There’s a school of thought that insists a $14 cocktail should come with something like a nugget of gold. A beautiful companion, maybe. Something sparkly, or cashmere. Even a grilled cheese sandwich would help. By this logic, a cocktail is just a cocktail—if you’re going to pay more, it better come with something else.
Seems fair enough. The cocktail revolutionaries of our time might suggest that a good cocktail is in itself worth that kind of cash. But these guys are dressing up and shaking their drinks with theatrics. Even they know that a cocktail isn’t worth more than a ten spot—that’s why they provide a cocktail and a show.
The show at the Elysian’s Bernard’s is a little different from those at the mixology bars. There’s not a lot of face time with the bartender—you get a server instead. And the place is far too refined to fill the air with the sound of shaking ice (they fill it with Bon Iver). Here, the show is the luxury: The folded linen napkins. The table set with cocktail bites (marcona almonds, house-fried potato chips, marinated olives). The quiet, serious service. It’s an experience so luxe and attentive that the price of the drinks is justified even before you get them. So by the time one of the balanced, dry and almost excessively bold cocktails arrive, it actually seems like a steal.