Sip Edible Perfume at This French Bar Worth Traveling For
A rooftop garden serving cocktails flavored by the bees and flowers of Provence.
The French Riviera is one of those places where the hands of the clock just seem to slow. All your stubborn worries fade away until all you feel is a vibe (as the kids are wont to say). There’s a calmness for all who stroll the Mediterranean surf—sublime and cerulean—in Cannes. The setting is such that you wish you could just drink it all in. At the Bar du Fouquet, inside the lobby of Le Majestic Hotel, Emanuele Balestra is doing his best to accommodate such inclinations.
The bar director for the 5-star seaside resort has assembled a cocktail which buzzes with provenance. To make it work, he enlisted the help of a secret weapon—several thousand of them, to be exact. “The Bomb Honey is my celebration of the honey we cultivate on the rooftop at Le Majestic,” he explains. “It was created to amplify the flavor profile of our own brand of honey [sold exclusively at the hotel], which holds its own distinctive flavor afforded by the unique climate of Cannes and the specific microclimate on the rooftop of the hotel, where our bees live.”
But honey is only one way in which these busy bees are helping craft the signature cocktail. There’s also a refreshing herbal blast in each sip, for which the insects play a vital role. “The herbs and plants used in the drink are from the hotel’s gardens,” adds Balestra. “They are pollinated by bees kept in four hives on our rooftop. The bees are multifloral and they forage specifically on a type of flower commonly found in the old town of Cannes called ‘Brouillard Blanche.’ This means the honey has a very specific taste with notes of caramel.”
At the cocktail’s alcoholic base is a fruity, apple-forward aperitif from Normandy called 30 & 40 Double Jus. “It tastes like a mix between cider and calvados,” according to Balestra. It’s the only ingredient in the Bomb Honey which isn’t sourced on-site. And its lighter proof (23% alcohol) ensures that the resulting drink is suitable for repeated, late-afternoon sipping.
Your sunset will be that much sweeter, to be sure. But even though the Bomb Honey is intended to evoke a literal explosion of nectar—as evidenced by its bomb-shaped serving vessel—the drink is tempered in its saccharine proclivities. “There’s a vegetal side that comes from Thai Basil as well as the softness that the bergamot honey provides,” the bar man contends. “It is entirely reminiscent of the variety of herbs and plants surrounding our hives.”
And those subtle savory notes mean that it could act as more than mere aperitif. It actually pairs well with a classic preparation of Duck Magret—rich, roasted, and ever-so-fruity in its execution. If you’re a fan of sip-able science, however, you’ll probably want to pair the drink instead with extended conversation at the bar with Balestra. It doesn’t take too long here to unmask the man’s true identity as a mad scientist of mixology. He might even take you on a tour of his on-site ‘cocktail lab.’
“I have a unique approach to bartending at Le Majestic,” he says. It’s a modest understatement from a guy who regularly messes around with an ultrasound machine and a roto-vap in his downtime. “I experiment with flavor and aroma using scientific methods and state-of-the-art technology to break down the molecular structure of ingredients and assemble new flavor profiles.”
It assumes the shape of homemade tinctures, bitters, jellies—even edible perfumes. “My work is informed by my years studying aroma at Robertet, the world leader in sustainable natural raw materials,” he explains.
That expertise is physically represented on a rooftop garden which boasts global influence: geranium from the Congo, citruses and herbs from Italy, basil from Thailand. All of it is necessary for the sort of cocktail you can’t find anywhere else on earth. He assures us, “For me, the non-alcoholic ingredients are just as important as the alcoholic ingredients.”
The same goes for the chalice in which the drink is served. For an upcoming menu, Balestra has partnered with a glassworker in the neighboring village of Biot to create custom stemware that, as he says, is “designed to capture and enhance the aromas, scents and ingredients of the drink like never before.”
The Bar Du Fouquet is a particularly appropriate setting for such showstoppers. Its elegantly appointed interior houses no small share of celebrities during Cannes’ eponymous film festival, held each May directly across the street. Stately rooms overlooking the Riviera on the floors above start at $300 per night. We suggest ordering an extra Bomb Honey to your room to help drink in the view. A lot of hard work went into its creation. Luckily, all that’s required of you is to sit back and enjoy it. Challenge accepted.