Kylie Minogue’s first experiences with alcohol weren’t particularly glamorous — canned drinks with teenage friends, boxed wine at family barbecues. But Ms Minogue, 54, the only female artist to top the music charts for five consecutive decades, has since refined her relationship with alcohol.
One Wednesday morning, she stood behind the venerable Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel, shaker in hand. She shook it and shook it and shook it, mixing the drink to her own internal rhythm.
“Hey! Hey! Hey! How am I doing?” she asked Bemelmans bartender Abdul Rashid, resplendent in a poppy red jacket.
“Oh fantastic,” Mr. Rashid said. “I’m jealous.”
A few nights earlier, Mrs. Minogue had come to this same bar to celebrate her collection of wines – two still rosés, one sparkling – by singing a selection of hits on the grand piano. She had returned this morning to demonstrate her mixology chops.
But these chops have been the subject of debate. A publicist had described Ms Minogue as an experienced bartender with a specialty drink. However, the proposed cocktail, the Pink Pearl, had been newly created by Mr. Rashid. And Ms Minogue questioned her ability to mix it up.
“I’m going to make such a pig’s ear out of it,” she said happily as she walked behind the granite and leather bar.
She had dressed for the occasion in a mauve trouser suit trimmed with marabou – “Feathers, I hadn’t thought of that,” she said – and white stiletto heels. She hadn’t thought about the shoes either. After a brief scuffle with the bar floor mats, she replaced them with a pair of black platforms, singing a snippet of “You Raise Me Up” as she put them on.
“We need jazz music,” she said. “A bit of atmosphere.” Jazz, one of the very many genres Ms. Minogue has dabbled in, was summoned.
Mr. Rashid had already assembled the ingredients and equipment: gin, apricot brandy, lime, simple syrup, bitters, a bottle of Mrs. Minogue’s prosecco rosé, various shakers and coupes. (He had also prepared an array of snacks — salted nuts, cheese straws, potato chips — which she politely ignored.)
Mrs. Minogue had transmitted some stipulations concerning the cocktail. “It must be pink,” she had told him. “Must be fun. It must be a little cheeky. She had borrowed the name, Pink Pearl, from another drink, invented in her honor at the Bar in Paris. Maybe it hadn’t been filed.
Beneath his benevolent, eyelashed gaze, Mr. Rashid demonstrated the drink, complementing it with a float of Ms. Minogue’s prosecco rosé, which, according to its website, contains notes of “fresh strawberries, raspberries and flowers”. The garnish was a sprig of fresh mint.
“I suggest you do it,” Mr. Rashid told him, chivalrously. “The finishing touch you do.”
“I didn’t even do that very well,” Ms Minogue said, after adding the weed.
Ms. Minogue, who the BBC once called “pop’s most underrated icon” and occasional contributor Rufus Wainwright called “the gay shorthand for joy”, first introduced her wines in Britain in 2020, where they sold out quickly. She’s not a winemaker herself, but she told her partners at Benchmark Wine Group that the wines should be “elegant, refreshing, not boring, not overly difficult,” she said. In other words, his wines sounded a lot like his music.
After beginning her acting career on the Australian soap opera ‘Neighbours’, she turned to pop music when she was still in her twenties. An early review called her a “singing parakeet”, but Ms Minogue, who is recording a 16th studio album, has rarely let bad press deter her. She worked on her music. She got better.
“I just learned on the job,” she said. Then she examined the ingredients laid out in front of her on the bar. “It’s kind of like that,” she said, turning to the task at hand. “I learn on the job.”
So, with occasional help from Mr. Rashid, Mrs. Minogue added a pinch of simple syrup (well, more than a pinch: “Oops!” she said), half an ounce of water -de-vie of apricot and three quarters of an ounce of lime. juice. He showed her how to turn the jigger upside down to add the gin. She was heavy-handed with the bitters, which give the drink its rosy tones.
“That one has a little more love,” she said, as a few more drops of bitters fell. “I need to work on my cocktail skills, that’s all.”
At Mr. Rashid’s urging, she set up a metal shaker on top of the glass and she shook it vervely. “Wow! she cried, her whole body swaying in a way reminiscent of locomotion.
With some light trial and error, she then strained the mixture into a glass filled with ice, adding the prosecco, a sprig of mint, and then another source of mint as the first slid under the surface.
“And There you go !” she says. She didn’t dare offer the drink to an assistant. “I’ll have to taste it myself,” she said of the erratically mixed drink. “I will say it’s amazing.”
So even though it was only 11 a.m., Mrs. Minogue took the straw between her perfect purple lips and drank. Was it amazing?
“Very refreshing, very pleasant,” she said with a conspiratorial smile. “Dangerously so.”