Yesterday I was invited to The Playboy Club in Mayfair to witness maestro bartender Salvatore Calabrese attempt to break the world record for the world's most expensive cocktail, held by The Skyview Bar at the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, with a £3,766.52 tipple. In front of a Guinness World Records adjudicator and a raucous audience of London’s top bartenders, Calabrese revealed the four elements that would make up his Salvatore's Legacy cocktail.
Made up of 40ml of 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac, bottled around the time of the American Revolution, along with 20ml of 1770 Kummel Liqueur – the year Captain Cook claimed of Australia, 20ml of 1860 Dubb Orange Curacao and two dashes of Angostura Bitters from the 1900s, Calabrese priced the liquid history at £5,500 a glass. All he needed to break the world record was a buyer.
Silence fell upon the packed room as he was presented with the first bottle – 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac, which took Calabrese over five minutes to prize open with a combination of a knife, corkscrew and metal tongs. The following three bottles proved easier to enter, with Calabrese using his first ever shaker to mix the spirits in, pouring the result into a vintage cocktail glass. Fortunately for Calabrese, the cocktail was bought by a long-term client.
Click on the video below to watch Salvatore in action
The record comes just three months after Calabrese was left “heartbroken” when a treasured bottle of 1788 Clos de Griffier Cognac worth £50,000 was smashed by a customer at Calabrese’s bar at The Playboy Club. The bottle, which was destined for the record attempt, fell off the table when the customer asked to look at the label, having ordered two glasses at £5,050 each.
“I was devastated when the bottle smashed and thought my dream of breaking the world record was over, but it has all worked out,” a jubilant Calabrese told me after smashing the world record. I was lucky enough to try a drop left over in the shaker and was astounded by its freshness and vivacity. It tasted like Vermouth, with herbal hints, spicy notes and a bitter edge. There’s life in the old bottles yet.