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Baccarat is known for its high-end crystal products, and their New York City hotel is dripping in them. So, when it came time to create a new cocktail, it was bound to be over-the-top. And they delivered. The five-star Midtown just announced they are now serving the L’Imperial drink, which costs $5,000.
This opulent cocktail is inspired by two things: the prohibition-era Last Word cocktail and Baccarat’s stunning Tsar Glass. First, the Last Word was created by Vaudeville performer Frank Fogarty at Detroit’s Athletic Club Bar in the 1920s and consisted of equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice. It cost .35 cents, making it the most expensive drink at the club during that time.
Then, the Tsar glass was designed in 1909 for Nicholas II, who fell in love with Baccarat in 1896 during his honeymoon in Paris. It was famous for its special sparkle and was typically used during lavish suppers held by the Russian Court.
The L’Imperial cocktail combines both of these elements to justify the five-figure price tag. So, what exactly makes it so pricey? The ingredients for starters.
The drink is made with Nolet’s Gin Reserve, which uses Verbena and the most expensive spice in the world, saffron. It’s also crafted by Carolus Nolet Sr. who personally approves each bottle. For the green Chartreuse, the hotel uses a vintage version from the 1920s and is the rarest of elements that gives this cocktail its edge.
“Having just acquired an ‘impossible-to-get’ vintage bottle of green Chartreuse circa 1921-1926 from France, I was very intrigued and felt as if I was holding a piece of history in my hands,” said Antoine Hodge, Bar & Spirits Director, Baccarat Hotel New York, an American Express Fine Hotel & Resort property, in a statement. “This drove me to do the unexpected and use it in a cocktail. Knowing Chartreuse was a staple in the Last Word cocktail, it seemed only fitting to recreate this timeless drink.”
Next, the Maraschino Liqueur is aged in cherry oak to pay homage to the Last Word’s classic cherry garnish. And the lime juice goes through an in-house clarification adding a rich, velvety texture to the drink once it is shaken. Even the garnish was expertly curated. The hotel’s culinary director, Two-Michelin starred chef Gabriel Kreuther used a hand-pressed Amarena cherry with gold leaf set atop saffron. Plus, the drink is accompanied by Beluga Vodka Caviar Pearls with Kaffir Lime.
While all of these rare ingredients make the cocktail pricey already ($1,400 for the drink to be served in a regular glass), what makes it hit that $5,000 mark is the glass it’s served in: the Tsar glass. It takes intense labor and skill to make and is double cased with colored crystal covering the clear crystal, which is then cut to reveal the splendor within. Only the best artisans in France—Meilleurs Ouvriers de France—can accomplish this wonder.
“Great things in life are created to be enjoyed in life,” said Hodge. “My vision for it was focused on its history and simplicity with a desire to elevate it through the use of premier ingredients, rare spirits, and a glass that takes your breath away.”