When The Benjamin bill comes, be prepared to lay out the Benjamins
Looking for something more reasonable? A bottled Bud Light runs $8, a glass of milk $6
To drink at Donald Trump’s DC hotel lobby bar, The Benjamin, having the President-elect’s wallet would be helpful.
The bar at Trump International Hotel has recently increased its signature cocktail prices – a lot. The least expensive drink, the bourbon-based “Romanesque Revival,” costs $24, while the bar’s namesake cocktail, comprised of rye, vodka, raw Kumamoto oysters and Royal Ossetra caviar, goes for $100.
A previous version of the bar menu, tweeted in September, shows “Romanesque Revival” at $20, and other cocktails from $16 to $21 – hardly a bargain, but certainly more affordable.
Looking for something more reasonable? A bottled Bud Light runs $8, a glass of milk $6.
A representative for Trump International Hotel did not immediately respond to request for comment on the new prices.
The price hike was first reported by Washingtonian, which also notes it’s the second time the bar has raised its prices since its soft open in September.
But The Benjamin is crafting more than luxury cocktails – it caters a full experience for visitors, locals and hotel guests and curious tourists alike. Ladies in fur coats and businessmen sip in the palatial lobby of the newly-renovated Old Post Office building, decked with chandeliers, marble floors, a display of televisions tuned to ESPN, Bloomberg and Fox News, an impressive collection of crystal decanters lining the walls, and contemporary jams pumping through the Bose sound system.
Servers don white gloves to facilitate tastings of wine “by the crystal spoon,” poured out in one-ounce portions, and sipped through the handle, per Hungarian tradition. The least expensive option runs $15 for the ounce.
For a more festive evening, bartenders will roll up a cart of champagne and teach guests to saber the lid with a large knife. Once appropriately taught how to make a clean cut, and ensuring no one is within a particular radius, a loud bell is rung to draw attention to the knife-holder. Up slides the knife, pop goes the lid, and the whole bar cheers. The cheapest champagne option is $159, but sabering is free, and guests can keep the glass top.
Not surprisingly, there are no happy hour drink specials. But early birds can get half off “grilled country bread” appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m.
Pricing and vacancy rates for the hotel, which Trump officially opened less than two weeks before the election, indicated the hotel may have initially been slow to book. In mid-October, a CNNMoney report found rooms at $505 a night, well pricier than comparable competitors. However, those numbers aren’t always a perfect indicator, and Mickael Damelincourt, the property’s managing director, said it was the most successful opening he’s seen in 10 years working for Trump hotels.
Since the grand opening and Trump’s November win, the hotel’s profile has been raised considerably, with new questions as to how the new administration will handle potential conflicts of interest if foreign leaders stay at the hotel as a way of ingratiating themselves with the highest levels of the American government.
But on a recent weeknight, the bustling lobby bar showed no signs of slowing. When The Benjamin bill comes, be prepared to lay out the Benjamins.