Food & Beverage

6 over-the-top cocktail splurges

The $5,000 cocktail, and other pricey drinks

Commercial Eye | Image Bank | Getty Images

So much for government estimates that put the average American's annual "dining out" budget at around $3,000. These days, it's possible to blow that on just a few premium cocktails.

To be sure, super-expensive cocktails aren't unheard of. Case in point: At the Kentucky Derby, there's a $1,000 mint julep that comes in a gold-plated, hand-engraved cup and a gold-plated sipping straw, among other adornments. Drinks with four-figure price tags at other bars and restaurants typically come adorned with a diamond necklace or cuff links, vintage cocktail shaker or other inedible add-ons.

This newest crop of cocktails, however, eliminates the bling. Instead, they take a leaf from the growing craft cocktail movement, putting the emphasis (and price) squarely on high-end, limited edition spirits that imbibers would be less likely to otherwise sample. For example, this spring, XS Nightclub in Las Vegas introduced the $5,000 Five Star, which includes a taste of $22,000-per-bottle Rémy Martin Louis XIII Rare Cask 42.6.

The new splurges aren't one-offs like the current Guinness record-holder, the $12,970 "Winston"—which incorporated rare Croizet 1858 Cuvée Leonie cognac (which itself set records as the most expensive cognac sold at auction), and was sold at Melbourne's Club 23 in 2013.

Click ahead to see six cocktail splurges that are regular menu offerings for anyone with cash to spare.

—By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant
Posted 26 April 2014


Photo: Jeffrey Gerwin

$100, Mandarin Oriental, New York City

Tableside preparation begins with the presentation of flutes on a silver tray, followed by the opening and pouring of a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée champagne. Delamain Vesper XO cognac, Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire, yuzu juice and agave are shaken together and poured atop. "It's a little bit unconventional," said Nicole Burke, brand ambassador for Krug. "But we at Krug are often a little unconventional ourselves, and that's very much in the spirit of our founder." Imbibers also receive their choice of a sweet or savory amuse-bouche.

Home bar cost:

  • Krug Grande Cuvée, $105 per half-bottle
  • Delamain Vesper XO, $165 per bottle
  • Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire, $150 per bottle

'The Benjamin'

The Benjamin
Photo: Red O Restaurant

$100, Red O Restaurant, Los Angeles

"The Benjamin" has been tweaked a few times over the years, and is in the process of another revamp, said Dan Oliver, director of training. It contains not one but three high-end añejo tequilas; currently, Gran Patrón Burdeos, El Tesoro Paradiso and Partida Elegante. Those, along with Grand Marnier Cuvée Cent Cinquantenaire, fresh lime juice and organic agave syrup, are shaken and poured over a homemade lime sorbet. Finishing touches include a float of Louis XIII de Rémy Martin cognac, pomegranate seeds and a kosher salt rim mixed with edible gold flakes, before the cocktail is served up on a silver tray. (A previous incarnation of the drink, pictured, used blood orange "caviar" instead of pomegranate.)

Home bar cost:

  • Gran Patrón Burdeos, $470 per bottle
  • El Tesoro Paradiso, $120 per bottle
  • Partida Elegante, $350 per bottle
  • Grand Marnier Cuvée Cent Cinquantenaire, $220 per bottle
  • Louis XIII de Rémy Martin, $2,850 per bottle

'If I Had A Million Dollars'

If I Had A Million Dollars
Photo: The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland

$160, The Ritz-Carlton's Lobby Lounge on 6, Cleveland

The priciest in the lounge's lineup of drinks named after hit songs, "If I Had A Million Dollars" uses Hennessy Paradis cognac and Grand Marnier Cuvée Cent Cinquantenaire. The spirits are shaken with lemon juice, strained into a chilled martini glass and garnished with a lemon twist.

Home bar cost:

  • Hennessy Paradis, $1,000 per bottle
  • Grand Marnier Cuvée Cent Cinquantenaire, $220 per bottle


Photo: Lavo Italian Restaurant

$350, LAVO Italian Restaurant, Las Vegas

"This cocktail shows that a cocktail doesn't have to be complicated to be great," said a spokesman. The drink, which hails back to a 1930s recipe in the Savoy cocktail book, incorporates Nolet's Reserve—hailed as the world's most expensive gin—and Chartreuse Yellow V.E.P., as well as Scrappy's orange bitters and organic lemon peel.

Home bar cost:

  • Nolet's Reserve, $700 per bottle
  • Chartreuse Yellow V.E.P., $150 per bottle

'Hardy Perfection Sidecar'

Hardy Perfection Sidecar
Photo: Beverly Hills Hotel

$1,202, Beverly Hills Hotel's Bar Nineteen12, Beverly Hills

This pricey offering was first made last year at a guest's request, said a spokeswoman, and has remained on the menu ever since. The star of the drink is Hardy Perfection cognac, a rare limited-edition bottle usually snapped up by collectors. ("I'm actually quite shocked that they put it in a cocktail," said Marta Taskin, a vice president for A. Hardy USA.) The cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice are added to a mixing glass with ice, shaken and then strained into a chilled martini glass, half-rimmed with sugar and finished with a lemon spiral twist.

Home bar cost:

  • Hardy Perfection, $10,000 per bottle

'The Five Star'

Five Star
Photo: Danny Mahoney | XS Las Vegas

$5,000, Wynn Resorts XS Nightclub, Las Vegas

Concocted for the venue's five-year anniversary in February, "The Five Star" will only be available during 2014. It's made from several rare, limited-edition spirits consumers would be more likely to obtain today from a collector at elevated prices than spot on their local liquor store shelves. There's the Rémy Martin Louis XIII Rare Cask 42.6 (which has a five-figure price tag) and tough-to-find Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23 year, along with special editions Bénédictine D.O.M. "Black Monk" 500th Anniversary Edition and Martini & Rossi "Gran Lusso" 150th Anniversary vermouth, which a brand spokesman said are no longer on shelves. The spirits are mixed tableside, along with Peychaud's Bitters, Angostura Bitters and a garnish of flamed orange oils. The finished cocktail is presented on a special gold tray.

Home bar cost:

  • Rémy Martin Louis XIII Rare Cask 42.6, $22,000 per bottle
  • Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23 year, $250 per bottle
  • Bénédictine D.O.M. "Black Monk" 500th Anniversary Edition, $32 per bottle
  • Martini & Rossi "Gran Lusso" 150th Anniversary Vermouth, $30 per bottle