Louis XIII Keeps Getting Pricier (and People Keep Drinking It)
We wanted to know more about the allure of expensive cognac, so we asked the experts: Dallas bartenders
Pappas Brothers Steakhouse
$150 for 1-ounce pour
$595 for 1-ounce pour of Louis XIII Black Pearl, which recently sold out
Master sommelier Barbara Werley says the regular customers are the typical buyers of Louis XIII Black Pearl. But there’s one particular group who would come in quite often for several ounces of the cognac. “Some of the Dallas Cowboys drink it,” she says. “I think part of [the reason they like] it is just the rarity of it. There’s just very little made, and it’s just hard to get it.” Pappas Brothers Steakhouse was one of the very few restaurants in Dallas that carried Louis XIII Black Pearl. When the restaurant received an invitation to serve it in 2006, it purchased two of the three bottles available to the North Texas area. Both empty bottles went to regulars who bought the last several shots.
Mansion on Turtle Creek
$250 for 1-ounce pour
“As cognac in the last 12 years has become more and more popular, people have become more educated on it,” says bar manager Adam Karpf. “So we have to have the best possible cognac out there for our customers to buy. It’s strong and it’s that blast of smoke, fig, and herb that you really look for in a cognac.”
Bob’s Steak and Chop House
$179 for 2-ounce pour
“It goes really well with steak,” says bartender Natalie Johnson. “It’s kind of one of those things you want to have in a bar.” The bar recently sold a shot to a couple celebrating their 10th anniversary. The husband paid for dinner. The wife bought the husband a shot of Louis XIII.
$200 for 2-ounce pour
Danny Versfelt, bar manager, says he has seen a gradual increase in the price of Louis over the years. But he still keeps purchasing it for the bar. There are multiple uses for Louis XIII, other than just drinking it. “My son was one of the three wise men in the class play. He got to carry a gold bottle of Cointreau up,” Versfelt says. “But I happen to have an empty bottle of Louis, and I really wanted him to bring that up. I thought it’d be more appropriate to have a Louis bottle. We’d donate it to the school, of course.”
Palomino Restaurant Rotisseria Bar at the Crescent
$120 for 1-ounce pour
Bartender Dennis Hayslip says the bar generally goes through three-quarters of a bottle of Louis XIII in seven months. He says he has noticed there are two main categories of people who purchase the cognac: businesspeople who put it on an expense account or those celebrating. “You may also get the random person who’s in and they’re intrigued by it and have heard of it, so they’ll purchase it,” he says.
Dragonfly at Hotel Zaza
$100 for a 1-ounce pour
Part of the allure of Louis XIII is being the person to buy the last few shots. Why? Because tradition dictates that you’ll then get the bottle, worth about $500. “A few guys from Dallas all roam around to different bars to get the last shots,” says Andrew Ballenger, head bartender. “When the bottle gets low, they’ll start coming in.” Just recently, a couple noticed the bottle was low. They spent $500 to get the last few shots and the bottle. It’s the fourth in their collection.