Why This Cocktail Costs $5,000

Why This Cocktail Costs $5,000


Emily Christian: I am
at the Baccarat Hotel in New York City. Yes, that’s Baccarat as in the
luxury French crystal brand. So everything from the hotel to the bar is decked out in crystals. But the pièce de résistance
is a $5,000 cocktail, served in Baccarat crystal. I’m here today to find
out why this cocktail warrants this enormous price tag. It tastes like a cherry. Antoine Hodge: It tastes like a cherry. My visit would be guided by Antoine Hodge, the head mixologist and
inventor of the drink aptly named L’Imperial. I created this cocktail. It was inspired by the Tsar Glass. And it was named after
the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. So when I heard “last tsar,” I thought of the last word cocktail. To do a classic riff on that
with high-end ingredients, to kind of respect the glass, and the history, and all of that. And it started there. Antoine it’s wonderful to meet you. Hello, pleasure.
Thank you so much for having us here today.
Antoine: Of course. I’m wondering right off the bat what makes this drink so special? So what makes this drink so special, first of all, is the glass. So you get a $3,600 glass takeaway. Oh, to take home with you? So you do get a souvenir, with you. Wow. But also the components that go into it, the spirits that we use,
are very rare and exclusive. So all the value is in the
glass and in these spirits. So this drink, the glass is $3,600? Antoine: Yes. And that’s starting to
make more sense to me why the drink itself is $5,000. But you’re still drinking $1,400. So you must have some
really nice spirits here. So what we’re about to
see in the $5,000 cocktail is a very rare Chartreuse
that we’ve acquired, that you won’t see anywhere else. We’ve tried, we’ve looked for it. We’ve only found one bottle
of this particular age. So as far as you’re concerned, here you are the sole owners
of this year of Chartreuse. This is the one bottle
available in the world as far as you can find? Antoine: Yes. And you’re letting me have some? Antoine: Yes.
Yikes. What makes this year of
this Chartreuse so special? It is a last word cocktail
and this Chartreuse is from the same era when this classic last word cocktail was invented. This is a 100-year-old bottle of alcohol. Antoine: Yes. And it holds up? Emily: The recipe for Chartreuse
originated 500 years ago in 1605, when a monastery in France received an alchemist’s manuscript
for a mysterious elixir. The recipe called for a
blend of 130 different herbs that would form a perfect tonic. Over the years they adapted what was known as the Elixir of Long Life into what we know as Green Chartreuse. To this day, the precious
recipe is known only by two monks who oversee the distillery and use its profits to continue
the work of their monastery. In 1901 the monks who make Chartreuse were actually ousted out of France and they had to make their Chartreuse in Spain. So this Chartreuse is from when they were making it in Spain. Antoine: Yes.
100 years ago. Antoine: Which makes it even more rare. It’s exile Chartreuse.
Antoine: Exile Chartreuse. The monks were all about sharing so with the philosophy that we have, we wanted to crack open the
bottle and make a cocktail to be able to share it with everyone. So you aren’t just keeping it on a shelf, we’re actually enjoying it. We want people to enjoy
it, yeah, of course. Yeah, well I really hope that I like it. How strong is this alcohol? It’s strong, but you’ll
get a lot of sweetness to counteract that as well. But if you drank a lot
of it, how strong is it? You know what I mean? You’ll feel it. The price for one ounce would be $1,150. Emily: The L’Imperial cocktail contains one whole ounce of the 1920 Chartreuse. This vintage of Chartreuse is so rare that once the bottle is
gone, it’s gone for good. Amazingly I had the opportunity to try a small taste of this spirit
right from the bottle. (exhaling) 100 years of history. Preserved in this glass. I would give it a swirl, give it a sniff. I put it in the snifter just so you can kind of smell it first to get yourself ready. Antoine: It’s intense. It’s a powerful smell. Antoine: You’re gonna get
a strong sense of tarragon, and the savory note would
lead you to maybe peppercorn. What do you think?
Ooh. It’s delicious! It’s very good.
Antoine: Yes. The smell was so strong I was worried that I would be overcome,
but it’s so easy to drink. Very easy to drink, very smooth, it has a nice viscous texture to it. And the sweetness, the
bitterness, the aromatics, all of it is in a nice warm presentation. It’s warm. Antoine: It’s very warming. – And when you mentioned
baking spices it does, it tastes like very
comfortable, very warming. Like you’re drinking a baked good. Like maybe a spice cake
or something like that. Emily: The time had come to truly see what goes into this extravagant drink. In addition to the 100-year-old Chartreuse the L’Imperial is made with top shelf gin, cherry oak aged maraschino
liqueur, lime juice, and of course, a golden cherry on top. My version of the
cocktail included an ounce of Baccarat’s standard issue Chartreuse. Antoine assured me that this would be a similar tasting
experience, and I knew that any more Chartreuse from
the 100 year old bottle was better off preserved
for true connoisseurs. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh! I would definitely use both hands. Oh yeah, I mean I’m very
nervous to pick this up. And I was thinking, okay, how can a glass look like $3,600, and then
you put this in front of me. And it’s all become, no pun intended, but very crystal clear. Emily: What should I be
tasting in this cocktail? Antoine: So you’re
gonna taste a little bit of the baking spice that you have, the gin adds a little
bit of aromatics as well. Emily: All these ingredients are used to really boost up the Chartreuse. All right, hm. Hm. Okay. Yes. Woo. Mm. It’s wonderful!
What do you think? It’s delicious. It has all the flavors of the Chartreuse. But it just feels more fun
to me, you know what I mean? Yeah, it’s not as constricting and heavy. It actually brings it out,
it’s light and refreshing. I feel like if you’re here to spend $5,000 on a cocktail you’re here
to have a really good time. Antoine: You’re here to enjoy it.
Emily: Yes. And this drink is enjoyable
from start to finish. It’s not one of those
drinks that you drink and you’re kinda like (throat clearing). It’s certainly the best
drink I’ve ever had. I’m gonna have another sip, and I’m gonna go with
more confidence this time. Our final tally for
the L’Imperial Cocktail comes out to $3,600 for a
souvenir Baccarat crystal glass. And $1,150 for an ounce of
100-year-old Green Chartreuse. Leaving $250 for other
top shelf ingredients and expert craftsmanship. A grand total of $5,000 for a bar-goer’s ultimate cocktail splurge. It was a fun experience to eat it. You have gold in your teeth.
Oh no. Well, I’ll be here.