That $100 margarita they've come up with at Red O is a bargain — really.

Order a shot of just one of its components, Gran Patrón Burdeos añejo tequila, and you'll pay $75. Toss in another $25, and you'll get a whopping 16-ounce glass rimmed with gold — genuine edible gold dust mixed with kosher salt–and filled with pricey stuff.

Think you'd save by buying the bottles and mixing the drink yourself? No way. You'd be out at least $3,000.

Red O's margarita; Credit: Michael Clifford Photography

Red O's margarita; Credit: Michael Clifford Photography

The half ounce of Louis XIII Cognac floated on top comes from a bottle that's $2,000 or more. You'd shell out a few hundred for two more high-end extra añejo tequilas, Partida Elegante and Herradura Selección Suprema, then dip way into your deep pockets for limited edition Grand Marnier Cent Cinquantenaire.

You still couldn't make the drink, because there's a lot more involved. See those red dots drifting inside the glass? That's molecular caviar made from fresh blood orange juice mixed with Prunier Liqueur d'Orange. The ice cubes are frozen lime sorbet created for the margarita by pastry chef Joanne Ponvanit and made fresh daily. That's in addition to lime juice squeezed in at the last minute — nothing is premixed — and organic agave syrup.

“It's a big, impressive cocktail,”says bartender Steve Calabro. “I want people to understand that they are getting more than they are paying for.”

Last year, Calabro proposed what he thought was a costly margarita — $35 to $40 — for Cinco de Mayo. It sold so well that the management asked for a $100 margarita. “Are you kidding me?” gasped Calabro, then set to work. (Check him out at the Bartending Bootcamp on YouTube).

The three tequilas weren't random choices. One (Gran Patrón Burdeos) is sweet, another (the Partida) is oaky, and the Herradura is a combination. “They all work with each other,” says Calabro. An ounce of each goes into the drink, along with 1 1/2 ounces of other alcohol.

Introduced New Year's Eve (they sold three), the $100 margarita is served only on Friday and Saturday nights. Get there this weekend and you can beat out Rick Bayless, Red O's food consultant, who'll get his first taste when he arrives next week.

Calabro mixes each drink personally and sends it forth on a silver tray with the caviar in a white ceramic spoon on the side. Soon it will have its own special goblet.

“I call it the 1 % margarita. It's a luxury,” he says.

Read more from Barbara Hansen at,, @food and wine gal and Facebook.

LA Weekly