Chefs' Picks: Pricey Drinks Worth the Cash

What Chefs Drink

Hey Chef, what's in your glass?

B.A.F. ($15) at Death + Company

[Photo: Eunice Choi]

There is nothing more shocking than being handed the bill at a bar and realizing that the rum in your Mojito set you back more than you make in an hour. Chefs certainly know which bottom shelf bottles are drinkable, but there are times when it's worth it to shell out for fancier liquor.

We asked chefs from around the country which drinks are worth the hefty price tag. Here's what they had to say...


Greg Baker of The Refinery in Tampa

"Pappy Van Winkle. I love a good bourbon, and the Van Winkles do an astoundingly good job. It is nearly impossible to find in Tampa, but when I do, I'm all over it." —Greg Baker (The Refinery)

"Louis XIII [cognac]. I have had it 3 times and have never been disappointed. It is smooth, subtle and refined. Well, I was disappointed once, but not by the drink. I bought a glass of Louis XIII for the brother of the bride, at a good friend's wedding, to split with so as to toast the bride and groom. Unfortunately, he let a girl he was hanging out with have a sip. However, she thought we were doing shots. Unceremoniously she tipped her head back and down went a $130 1.5 ounce shot of Louis XIII. There was no savoring, no enjoyment, just a wrinkled up nose and and slurred, "What the hell was that stuff?"" —Hank Costello (Andina)

"Aged wines. There are not enough restaurants or merchants with cellars anymore, so they are harder to find. But a wine that has aged 20 years or more is always so unique. You can really appreciate the complexity of wine and winemaking when you have a wine that has matured. My favorite wine that I ever had was a 1952 Chateau Margaux Grand Cru Bordeaux. It was definitely a religious experience for me." —Braden Wages (Malai Kitchen)


Marc Marrone of LAVO Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas

"A Taylor Fladgate 30-year port. You can truly taste the craft and care that went into making it, and anything aged that long is worth the wait and the price." —Marc Marrone (LAVO Italian Restaurant, TAO Asian Bistro)

"The Macallan 30 is the real deal. I really think anything that has been cared for and has seen the barrel for some time is worth it." —Justin Deviller (La Petite Grocery)


Sean Temple of Paulee in Dundee, Oregon

"Green Chartreuse V.E.P. You feel, or at least I do, that you are drinking complete perfection. I picture the monks who originally made this just having to high five each other and walking out of the room on a high note, like that Seinfeld episode when George learns to leave on the high note....bam, done we're's not getting any better than that." —Sean Temple (Paulee)

"Beer from Mikkeller Brewery, specifically the sours. In my opinion, I think that he makes the most unique and balanced beers out there. Most of his barrel aged sours are not the kind of sour that makes you pucker. They have a lot interesting flavors, too, like hay, bourbon, cherry, etc." —Justin Miller (Pizzeria Ortica)

"The only beverage that would take me out of my spending comfort zone is Champagne. Or maybe a particularly tasty Belgian beer." —Gabrielle Quinonez Denton (Ox)


Hung Huynh of The General and Catch in New York

"Milagro select barrel reserve Reposado on the rocks. The tequila has a lot of depth and is very smooth." —Hung Huynh (The General and Catch)

"Yamazaki 50 Years Old whiskey. Haven't had it but it's on my bucket list." —Bill Kim (bellyQ)

"Good whiskeys and bourbons are always worth the splurge to me—distilled Aventinus Chardonnay Aged, Hudson Baby Bourbon, and even Oban 18 year—price isn't a issue when the quality is guaranteed." —Michael Psilakis (Kefi, FishTag, MP Taverna)


Erik Niel of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee

"George T. Stagg bourbon, an antique collection from Buffalo Trace, aged over 15 years." —Erik Niel (Easy Bistro & Bar)

"Barolos and red Burgundies—both pair well with all kinds of food, and I've gotten into them over the years. I enjoy splurging on those nice bottles of red wine when there is an occasion to celebrate." —Harold Dieterle (Perilla, Kin Shop, The Marrow)

"Macallan 25. I've always been a fan of whiskey and not a fan of sweet drinks. Macallan 25 takes the place of a sweet, after-dinner drink, as opposed to a dessert wine or something of that nature." —Michael Ferraro (Delicatessen)

"I am a pretty low brow guy. I pretty much stick to Fernet." —Ben Bettinger (Imperial)

What fancy drink do you think is worth the price?

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