You: “I’d like a Miller High Life.” Bartender: “$8 dollars.” You: “…No, I’m sorry, I said a Miller High Life.” Bartender: “Yeah. And I said $8 bucks.” Such was my experience at a local bar that shall remain unnamed. Much to my chagrin, I’ve found a number of libations even more extravagantly costly, some not even located in our country. According to the world’s most rigorous compository of semi-useless information, The Guinness Book Of World Records, the globe’s costliest cocktail is a libation composed primarily of century-old cognac. Known as The Winston, this exorbitant quaff was auctioned off for almost $13,000. Second place goes to two pricey potations: Las Vegas’ Ono Champagne Cocktail and the Diamonds Are Forever Martini of the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. Both these inebriates are complemented by accessory precious stones to help justify the steep pricetag. Offered only once per annum, a trademark mint julep at the Kentucky Derby will run you $1,000 even, but, to be fair, unlike unwise wagers, at least you’ll receive something for your money. Looking to quench your thirst a little closer to home? At the now-defunct Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge, their signature designer-inspired High Roller, made with Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Champagne and Louis XIII De Rémy Martin cognac, set you back a (comparatively) reasonable $450.
Eager to elucidate just what it is that goes into those cocktail prices we love to gripe about so much, I spoke to Josh Alperstein, bar manager and resident mixologist at hip neighborhood bar The Anderson. “There are basically a few factors that go into drink pricing,” he says. “The style and quality of the spirit, the accessory ingredients used and the tenor of the venue.” A man from perhaps more humble means than the drinks defined above but painfully familiar with the excesses of industry, Alperstein says $1,000+ drinks are “something I would never buy, but can see how it could be priced that way.” The most expensive drink at The Anderson? The “Let’s Dance,” a celebrated iteration of the dirty martini that runs you a grand total of $14. Cheers to that!