“For your average barfly, the Columbia Room’s prix fixe Tasting Room cocktail menu — which starts at $79 for three cocktails paired with small bites in the meticulous Blagden Alley lounge — is a splurge. But even the Columbia Room’s priciest “experiences,” which incorporate champagne and osetra caviar, are far cheaper than the cost of a single ounce of cognac in the bar’s Spirits Library.
Okay, it’s not just any cognac: It’s an 1811 Napoleon cognac, from one of the most renowned cognac vintages in history, which is why its price tag is a hefty $950, the most expensive of almost two dozen vintage spirits priced by the ounce.
For Columbia Room founder Derek Brown, a library of historical spirits is like a cellar of vintage wines. “You’re not just buying something old, you’re buying something indicative of a different era, something very rare,” he says.