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No Thanks, But I'll Take the Cash


SAN FRANCISCO -- Next time you're in town, don't be surprised if no one offers to buy you a drink. They may be afraid Bezuidenhout is catching.

This story began this summer at Harry Denton's (above) Starlight Room on the 21st floor of downtown's Sir Francis Drake Hotel, north of Union Square. That's where Jacques Bezuidenhout is mixing a drink called Drinking the Stars.

Mr. B. (shown below), perhaps San Fran's top chic-bar drink mixer, has come up with a concoction of infused Armagnac and Dom Perignon in a huge champagne flute. A nice little champagne cocktail and a nice little price of $650 a pop.

That is not a typographical error. $650. It's one of a group of what he calls "million-dollar cocktails" that range from $80 to $650 a drink. They combine such super-premium spirits as Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac and Herradura Seleccion Suprema tequila. And, what they're mixed with is exotic, too, with such items as walnut liqueur and a South African red-herb rooibos tea put into use.

Impressive ingredients, but $650? Actually, the drink is offered in two sizes -- $375 for a 750 ml bottle of 1966 Dom Perignon Champagne and $650 for a magnum, which is equal to two bottles.

Bezuidenhout infuses 1979 Chateau de Ravignan Armagnac with Madagascar vanilla bean, orange peel and raisin, which sweeten the liqueur. He pours the spirit into flutes, then adds the champagne. The Armagnac and the remaining champagne are left at the table and customers can mix their own followup glasses.

Other examples from the list:

• The least pricey of the quartet at $80 is something Bezuidenhout labeled the Heavenly Dram: Macallan's 25 Year Old single malt Scotch with Garvey Pedro Ximenez Sherry 1860. The smokey, fruity Scotch is combined with the raisin-like sherry, lemon juice and honey-flavored simple syrup.

• The Elegancia cocktail, priced at $90, utilizes the aforementioned Herradura tequila plus Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes, a sweet wine, floated on top and the drink finished with the rooibos tea and orange bitters.

• The Angels Share starts with Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac, Domaine Charbay's Nostalgie Black Walnut Liqueur and Porto Rocha 20 Year Old Tawny. The cool thing with this drink is that Bezuidenhout coats a snifter with green Chartreuse VEP, a 110-proof herbal liqueur, before making the drink, creating heat and coolness at the same time.

The SF Gate Web site asked Bezuidenhout who buys these drinks.

"Exactly who you'd expect," he says. "Mostly celebrities, musicians and wealthy men looking to impress their dates. ... It's a status thing, and most people can't afford to indulge."


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