On Election Night, I dined with friends at Pineapple and Pearls, and then sipped cocktails at Columbia Room. As the results trickled in all evening (not the way my group had hoped), the mood turned from mild concern, to worry, to disbelief. As we sat at our booth in the Tasting Room, we half-joked that since the future under this administration looked precariously uncertain, we should have ordered that 1811 Cognac off Derek’s menu.
After January 20, all bets are off, and like it or not, we’re going to watch it all unfold together. Whether you are celebrating or bemoaning the future of our country, maybe a little liquid indulgence is just what we need right now. Here’s where to get it.
The Splurge: Napoleon Grande Fine Champagne Reserve Cognac 1811
The Price: $950 per ounce
Why To Indulge: Derek Brown’s upscale cocktail bar in Blagden Alley acquired this bottle with a little help from collector Brian Robinson; Brown says it’s without a doubt the Columbia Room’s most prized offering. "It's nearly impossible to find a Cognac of both this age and pedigree available by the sip, and still tasting remarkably well I might add,” Brown notes. “”This also represents a hallmark year for then-emperor of France: after marrying Marie Louise of Austria, he welcomed his newborn son Napoléon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, whom he would designate, ‘King of Rome.’”
The Next Whisky Bar at the Watergate Hotel
The Splurge: Macallan “M”anhattan, served with 1986 Bertani Amarone Vermouth, and garnished with a cherry soaked in Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes.
The Price: $900
Why to Indulge: Macallan M, the single malt Scotch used in this wallet spendy version of the classic whisky cocktail, is noticeably deeper, darker and richer than even the producer’s 25-year-old version--not to mention it’s packaged in a hand-blown Lalique crystal decanter. It’s comprised of whisky from seven casks selected by Macallan master distiller Bob Dalgarno after more than two years of searching through the producer’s vast cellar of 195,000 barrels. The oldest spirit in it dates back to 1940, and all were matured in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks. Sure, you could sip it neat, but stirring it with a vintage Amarone-based vermouth and adorning it with a cherry soaked in France’s most prestigious dessert wine decidedly ups the luxe factor.
The Splurge: Krug MV Grande Cuvée Brut Champagne
The Price: $50 per glass
Why to Indulge: This blend from the legendary Champagne house touts Grand Cru Chardonnay from Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Grand Cru Pinot Noir from Ambonnay and Grand Cru Pinot Meunier from Aÿ--some of the best-situated plots in the entire Champagne region, points out wine director Jennifer Knowles. And, she adds, “Krug uses oak casks that are specifically made for them from specific trees, some of which are upwards of 200 years old; oak in Champagne is rare in it of itself let alone from the caliber of wood and cooperage they’re using.” Rather than impart any woody flavors, though, the oak is used simply to enhance the wine’s gentle texture. And, Krug’s corks are all individually examined, a time-consuming process that assures none used is faulted or tainted. The end result? A truly special glass of bubbles. (Krug fans: Plume also offers a bottle of vintage 1979 for $2,400, and the 1995 Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs for $8,500.)
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
The Splurge: 1982 Château Latour from the Pauillac region of Bordeaux
The Price: $2,999 per bottle
Why to Indulge: “Exceptionally rare, it is produced from one of the greatest Bordeaux vintages of all time, by one of only five classified Premier Cru (First Growth) wineries in the world,” explains concept wine director Kevin Bratt. “Now is the perfect window of opportunity to enjoy this special bottle, as it is aged to perfection." Try it with the massive twenty-four ounce dry aged bone-in ribeye (one of the most flavorful cuts you can order), and don’t miss a side of chilled stone crabs.
The Splurge: 2000 Krug Clos du Mesnil Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
The Price: $2,300 per bottle
Why to Indulge: The grapes for this wine are sourced from a single-walled plot under two acres that’s considered to be one of the finest terroirs in Champagne and extremely in demand, says sommelier Moez Ben-Achour. The 2000 vintage is superlative--and also one of chef Robert Wiedmaier’s personal favorites. “There’s a definite ‘wow’ factor when a bottle comes out to a table,” muses Ben-Achour. “Uncorking one opens up a whole experience, [and] when I smell a glass of Krug, I forget all my problems; the clock stops and only good thoughts go through my mind.” Good thoughts, including how well it goes with Marcel’s caviar service.
The Splurge: 2004 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Perrieres, Meursault Premier Cru, from Burgundy
The Price: $895 per bottle
Why to Indulge: One of the biggest pieces of advice sommelier Winn Roberton could lend to steakhouse diners is not to forget about the white wine, which pair perfectly with appetizers and give guests something to drink while the red starts to bloom in the decanter. “One sip and you’ll escape the cold winter and travel south to Meursault in Burgundy, where you can taste notes of crisp yellow apples and creamy hazelnut,” he explains, adding that it’s a synergistic match with Bourbon Steak’s rich, buttery lobster pot pie.
The Splurge: 2013 Gaja Sito Moresco Nebbiolo / Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
The Price: $40 per glass
Why to Indulge: Bold, full-bodied and full of grip and structure, this is what big red wine drinkers want when they order a Barolo, says corporate wine director Casper Rice. “You will not see this wine being poured by the glass anywhere else,” he points out. “It has the same nuances (leather, mint, sour cherry) with much more weight from the inclusion of a couple Bordeaux varietals.” Try it alongside honey roasted Rohan duck breast with foie gras, butternut squash and quince.