Before last night, I couldn’t have told you what Hennessey tasted like, what you mix it with, who drinks it, and what the brand is all about. The cognac is a smooth, versatile, slightly sweet and woody alcohol that you could pair simply with orange juice or the more complex ginger beer. It’s pretty good and, to me, is something I only imagined Snoop Dogg–err–Lion drank while performing songs like “Sexual Seduction” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” I saw the drink as a cultural relic that represented late nineties, early two thousands urban club culture, where Hennessy, Courvoisier, and Cristal are the blood that pump through the veins of a party.
Well, Hennessy isn’t that anymore. The brand is a little more complex and–like the liquor–it’s quite versatile and slick. An example of that? They recently released a very limited edition version of the drink that is from street artist Futura. The pairing sounds a little bold and different for the brand but it is a perfect fit, as we learned at last night’s celebration of the bottle’s being released.
We–along with all around rad gal and LAIY contributor Cori–attended the Milk Studios event, a venue that certainly looked its best for the occasion. From the entrance to the small hallways to the bars to the performance stage, everything carried over the visual theme of “HennyXFutura,” the quick hashtag reference of the collaboration. This look was black as a baseaccented with bright reds, blues, and yellows, extracting and multiplying the visual themes from Futura’s design.
Multiplication was a theme too a this design was expounded upon in countless ways. If you looked in one direction, there was a bar with a backdrop of blank bottles who had spinning, sputtering imagery projected atop of it. In another direction, there was a giant ice bar with frozen squiggles, bottles, and Futura’s signature emblazoned upon it: the piece of temporary furniture demanded that you touch it and, when you spilled a little Henny, stickying your hand, the melting bar made it very easy to wash your hands.
There were other crazy, statement party decorations that ranged from an encased bottle that was the center of a holographic performance to a piece of continually changing artwork that Futura was painting and repainting himself. The most interesting thing to us was the crowd, which was a weird (in a good way) mix of stylish rapper types, hipster skateboard types, sexy fashionista women, art goers, and music lovers (who were there to see Diplo DJ and Santigold perform, AKA Los Angeles’ resident art opening performers). What was most surprising is that it wasn’t at all pretentious and there were very little “celebrities,” if even a celebrity at all. We did bump into Santigold on her way to be interviewed by former MTV VJ Quddus and did see actress Claudia Jordan enter (who I am only aware of because I worked on a reality show where she and three other African American celebrity types shared how hard Black Hollywood is. The show was never picked up.). The atmosphere of the event–and collaboration–represented this chameleonic face of Hennessy in that they were able to win over art enthusiasts, hip hop fans, and hipsters by positioning their new collaboration as Art In The Streets: The Drink.
We didn’t stick around to see the performances because, as is our nature, we turned into pumpkins just as all the excitement began. What we did get to experience–the decoration, slice of Angelenos, and the booze–was excellent and so absurdly well executed. If I told myself a year ago that I would enjoy Hennessy at a Hennessy party that celebrates art, I would have simultaneously laughed and punched myself in the face. It’s so oxy moronic and unexpected.
I’m not sure if I’ll actually buy Hennessy now. However, I will consider it every time I see it in a store, me throwing a cool nod as it stares back, hoping to share an invisible fist bump. The Hennessy X Futura collaboration bottle is now available and for purchase at most liquor stores (we saw a crazy setup qt Mel & Rose this past weekend so, if anything, they are there).
Hennessy is no longer just for rappers. Now we know.