Today saw the creation of the world’s oldest, most expensive cocktail: Salvatore’s Legacy, a blend of Kummel, cognac, orange curaçao, and a dash of Angostura bitters.
No diamonds or gold flake here—the drink’s luxurious price tag is accounted for solely by how ancient the spirits are that went into it. The cognac is a 1778 Clos de Griffier from the Napoleon era, the Kummel is eight years older than the cognac, and the Dubb orange curaçao and Angostura bitters are mere babes, born in 1860 and 1900, respectively.
Combined, the luxe ingredients have an age of over 700 years, and they’ll set you back a staggering £5,500. The real millionaire’s cocktail is the dream of Salvatore Calabrese, owner of the world’s greatest drinks collection and the eponymous Salvatore at Playboy bar.
Our man Rufus Exton was on the scene to see the record-breaking mixology go down. Here’s what he had to say:
“A little after midday proceedings began, but unsurprisingly 200-year-old bottles of liqueur proved rather difficult to uncork. Mr. Calabrese proved his mettle while dealing with the finicky £50,000 bottle of cognac. An array of impressive tools came out, and there were beads of sweat and even a jot of blood, but thankfully ten minutes later all four bottles were opened, taste-tested, and set side by side on an altar next to me. This fact made me awkwardly nervous—the sheer value of these bottles, the ceremony, the photographers, the possibility that I could cause so much damage with one misplaced, hungover sweep of the hand. It felt as if someone had left me alone with a baby.
There was a little left over and in an extreme case of ‘the right place at the right time’ I got a chance to take a £500 sip.
The mixing was surprisingly simple: 40ml of cognac, 20ml Kummel, 20ml orange curaçao, and two dashes of bitters, all mixed with a large piece of crystal-clear ice then served in a 200-year-old glass. The finished product was served to its buyer, a man that would remain anonymous, who requested no photographs and who had paid the princely sum solely to allow Salvatore to achieve his dream and break this world record.
There was a little left over and in an extreme case of ‘the right place at the right time’ I got a chance to take a £500 sip. And how did it taste? Well, it was surprisingly subtle, a gentle taste of orange, caraway seeds on the nose: a delight. Are those my words? No. They came from New York’s finest bartender Dale DeGroff, and they sounded spot on.
All in all, a beautiful few hours; from the altar-like setup to the ceremonious way it was presented, a wonderfully religious experience. Am I fawning over Salvatore? Well yes, it is impossible not to—his love and devotion to all things alcoholic is irresistibly infectious, he has dedicated his life to making drinkers as happy as can be. Along the way, he has built up the world’s finest drinks collection. He even owns a bottle of Kina Lillet, the defunct martini that James Bond orders in Casino Royale to make the original Vesper Martini. I’m hoping one day if I ask really, really nicely he may consider opening it.”