Why is the new $5,000 L' Imperial cocktail so expensive?
First, it's made from expensive spirits, including 1 ounce of Nolet's Reserve Gin, which costs $100 a serving; .75 ounces of Cherry Oak Aged Maraschino Liqueur at $50 a serving; and 1 ounce of rare Green Chartreuse liqueur, which is $1,150 a serving.
Then there are the Beluga cocktail caviar pearls, which cost $75. The cocktail also has an ounce of lime juice and comes with an Amarena cherry painted with gold leaf and saffron (created by Baccarat culinary director and two-Michelin starred chef Gabriel Kreuther) as a garnish, worth $25.
But the most expensive part of the cocktail is the glass it's served in, a crystal Baccarat Tsar glass worth $3,600, which you get to keep.
The star ingredient, rare Green Chartreuse, is reportedly the only liqueur in the world that has a natural green color. According to its maker, "only two Chartreuse monks know the identity of the 130 plants, how to blend them and how to distill them into this world famous liqueur. They are also the only ones who know which plants they have to macerate to produce the natural green and yellow colours. And they alone supervise the slow ageing in oak casks."
The Green Chartreuse used in the L' Imperial cocktails dates between 1921 and 1926. The bottle, almost a century old, is extremely rare, according to Antoine Hodge, bar director at Baccarat, who created the cocktail. "We tried to get a count of how many are in existence," he tells CNBC Make It, "but we couldn't find any others."
On a recent trip to Paris, France, Matthieu Yamoun, Baccarat's wine director, came across the Green Chartreuse, a bottle of Benedictine from 1920 and another bottle of chartreuse dated 1931 to 1936. All three were being sold in a bundle by a private vendor, according to Hodge.
"The green chartreuse has a lot of spice and soul," says Hodge. "Chartreuse is the only spirit that evolves in the bottle, like a red wine, which makes it expensive and exclusive."
The cocktail is created to celebrate the Last Word, a classic cocktail created in the 1920s, according to Hodge. Last Word typically includes Green Chartreuse, gin, Maraschino liqueur and lime juice.
The overall flavor of L' Imperial "is a bright, but rich, complex version of the original with many more layers of botanicals, aromatics and a hint of baking spice," says Hodge. "The cocktail is sweet and citrus, with a subtle hint of vanilla and cinnamon finish."
Including the glass, L' Imperial may be the most expensive cocktail in America. Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas offers a $1,500 Sazerac, which includes a rare Hardy Thoroughbred Cognac, VEP Green Chartreuse, Demerara sugar, Peychaud's Bitters, La Clandestine Absinthe Rinse and lemon oil, according to the resort. The cocktail is available in the High Limit Lounge, according to the representative, and there is no souvenir.
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