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Bucket List Booze: 4 Over-the-Top Cocktails to Try Before You Die

Modern Nomad is a weekly column dedicated to mobile gear, must-see world destinations, tips for life on the road, and traveling better through technology.

For a properly crafted cocktail in cities like Boston, NYC, or Los Angeles, you can easily expect to shell out $25 or more. But these four unique cocktails boast some of the world’s most lavish, over-the-top ingredients and preparations, often with a sky-high price tag to match.

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep (Louisville, KY)

Kentucky-Derby-Mint-Julep
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Few cocktails are more representative of The Deep South than the classic mint julep. But the branded Kentucky Derby Mint Julep elevates the humble cocktail to an absurd level. The recipe features Woodford Reserve bourbon, turbinado sugar, local, Louisville-sourced mint, and 10,000-year-old glacial ice, all served in a limited edition Tiffany & Co silver cup at the annual Kentucky Derby horse racing event. Price tag: $1,000 (USD)

Related: The Best Hot Cocktails for Cold Autumn Weather

Sumo Mary (Chicago)

Sumo Mary Cocktail (Sunda, Chicago)
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Of course, you needn’t shell out a grand to score a must-have cocktail. Chicago’s landmark Asian restaurant, Sunda, blurs the line between entree and beverage with their 32-ounce Sumo Mary. This absurd version of the classic hangover cure boasts a lengthy ingredient list including Bloody Mary mix and Absolut vodka served in a mason jar, then topped with roasted potatoes, Chinese broccoli, tocino grilled cheese, a baked snow crab roll, braised pork belly, duck bao, and bacon. It’s every bit as ridiculous and awesome as it looks. Price tag: $40

Cotton Candy Nitrotini (Charleston, SC)

Nitrotini
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There’s a certain beauty in science and Charleston’s Grill 225 pays homage to that fact with their elaborate Cotton Candy Nitrotini. The Mr.-Wizard-meets-Mr.-Boston cocktail includes X-rated Fusion liqueur, Pinnacle Cotton Candy vodka, pink lemonade, and grenadine, all garnished with a tall cotton candy cloud. The concoction is then topped with liquid nitrogen cooled to -320°F, forming a dramatic, smokey vapor atop the glass. If a cotton candy cocktail is a little too “country fair” for you, the entire Nitrotini menu includes more toned-down versions as well. Just be sure to heed the drink’s included warning label (“Nitrotinis should be given the same respect as fire”), which seems intent on completely dissuading you from imbibing it in the first place. Price tag: $19

Ono Champagne Cocktail (Las Vegas)

Ono-Champagne-Cocktail
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Las Vegas’s reputation for excess is legendary, so it’s no surprise that the city is home to one of the country’s most extravagant bespoke cocktails. XS at the Encore Wynn casino offers an exclusive Ono Champagne Cocktail — a blend of ultra-rare $90,000-a-bottle Louis XIII Black Pearl cognac, Charles Heidsieck 1981 Champagne Charlie, apricot puree, fresh orange juice, and Sence rose nectar. If you’ve ever wanted to party like Alex Rodriguez or a hedge fund manager, your cocktail has arrived. Price tag: $10,000

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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