America's Most-Extravagant Cocktails
When you're feeling a little extra, these cocktails deliver. Vintage spirits, luxurious accoutrements and unique technique make these showy sippers worth spending more for.
Photo By: Jen Smulo
Photo By: Bob Hodson Photography
Sazerac at the High Limit Lounge, Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas ($1,500)
Vegas breeds high rollers, and if you have some extra cash to spend, this $1,500 cocktail may be worth the splurge. The Hardy Thoroughbred Cognac is the star of the show, and the High Limit Lounge is the only place you can find it. In fact, only 30 bottles were made, so eventually you won't be able to find it at all. The cocktail is rounded out by V.E.P. green Chartreuse, Peychaud's bitters, demerara sugar, and a rinse of absinthe and lemon oil.
Forbidden Love at The Dorsey, Las Vegas ($2,000)
Hit the jackpot? If you have $2,000 in winnings to spare, indulge in The Dorsey's Forbidden Love, made with 21-year-old Suntory Hibiki Japanese whiskey, a Kyoto green tea tincture, plum liqueur and sherry. The cocktail is sprinkled with gold flakes and accompanied by an ounce of caviar.
Fugu Del at Serea, San Diego ($150)
This $150 cocktail at Serea is full of fun surprises that start before you even take a sip. The hand-blown blowfish glass from Spain is served on a wood board with a shell of dry ice that gives off the scent of the beach. Those beach vibes remain when you take a sip of the drink, which is made with Beluga Platinum vodka, Marcona almond orgeat, Meyer lemon and 2006 Dom Perignon Champagne.
The Rockefeller at Grant Grill, San Diego ($100)
Reflecting the wealth of its namesake, John D. Rockefeller, Grant Grill's rich cocktail is made with scotch, Grand Marnier 1880 and PX 1986 sherry. Aromas of cedar and tobacco leaf are added to enhance the essence of the $100 sip, and dark chocolate is served on the side for added decadence.
Pure Indulgence at Bottle & Bond, Bardstown, Kentucky ($55)
You'll find this $55 cocktail on the Bourbon Trail, so right from the start you know the bourbon is top-notch. But much more than awesome bourbon goes into this Bottle & Bond creation, which is really two cocktails in one. The first is made with Bardstown Bourbon Discovery Series #1, Bonal, Gran Classico and olive bitters. The second is a mix of Bardstown Bourbon Phifer Pavitt Reserve, Terroir Gin, Velvet Falernum, white pepper, bitters and basil. The two potions are combined tableside in a smoked rocks glass to make one inventive and very savory cocktail.
The Grant at Red O, Newport Beach, California ($50)
Chicago's famed Rick Bayless brought his Mexican creations out west, and with them came a slew of stellar margaritas. The most luxe of them all is The Grant, a $50 margarita served with a gold salted rim, a caramelized pineapple slice and an extra shot of premium tequila on the side. The margarita itself is made with premium El Tesoro anejo tequila, mandarin, fresh lime and agave. (Also available at Red O's Santa Monica and La Jolla locations.)
The Admiral at Bad Luck Bar, Detroit ($200)
If you're serious about the craft of cocktails, this Motor City bar is for you. Instead of focusing on chatting with patrons at neighboring tables, you are encouraged to soak in the history of rare spirits and the craftsmanship of cocktails. The Admiral, at $200, is a true experience of British Royal Navy rum. Two 1-ounce glasses of the vintage rum are served side by side: one lightly shaken with fresh lime juice and Okinawa black molasses, the other served neat with a locally made Guilt bonbon on the side.
Heart of Gold at the Water Tower, Brooklyn ($150)
Truffles make everything more luxurious, even cocktails. This tequila-based $150 cocktail at the Water Tower is made with white-truffle-infused Aperol, Patron Gran Platinum tequila and Carpano Antica vermouth. Each sip brings out bursts of citrus and umami. A shaving of white truffle on top doesn't hurt.
Velvet Horse at Bad Harriet, Aspen, Colorado ($150)
A cross between a Black Velvet and a Horse's Neck, this layered $150 cocktail at Bad Harriet is served in a champagne flute with Guinness stout and Old Rip Van Winkle 10-year bourbon. Dom Perignon is poured over the top as a float. The best part? You'll get your very own black-and-turquoise leather mini saddle to take home.
Honey Ginger Infusion at Contour, Ritz-Carlton, New York ($64)
Honey and ginger aren't just for a sore throat. In Contour's beautifully steeped $64 cocktail, those sweet and spicy flavors come alive with ginger zest vodka, honey syrup, grapefruit, honeycomb, rosemary, fresh ginger and ginger beer, all in a clear vessel for a true sip-and-see experience.
Oliver's Dream at The French Room Bar, Dallas ($75)
This Texan bar emits opulence with its black marble countertops, ruby red fireplaces and velvet accents. It's the perfect place for sipping a luxe martini like this $75 one, made with Beluga vodka and blanc vermouth, and served with a platter of garnishes: sea beans, lemon pearls, Picholine olives and caviar.
Vintage Bijou at Canon Bar, Seattle ($275)
There's a reason that spirits lovers flock to this Pacific Northwest bar — it boasts the largest spirits collection in America, with more than 4,000 varieties. It's also no surprise that the bartenders here have some rare and unique craft cocktails up their sleeve, like the Vintage Bijou, a classic cocktail from the 1800s. Canon Bar's version pulls in vintage spirits (though not 1800s vintage!) like a 1950 House of Lords Gin, and vermouth and Chartreuse from the early 1960s, plus bitters to round out this herbaceous $275 cocktail.
Brandy Crusta at Travelle, Chicago ($50)
The Brandy Crusta ($50) is a recipe drawn from the archives: It was featured in Jerry Thomas' 1862 book The Bartender's Guide. The cocktail has stood the test of time, and Travelle's version features Grand Marnier Cuvée 1880 and Boker's Bitters, garnished with a sugar rim and a horse's neck lemon twist.
Fistful of Dollars Margarita at Geronimo's, Fairfield, Connecticut ($75)
As the name suggests, you'll need a fistful of dollars — 75, to be exact — to indulge in this special margarita made with Herradura Seleccion Suprema extra anejo tequila, which is aged for four years before it's bottled. Throw in some Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire and you have a pretty special cocktail. Soak it up with some true New Mexican food made with chiles imported directly from the Southwestern city. (Also served at the New Haven location of Geronimo's.)
Martini with Nolet's Reserve Gin at The Green Room, Burbank, California ($158)
If a regular martini doesn't make you feel sophisticated enough, try the $158 one at this Burbank bar within a restaurant. This elevated recipe includes Nolet's Reserve gin, plus Castelvetrano olives stuffed with Petrossian caviar and Cabrales blue cheese.