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The New York Palace hotel concluded its $140 million renovation earlier this year with the opening of Rarities. This 25-seat jewel box of a lounge offers some of the most rare and sought-after drinks in the world—at a price. Scotch can go for more than $2,000 a dram, and though the bar is open to the public, you’ll need to pony up $15,000 for an annual membership (or stay in one of the hotel’s tower suites) to get a reservation. Beverage director Justin Lorenz told us about some of its priciest, rarest offerings.
Ardbeg 1974 ($1,285 for 2 oz.)
1974 is a renowned vintage for this super-smoky Scotch. “It has the distinction of being one of the only bottlings left from when the distillery still did its own floor malting [a labor-intensive process that’s rare today],” says Lorenz.
Fladgate Scion Port ($485 for 2 oz.)
This tawny port was made in the 19th century, from the grape harvest of 1855, and passed down through the generations until it was finally bottled in 2010. “It went mostly to private collectors, so you don’t hear about it enough to drive up prices,” says Lorenz. “I think it should be way more expensive and I’m glad that it isn’t.”
Nolet’s Reserve Gin ($105 for 2 oz.)
A 10th-generation distiller, Carolus Nolet, Sr., spent more than four decades developing the recipe for this gin, whose botanicals include saffron (the world’s most expensive spice) and lemon verbena. “It’s definitely a sipping gin, not a cocktail gin, since the exotic botanicals themselves already have the complexity of a cocktail,” says Lorenz. In 2010, total production was just 498 bottles.
Hannisville Rye Whiskey ($175 for 2 oz.)
This pre-Prohibition whiskey, distilled in 1912 and bottled in 1922, was made by a prominent distilling company that was founded in 1863. “It’s probably the best American whiskey I’ve ever tasted,” says Lorenz. “I’m already working on finding more.”
Black Tot Rum, British Royal Navy Last Consignment ($150 for 2 oz.)
Until 1970, British Royal Navy sailors would receive rations of this West Indian rum during voyages. After the “last consignment,” the remaining stock was stored in wicker-clad, stone flagons and only brought out for major state events or royal weddings. A very small amount has been made available to private collectors, and Lorenz was lucky enough to secure an allocation.
1947 Château Cheval Blanc, Bordeaux ($20,000 per bottle)
This storied Bordeaux, which is uncommonly rich and drinks almost like a port, is touted by many as the greatest wine ever made. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most commonly counterfeited. “I’m very confident about the bottles we have,” says Lorenz, who notes that he's tasted from multiple bottles and has come across fakes before.
Joe Harper is the assistant research editor at Food & Wine. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter: @ohjoeharper