Charity has never been more glamorous than at the Elton John Aids Foundation-Grey Goose ‘Character and Cocktails’ event on Wednesday in London’s Covent Garden. If the cause was noble, the atmosphere was notable for the chic attendees and the flow of unique alcoholic concoctions.
David Furnish, partner of musical titan Sir Elton John, was host of the event, which centered around the auction of five cocktail bars designed by him, Elizabeth Hurley & ASWer Patrick Cox, Dinos Chapman, Burberry head Christopher Bailey and Sam Taylor-Wood. Each came with its own new cocktail, created by the world’s top mixologists; these were the libations poured at the altar of charity.
Furnish’s bar was an aquatic fantasia-meets-Las Vegas, featuring a mermaid under the counter and pole dancers (who happily had legs, not scales). Mermaids have always been an obsession, he says, ever since he spent hours watching reruns of Stingray as a child, although he confesses to being an enthusiastic pole dancer himself, too.
Chapman’s was a souped-up ice cream van, with white furry interiors, although its Cream-and-Lemon cocktail disappointed those expecting a scoop of vanilla in a cone. Elizabeth Hurley and Patrick Cox produced a diamond of a bar, with its glassy panels refracting a rainbow of light across the room; to my taste buds, its Crystal Eyes cocktail was the best of the night.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation has so far raised US $150m (approximately €101.5m) and David Furnish has visited some of its projects around the world, from America to India. “It breaks my heart because [AIDS] is preventable and the message gets distorted by political agendas,” he says, criticising the war in Iraq for diverting a trillion dollars from a real battle.
The location – an elegant bare-brick suite of rooms around a double-height atrium – was packed with ladies in their finest, blackest, shortest cocktail gowns and gentlemen eschewing the business-day tie for open-necked suavity. And everywhere you turned was a bar dispensing the Grey Goose-based cocktails.
The hot guest-list included David Walliams (of Little Britain fame), eternal goth Kelly Osborne and London socialites Olympia Scarry, Camilla Al Fayed and Jodie Harsh. Everywhere Elizabeth Hurley moved, cameras flashed, especially as the bars went up for sale and the designers crowded around the auctioneer, borrowed from Sotheby’s. The total raised from the sale of the bars was nearly £150,000 (approximately €209,000), proving that charity and cocktails are formidable partners.