While most bars charge between $10 and $20 per cocktail these days, others have special menus, where it’s not unusual to find a drink for $40 or $50. But how about $100 or $300? Would you order a $1,000 glass of mixed booze?
These nine cocktails, all $100 or more, aren’t served with a diamond garnish or in a commemorative crystal glass or with any other bell and whistle. They’re priced to reflect the rare and sometimes vintage spirits contained therein. In other words, they’re truly one-of-a-kind.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving big-ticket drinks? Try making the classic, and much more affordable, Bond favorite, the Vesper, at home.
Think of Bible Club PDX as a Prohibition museum that serves great drinks. Every aspect of it, from the floor to the ceiling to the barware, not to mention every piece of furniture, is authentically vintage. The Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend fits in well here, as the unique bourbon was reverse-engineered from a pre-Prohibition bottle by a team of expert whiskey makers. Bible Club serves a three-ounce pour (instead of the standard two) in a $100 Old Fashioned called the Robber Baron, made with Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Boker’s bitters and BC cocktail syrup.
Before whiskey became the American spirit of choice, most bartenders used brandy in their Sazeracs and Mint Juleps. The Julep at The JW Marriott in Chicago harkens to that day, with Rémy Martin Louis XIII (a cognac priced at more than $3,000 a bottle), demerara syrup, crushed ice, a bouquet of mint and a garnish of edible gold flakes, all for $418. It’s simple, elegant and a great way to enjoy one of the world’s finest brandies.
One of the country’s best whiskey bars features a separate cocktail menu of classic drinks using only vintage spirits: a Negroni, say, made with gin and Campari from the ’70s; or a Red Hook made with Rittenhouse rye from the ’50s. The $650 Sazerac lets you choose between a 1935 cognac or a 1945 Monticello rye whiskey and includes a 1940s Pernod absinthe rinse. Take our advice: Drink it slowly!
New York City’s The Office is brand new, but the bottles in its Dusty Bottle collection are anything but. Look for its list of classic cocktails with vintage spirits dating back to the turn of the century. One younger, but no less striking, drink is the Boulevardier for $110, which uses Wild Turkey 101 eight-year-old bourbon, Campari and Punt e Mes vermouth, all from the 1980s. The Campari still has carmine, a natural coloring agent made from beetles. If you really want to splurge, there’s also a $600 Wet Martini from the 1900s.
If $100 and $200 cocktails make you feel like a philistine, then your only option is the Cinque Stelle at Montage resort at Laguna Beach. This $1,000 drink uses The Balvenie 40-year-old single-malt scotch, a scotch whisky that’s looked after by the same hands for all 40 of its years in the barrel. Added to it is Disaronno Riserva amaretto liqueur, with the drink served over hand-chipped ice in a crystal glass. Still feeling sticker-shocked? Don’t despair, you’re really just paying $500 to the resort—the other half goes to a local charity of your choice.
James Bond would flip for this take on his iconic creation: At Restaurant R’evolution, the Vesper, from the 1953 novel Casino Royale (and the 2006 film) is made with NOLET’S Reserve limited-release Dutch gin, Ketel One vodka and Réserve Lillet Blanc apéritif for $100. Despite how Bond prefers it, this one is stirred, not shaken, to maintain clarity and smoothness. Even still, you’ll feel as suave as 007 himself when drinking this.
Bartender Aaron Howard found a bottle of vermouth from 1911, labeled with Portland, Ore.’s first distribution company ever. The pre-Prohibition bottle was well-preserved, so he made a Manhattan with it, along with Michter’s 10-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon, from one of the country’s oldest distilleries, and his own house-made bitters for a pre-Prohibition-style cocktail. That single bottle won’t last forever, and neither will the drink. Luckily, he has a few other rare and vintage spirits to continue on with.
Another Louis XIII–based drink, the $200 Godfrey Cocktail at the eponymous I|O Godfrey adds a touch of crème de mûre liqueur and some fresh blackberries to the brandy, all poured over a hand-carved ice cube. The result is an indulgent cocktail, perfect for sipping on the rooftop lounge. Guests who order one also receive the opportunity to sign the exclusive Louis XIII Journal, just to be extra fancy.
Though maligned over the years, the Daiquiri has recently seen a strong resurgence in the bar world. And so too has Detroit been making a comeback, economically and in the country’s eyes. Those themes come together at Bad Luck Bar in the Admiral, a Daiquiri made with rum that was rationed to the British Royal Navy in 1952. There’s just one ounce in the drink, along with some lime juice and Okinawa black sugar syrup, and it’s strongly suggested you pair it with another ounce of the rum, neat. Together, it comes to $240, and it will probably ruin you for any other Daiquiri out there.