Champagne and dining all in white 

Whole lotta bubbly

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J. Chandler Thomas

click to enlarge J. CHANDLER THOMAS
  • J. Chandler Thomas

Kicking things off early in the week, on Tuesday I hit up the Veuve Clicquot Mail Tour at Republic. The event was the after-party for the Clicquot-sponsored Charleston Wine and Food festival party at the William Aiken House, one of a handful of pre-festival events that keeps the buzz (no pun intended) going for the festival up until its March start. Before entering, I witnessed a bunch of older ladies with both copious and cumbersome amounts of Clicquot swag try to figure out how Uber works. Presumably, they did and were able to fit all of that stuff in the car. Meanwhile, inside Republic, bartenders were pouring champagne for $20 a glass or $150 a bottle. Worth noting, Republic normally does not pour Veuve by the glass, so this was a special occasion. There were magnums of the stuff on every corner and I almost self-served, but managed to show a little restraint. Out back, guests were invited to play a Veuve Clicquot-themed game of corn hole, which I thought to be kind of hilarious given the luxury brand.

On Wednesday, I hit up the freshly remodeled Vendue Rooftop for City Paper’s SWIG Launch party. SWIG has been revamped and is your pocket-sized guide to all things related to booze in the city. The current issue features a contest of the area’s hottest bartender and most contestants were in attendance. The party included some featured drinks and my favorite was the dark and stormy with Captain Morgan Cannon Blast rum. Think of a usual Captain and Coke from college, but a bit spicier. DJ Rehab set the soundtrack and the dancing at happy hour started quite early.

click to enlarge J. CHANDLER THOMAS
  • J. Chandler Thomas

Thursday, I left the office early to embark on an experience that I will never forget. That experience was Diner en Blanc. Diner en Blanc was first created in Paris by a few friends who decided to assemble a picnic in a public space. Now the event across the pond boasts around 15,000 attendees each year with an incredibly long waiting list. After 27 years, the concept has gone international and is held in many cities across the globe. Guests dress in all white, bring their own white tables, chairs, linens, place settings, floral arrangements, and literally anything else that you want, so long as it is white. After a series of emails telling me that I could be asked to leave if I did not comply with the rules of the event, I was quite nervous when I saw that my plus one had purchased a black table and chairs. The tablecloth was actually a Christmas tree skirt, the table itself was half the size of standard regulation for the event, and the plates were paper. The instructions stated that they could not be disposable. Basically, we pretty much failed on all accounts.

Guests of Diner en Blanc met at the Joe before our group leaders lead us to the secret location, which happened to be Brittlebank Park. I was thinking that or Hampton, but rumors started quite early. The meeting spot had a cultish turnout and everyone had their hands full with their tables, chairs, provisions, etc… People passing by were clearly confused at the sight of all of us, and frankly, we were too. Once in the event, we were tasked with setting up the tables. The Joe Clark Quartet preformed throughout our meal and set the tone for a refined evening. Next to our janky table, two couples went all out with a huge centerpiece and candelabra, gold-toned flatware, and a sequined chevron runner… they basically shamed us. We were not thrown out by breaking all of the rules though. In fact, no one really said anything. A few guests in line did mention that they had been to a Diner en Blanc in Vancouver, so some knew what to expect. Most, however, did not. I think that it was because of this that I did not hear one single complaint. Not even from me. I was truly having a blast talking to everyone I could in the park, when, out of nowhere, everyone had sparklers and Joe Clark and his quartet was replaced with Natty Heavy. He played a little bit of everything for all ages that attended. I got to see a little bit of Saturday Night Fever and I even think I saw the Hustle. No Whipping or Nae Nae-ing here.

When the dancing started to wind down, we gathered our belongings and headed out of the park. If you plan on attending next year, it might be in your best interest to go ahead and splurge on a picnic table of your very own. Just make sure that is white, and not the size of a postage stamp.


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