World's most decadent cocktails

  1. A doctor from Spain recently spent time visiting friends in Belfast. For their hospitality, he treated them to one drink at the Bar at the posh Merchant Hotel.
    Cheap? Not exactly. It was a $1,400 Mai Tai, the most expensive cocktail in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

    A Mai Tai, the token tipple of tiki bars--for the price of a trip to Bora Bora?
    "It's all about the rum," says Sean Muldoon, the "potation" manager at the opulent hotel bar in northern Ireland. "The presentation may seem like nothing," says Muldoon, referring to the bottle's plain Jane, hand-written label. "But I believe what we have here is something very, very special... This is history in a bottle."
    Indeed. The J. Wray Nephew 17-year-old rum from Kingston, Jamaica, is the very same golden, pungent, full-bodied rum that inspired "Trader" Vic Bergeron to create the original Mai Tai at his Oakland bar in 1944. It's unclear if this bottle of 17-year is an actual remnant from the sugar estate or a ridiculously limited replica made some time later. Either way, there are only six bottles of the stuff floating around, and the Merchant's bottle, which sleeps in the hotel safe at night, is the only one that's available to the public.
    Crafty Cocktailing
    There have always been people with money to burn, but rarely have there been so many exorbitantly priced cocktails at their disposal.

    Modern day "mixologists" like Muldoon are constantly seeking ways to elevate the art of cocktail making by conjuring their own cordials, syrups and tinctures. They are driven by a public that has become increasingly savvy, and discriminating about what passes their lips, and distillers who keep giving them better and better spirits to work with.
    Antonio Dandrea, bar manager at the Donovan Bar at Rocco Forte's Brown's Hotel in London, says this puts a lot of pressure on mixologists to constantly push the cocktail envelope.
    "People are always looking for something different," he says, "something they can't find anywhere else."
    Hence his lavish $100 truffle martini, which begins with a nubby black truffle from Alba enjoying a 48-hour soak in super premium vodka.
    For $20 more, he'll mix in some chocolate liqueur, float some double cream across the top and add two slices of fresh truffle.
    Top Of The Tops
    Not one for sweet drinks? We scoured bars, casinos, restaurants and lounges around the world to find other decadent libations and discovered they fall into distinct categories.

    Some, like the famous Ritz sidecar, at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, also deliver gravitas in a glass. This former Guinness record holder features a coveted 1865 Ritz Reserve cognac from Napoleonic times.
    Other lavish cocktails contain pricey, top-notch--though not necessarily historic--ingredients. The margarita at Isla Restaurant at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas is made with smooth Herradura Seleccion Suprema tequila, Grand Marnier 100-Year Anniversary, Cointreau and fresh citrus syrup. An added bonus? It's prepared tableside at the restaurant by Isla's very own "tequila goddess."
    Sometimes, it's the garnish--not the pour--that sends the price soaring, as in rubies parading as maraschino cherries or a solid-gold swizzle stick. The most famous in that category is the Algonquin Hotel's $10,000 " martini-on-the-rock,"--the "rock" being a 1.52-carat diamond from the hotel jeweller.
    Serious spirits aficionados, however, dismiss these as choking hazards dreamed up by marketing types.
    "I may as well serve a cocktail on top of a mink coat and call it my $20,000 sidecar," says Duncan Halden, bar manager at Gordon Ramsey at the London in New York.

    Though it's not on the menu, he serves a $550 sidecar to connoisseurs upon request that, he says, "out-luxes" the famous version at the Paris Ritz. It features Hennesey Ellipse super premium cognac--poured from a decanter which is specially designed by Tomas Bastide, a designer at Baccarat--and Grand Marnier 150.

    Out-There Offerings
    A small but growing category of drinks aren't so much outrageously priced as they are simply outrageous.

    Piggybacking on the new "molecular" trend in gastronomy, some mixologists, including those at Below-Zero Nitro Bar at Barton G. The Restaurant in Miami are playing "mad scientists" behind the bar. They've been infusing cocktails with liquid nitrogen, which not only freezes the alcohol but also causes it to intensify as it melts.
    The classic nitro-tini features Ciroc Snap Frost vodka, a frozen vermouth swizzle stick and olive, and frostbitten blue cheese pearls. The newer sin-sation features a rose bud stem encased in frozen Absolut Vanilla, which is doused with rose petal nectar (undiluted juice from pressed petals) and premium champagne.
    "The alcohol gets as cold as the surface of planet Pluto," says restaurateur and event planner Barton G. Weiss, and, of course, there is a fog factor that adds to the effect. Weiss says he's just responding to the customer's constant desire "to be wowed."
    Leave it to Weiss to put "wow" on ice. Just last week he threw an 80th birthday party in the middle of the Orange Bowl Stadium complete with a marching band and a parade float studded with sweets.
    "It's an exciting time to be in the business because there really are no boundaries," he says. Whenever one of the nitro-tinis is prepared, cell phones come out of purses and breast pockets. "More than just a drink," he says, "these are a real conversation piece."
    And, topping out at $32 they're a veritable bargain.
     
  2. Modern day “mixologists” are constantly seeking ways to elevate the art of cocktail making by conjuring their own cordials, syrups and tinctures. They are driven by a public that has become increasingly savvy, and discriminating about what passes their lips, and distillers who keep giving them better and better spirits to work with.



    Mai Tai
    The Merchant Hotel
    Belfast
    $1,400
    In beverage manager Sean Muldoon's possession? A bottle of Wray & Nephew 17-year-old rum that was a key ingredient for “Trader Vic” Bergeron’s original Mai Tai. Six bottles are in circulation but only this one is available for public consumption. Hurry up--there’s enough rum in the bottle to prepare 18 cocktails and three have been served to date.



    Sword Martinis
    Jambu’s Bar in the Raffles Resort
    Canouan Island, Grenadines
    $300
    You could buy a souvenir T-shirt. Or you could bring home a 14-karat gold handmade sword the size of a swizzle stick. The resort offers four different “theme” martinis, each armed with its corresponding sword, from samurai to Excalibur. Real collectors’ items, or as one customer put it: “very expensive toothpicks.”



    Bentley Sidecar
    The London NYC
    New York
    $550
    This drink isn’t on the menu at this swank midtown bar, but it’s available upon request. Beverage manager Duncan Halden calls his “a luxe English twist” on the classic drink from the Paris Ritz. It features Hennessy Ellipse super premium cognac--poured from a decanter, which is specially designed by Tomas Bastide, a designer at Baccarat--and Grand Marnier 150.



    24 K Margarita
    The Fairmont
    Scottsdale Princess
    $50
    What goes down better with gold dust, salsa or guacamole? For this premium margarita ($200 a pitcher) Sean McKusick, restaurant manager, blends some of the finest tequilas--Gran Patron Platinum and Patron Silver, with the best rare-aged champagne cognac--Grand Marnier Cent Cinquantenaire (aged 50 years)--and freshly squeezed lime juice. The drink is garnished with pure gold dust and gold leaves.



    Sin-sation
    Below-Zero Nitro Bar
    Barton G. The Restaurant, Miami
    $32
    Who needs diamonds and truffles when you can freeze alcohol? In a daring feat of molecular mixology, the bar staff here infuses alcohols with liquid nitrogen so that they freeze solid and become more potent as they thaw. The bar offers several variations on the Nitro-Tini but the Champagne-laced Sin-sation, with its pricey rose nectar and bud stem encased in frozen Absolute Vanilla, is the fave du jour.
     
  3. High Roller Martini
    The Capital Grille, Las Vegas
    $1,000
    This pinstripe restaurant chain boasts a $1000 martini for each of its 27 locales, each paired with a different piece of Lagos jewelry. The Gotham Martini comes with a strand of pearls; The High Roller, named for the Vegas Strip, includes a diamond pave ring. For each cocktail sold, about $500 goes to Share our Strength, a charity that battles hunger around the globe.



    "Martini-on-the-Rock"
    The Blue Bar
    Algonquin Hotel, New York
    $10,000
    Vodka or gin? Olive or twist? Emerald-cut or Marquise? This is one martini you must order 72 hours in advance so that you may pre-select your diamond and setting. Only two have been ordered since the drink’s launch in 2004. One for a segment on NPR and the other for a marriage proposal (the answer was a resounding “yes” ).



    The Elixir Margarita
    Isla Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar
    Treasure Island, Las Vegas
    $99
    Isla’s very own Tequila Goddess will prepare this luxe margarita for you tableside, using nothing but the finest margarita fixins': Herradura Selección Suprema, Grand Marnier 100-Year-Anniversary, Cointreau and fresh citrus juices. Garnished with citrus wheels. Better order these by the pitcher.



    Chocolate Truffle Martini
    Donovan Bar
    Brown’s Hotel in London
    $120
    Award-winning mixologist Antonio Dandrea says this cocktail is for serious truffle lovers only. He infuses premium vodka with a black Alba truffle. After filtering the ice-cold vodka he either uses it to make a heady straight truffle martini ($100) or, for something twice as decadent, he combines it with chocolate liqueur, floats some double cream across the top and garnishes it with two paper-thin truffle slices.



    The Ritz Sidecar
    Bar Hemingway
    Hotel Ritz, Paris
    $515
    This is the actual birthplace of the sidecar, a drink that was created to take the chill off for a regular customer who arrived by motorcycle with sidecar. Former keeper of the Guinness World Record for the most expensive cocktail, it starts with extremely rare 1865 Ritz Reserve cognac, made from grapes that were on the vine before the devastating phylloxera infestation of the 1860s. Only a few bottles remain.



    The Ritz Sidecar
    Bar Hemingway
    Hotel Ritz, Paris
    $515
    This is the actual birthplace of the sidecar, a drink that was created to take the chill off for a regular customer who arrived by motorcycle with sidecar. Former keeper of the Guinness World Record for the most expensive cocktail, it starts with extremely rare 1865 Ritz Reserve cognac, made from grapes that were on the vine before the devastating phylloxera infestation of the 1860s. Only a few bottles remain.
     
  4. Those prices are crazy. One could get a couple bags instead. :smile:
     
  5. What if you got the martini with the diamond in it and drank the diamond too? oops!
     
  6. ^Eh, you'd eventually get it back...
     
  7. i suppose if every bar was that expensive there would be very few alcoholics.
    im addicted to the peach melba martini at harvey nichols right now. perfect for summer. not sure whats in it but its nice
     
  8. The idea of the sword martini is genius on the part of the bar. The martini with the diamond I can understand, but I can't believe people are convinced that a regular drink is worth $300 because it comes with a gold toothpick! I really really want one of those nitro-tinis though!!
     
  9. My goodness, and I thought a $15 martini in Toronto was expensive.....how funny.