Over the past five years, Martell Malaysia has thrown luxurious Chinese banquets, initially mainly part of its Lunar New Year celebrations, but which have evolved into year-long festivities that eventually became the foundation of Martell’s Legacy Dinner Series.
Attending these events means an opportunity to indulge in three guiding pillars that the cognac house has celebrated since Jean Martell founded it in 1715: gastronomy, taste and craftsmanship. The past two harrowing years of the pandemic made it difficult to keep this event alive, but the brand kept fans and friends engaged with intimate as well as virtual dinners. The latter even included drone deliveries.
Focusing on camaraderie, audacity and tradition, the great cognac house held the Martell Legacy Dinner Series Grand Finale at the Genting International Convention Centre for a whopping 750 guests. The lavish affair took everyone through the story of Maison Martell, with decorative booths sporting displays of its famed bottles and serving up a variety of cocktails or, as we prefer it, a glass of cognac neat.
Following through with the theme of celebrating legacies, both Royal Salute, a brand born to commemorate the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne, and Chivas Regal — one of the world’s most successful whisky labels brought to life by two ambitious brothers, a story akin to Jean Martell’s — supported this prestigious event and had booths toasting their own rich history and heritage.
Some of the highlights before dinner included a slow motion video booth, cupcake canapes displayed in mini hot air balloon baskets, and a wall of cocktails, where little cubby holes held various tipples that were quickly replenished by mysterious hands behind the wall. The emcees then ushered guests into the expansive dining hall, bedecked with all manner of splendour in Martell’s signature shade of blue.
With showcase boxes of some of the most indulgent spirits and even a Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupé with a giant bow in one corner — all for the lucky draw with which to reward Martell’s loyal fans, with the latter being the grand prize — the space felt luxurious to the extreme. Every table was decorated with a glitzy blue tablecloth adorned with hot air balloon flower arrangements that perhaps symbolise the dizzying heights of grandeur that Martell will continue to reach for in the future.
“The Martell brand has become synonymous with the opulence, vibrancy and audacity of grand-scale Chinese dinners and banquets like these. We are constantly finding new ways to excite our guests with events that are out of the ordinary, and ensuring that with each year, we challenge ourselves to create bigger and better experiences our guests will remember for years. It is, after all, in the brand’s spirit to be audacious,” said Benny Tsang, managing director of Pernod Ricard Malaysia.
Guests were treated to a video of the “Soar Beyond the Expected” campaign — directed by Hong Kong-based artist, photographer and filmmaker Wing Shya — which celebrates the redesign of the Martell Cordon Bleu, featuring new spokesperson and renowned Chinese actor Tony Leung as well as French actor Vincent Cassel. Bringing these two powerhouses together for this East meets West campaign was the brand’s way of showcasing the Cordon Bleu’s audacious spirit as symbolic of freedom.
Dinner began with a light and crispy soft shell crab egg roll containing a Thai style deep-fried mango salad, and quickly moved to a hearty double-boiled chicken soup with Brazil matsutake mushroom and dried scallop. A more contemporary dish on the menu was the wok-fried lamb rack with a coffee sauce, which had a smoky and sweet flavour balance. The steamed grouper fillet with bean curd stick and black fungus brought us back to a more traditional Chinese banquet meal, and so did the sumptuous braised 10 head abalone with sea cucumber. The fried organic red brown rice with dried scallop and seafood was a satisfying starch, and the double-boiled sweet peach resin with pear and king tea rounded off the meal on a sweet note.
On every dining table were three bottles for guests to indulge in: the Royal Salute 21 Year Old Malts Blend, Chivas Regal Gold Signature 18 Year Old, and of course, the Martell Cordon Bleu. In between courses, and glasses of cognac or whisky, the lucky draw winners were called out. Guests were also treated to music in English, Malay and Chinese from The Shang Sisters, a female jazz vocal trio comprising Janet Lee, Winnie Ho and Mian Tan.
While this grand finale marked the completion of Martell’s Legacy Dinner Series, the brand ambassadors and Tsang reminded us it was only the beginning of new adventures through the “Martell World of Cognac”. Given its rich history, heritage and savoir-faire, we shall wait with bated breath for what the brand will do next.
This article first appeared on July 25, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.