Dita Von Teese, burlesque performer, designer and cocktail devotee, has taken on yet another role: brand ambassador for Cointreau, the orange liqueur. Known for performing worldwide in a giant Martini glass, she starred at the culinary and cocktail festival Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this year, and in collaboration with Cointreau, opened Parisian after-hours club Le Cointreau Privé, which features Cointreau-based drinks and Von Teese’s costumes on display. Von Teese recently shared a cocktail and some banter with Wine Enthusiast in her luxurious suite at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in New York.
Wine Enthusiast: We’re drinking a Cointreau Teese. It’s delicious. Can you tell us about the inspiration?
Dita Von Teese: I talked to the master mixologist at Cointreau about perfumes I like, foods I like and fragrances and colors. I love the scent of violets. In Paris, you can actually buy little bunches of violets on the street. It’s so exquisite. I wanted to do something with violet liqueur.
WE: Do you think there is a synergy between cocktail culture and burlesque?
DVT: Yes, I do. In both, you take your time to get where you’re going. It’s not about cracking open a beer and seeing how fast you can drink it; it’s about slowly enjoying the process, the ritual of mixing a cocktail, tasting it, smelling it, everything about it. It’s about elegance and knowing where to stop, and burlesque is like that too.
WE: You have been collecting vintage lingerie for 20 years. Do you also collect vintage barware?
DVT: I do. I pick up martini shakers. I love these figural ’30s shakers—I have a polar bear, and I really want one of those roosters. I am constantly hunting on eBay for vintage barware. My boyfriend found the polar bear for me, so that has sentimental value. There’s also a shaker I keep eyeballing on eBay that Lana Turner’s daughter is selling. I want to buy it so bad. Part of the fun of buying vintage anything is the thrill of the hunt.
WE: Any plans to start collecting vintage wine?
DVT: I have a French boyfriend…I usually leave the wine choices to him. I stick to the cocktail mixing. But I performed at Francis Ford Coppola’s birthday party and I really found that I liked his Rubicon, so that is the one that I always keep stocked. I like Silver Oak too.
WE: When you’re off stage, what’s in your glass?
DVT: It depends on the season. Right now I drink Perrier with Cointreau; it’s like delicious orange-flavored soda. And I always like to have taco parties; I live in Paris part-time, and I have Mexican theme nights. My Parisian friends love it. I did a shoot where I played Margarita Sames, the woman who mixed the first Margarita, and that was fun.
WE: What is the perfect location for a glamorous cocktail experience?
DVT: Whenever I am in Paris, I love to go to the Hemingway Bar because they make the most spectacular cocktails in the world, and the bartenders there are really fantastic. They always make me something new. I walk in and they say, “I came up with something while you were gone.” They are my favorite Parisian bartenders.
WE: Le Cointreau Privé is opening in Paris. What can we expect there?
DVT: We wanted an intimate private bar, but it was important to me that my fans can come and enjoy my favorite cocktails in a private atmosphere. The décor was chosen by me, with the help of designers. I just wanted an experience for my fans, exclusive but accessible—not a snooty private bar. It will be in Montmartre. I hope it’s a big success. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it is the first of many.
WE: Of all the cities in which you have launched the “Cointreau-politan,” which was your favorite?
DVT: Sydney! The party was incredible. They made this huge chandelier of hundreds of Cointreau bottles. I also got to do a few shows for my fans. That really meant a lot to me.