Despite what one may think, the spirits and interior design industries are interconnected; at least celebrity interior designer, television personality, and entrepreneur Adair Curtis, seems to think so. “The two worlds are so related in so many ways. You might have to think a little bit abstract to get there. But it’s the same adjectives you would use to describe a really beautiful piece of furniture,” Curtis says to me in a private room at a swanky Santa Monica hotel, which is the location selected for the Crown Royal Aged 30 Years soiree. “It’s about curation and finding special moments.”
Curtis is deeply familiar with curating moments filled with luxury, intention, and elegant thought-provoking design aesthetics – as he’s the lead interior designer at JSN STUDIO, a multidisciplinary design and styling firm based in Los Angeles. Curtis elevates intimate spaces for the hottest celebrities like Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, Taraji P. Henson, Dulé Hill, Jazmyn Simon, and more. You may have seen him on reality television shows like Netflix’s “Styling Hollywood” or, more recently, on “Instant Dream Home.”
Now, Curtis is expanding his talents to the spirits industry. On November 2nd, award-winning Canadian whisky brand Crown Royal unveiled its latest limited-time offering, Crown Royal Aged 30 Years. Crown Royal’s longest-aged blend, the 30-Year-Old, is a tour de force, aged to extraordinary distinction for under three decades. Each whisky in this blend was distilled in Coffey stills, the only one in North America. Then aged in used barrels at their historic LaSalle distillery, the liquid is defined by a unique combination of bold flavor and velvety mouthfeel. A product of passion and precision, this blend has been aged for unprecedented complexity (and bottled in minimal quantity).
The brand invited tastemakers, influencers, interior designers, Curtis’s husband, celebrity fashion stylist and co-founder of JSN STUDIO, Jason Bolden, and ESSENCE to an exclusive dinner with Crown Royal to celebrate this momentous occasion.
“Crown Royal Aged 30 is 30 years in the making, which is incredible. I like to be positioned and synonymous with things with lasting staying power and quality over quantity. So, to be asked to host and put this gathering together tonight is an honor. I’m really fortunate that I’ve been chosen, and they saw something in me and the community of friends I keep, to expose them to it,” he said.
Before we could experience the evening, Curtis described it as “refinement” and used his favorite slogan, “good vibes only,” to put positive energy in the atmosphere.
Crown Royal also gave Curtis creative ownership to help design the space and add decor for the dinner party. “This is a really special place. You have texture and scale, the lighting is beautiful, and the table we’ve been able to dress to invite our friends to partake is curated and intentional. And so I want everyone to experience it. Beyond the food, we’re going to enjoy this special whisky in a beautiful environment,” Curtis exclaimed.
He continued to describe his design process, “We were working with certain things that were there already. We bought a lovely table and chairs. The tablescape is beautiful terracotta plates, lush plants, and stunning candelabras.”
As far as the dinner party, each guest was greeted upon entry with specialized craft Crown Royal-based cocktails, cleverly named “Nikki’s Redemption,” “Don’t Worry About A Thing,” and my personal favorite, “Damn, I Miss Paris.” While everyone mingled and vibed out to the DJ playing select jams from Erkyah Badu’s “Didn’t Cha Know” to DeBarge’s classic “I Like It,” Curtis’s quiet but confident presence captivated the room. After 30 minutes of light conversation, it was time to experience a Crown Royal whisky tasting led by Stephen Wilson, Director of Whisky Engagement for the brand. We had the opportunity to try four whiskies: The Crown Royal Deluxe (the original spirit, filled with caramel and light fruit notes), the Reserve (which was created in the early 1990s), Aged 18 (which is the youngest whisky of the blend, with notes of creme brulee), and finally the marquee whisky of them all, Aged 30 (which was produced one month out of the year, touting notes of orchard fruit and vanilla flavors with a sweet and creamy finish).
With quality whisky on our tongues, we were all primed to enjoy the three-course meal, which was family style and featured delectable main courses like the crusted branzino, pomegranate peppercorn chicken breast, glazed lamb shoulders, and fattoush salad, with a delicious budino for dessert.
The tasting and dinner exuded luxury, just like Crown Royal and Curtis intended for it to do. For Curtis, curating luxurious experiences and valuing precious moments is his priority. “Crown Royal took 30 years to create this special and rare whisky, and so that in and of itself is luxury. I do believe deep down that time is a luxury. It’s the one thing that we cannot control. Time is fleeting, so we must do as much as possible to stay present and savor every second of our time. It goes back to slow living. Something that takes a while to cultivate and bring to fruition makes it special.”
If you’d like to learn how to design a magical evening for the holidays, like the one we just experienced, see Curtis’s top three tips for curating an elevated dinner soiree below.
Use and utilize every surface within the space you’re working within: Use more than just your table and the table on which you will serve food. Be mindful of your cocktail and console tables; make everything an intentional moment of beauty.
Excite your guests: Offer them something exquisite, such as Crown Royal Aged 30, when they walk into the space.
Be personable: Consider who your guests are and what motivates them, and try to create a personalized and personal takeaway for each person attending. It goes a long way beyond just an impersonal gift bag. Think about each person and what you know will resonate with them. That way, you can create a lasting memory beyond just the event they just attended.