John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The "Ruby Rose" is made with premium vodka, grapefruit juice and a four-carat gemstone.
The new contender for world's most expensive cocktail is definitely a sipping drink. That's because you'll want to savor the smooth notes of the artisanal Hangar 1 vodka – and not choke to death on the surprise at the bottom, a big ol' four-carat ruby.
Ridiculously rich drinkers, or just wealthy people with pica, will want to head over to the White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine. Starting in June, the frou-frou hotel and spa will be offering a libation that costs a rather obscene $40,000. The "Ruby Rose" is made with Hangar 1, a grape-based spirit distilled at an old naval airfield in Alameda, California, as well as St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh grapefruit and pomegranate juices and a splash of rosewater. The Portland Press-Herald reports that a New York jeweler is picking out the rubies, which a white-gloved server will drop into the cocktails before conveying them to purchasers on silver trays.
Yes, the White Barn is fully expecting to sell a few of these bank-account vampires, commemorations for the hotel's 40th anniversary. Here's maitre d' Matthew Swinford explaining why the inn could mix multiple orders of the potentially tooth-cracking cocktail, which would be "quite a feat in this economy" according to the Press-Herald:
Actually, Swinford thinks they could sell two. Remember, this is the White Barn Inn, where wealthy businessmen, celebrities and politicians seeking a lot of luxury and a little discretion can stay in the 620-square-foot Loft Suite (separate entrance, steam shower, marble bath with heated floors) for more than $800 a night.
And that's during the off-season.
For inn guests with "particular tastes," Swinford said, "the dollar amount is not the issue. It's the experience."
It's questionable how sound of an investment it would be to order this rare palliative. Four-carat rubies are selling online for a range of prices, like $7,000 for one in "good" condition and $40,000 for a "very good" quality one. But if any place in the country can afford to throw ducats at dubious stuff, it's the well-to-do Kennebunk, whose residents were recently in the news for paying a collective $150,000 to an erotically talented Zumba instructor.
Before news of the "Ruby Rose" surfaced, the world's priciest tongue-loosener might have been the $12,916 "Winston" at Club 23 in Melbourne, made from 1858 Cognac Croizet. Before that, it was probably a $8,830 cognac/herb liqueur/orange curaçao-based tipple at London's Playboy Club. For status-obsessed folks with cash to burn, both of those probably now look as appealing as cans of day-old Natty Light with dead gnats in them.