$1,893 for soup? Drake Oak Brook has a bowl waiting for you

Drake Oak Brook’s Colonial Room offers something unique for experience-seeking diners. But be warned. This is a very expensive soup.

For a limited time, the iconic hotel is offering a luxuriously upgraded version of its Bookbinder’s soup, preparing it with one of the world’s most prestigious spirits, Louis XIII cognac, along with other sumptuous flourishes.

The price: $1,893. Leavened soup!

Drake Oak Brook’s Bookbinder Soup, $1,893, is made with Louis XIII cognac and freshly imported red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico, then topped with caviar and gold flakes.
Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.com

The extravagant version of the soup goes beyond simply substituting Rémy Martin Louis XIII cognac in place of traditional dry sherry. The dish is served with red snapper freshly imported from the Gulf of Mexico each time the soup is ordered. It is garnished with gold flakes and Ossetra caviar.

Executive chef Ezequiel Dominguez of Drake Oak Brook fillets fresh red snapper arriving from the Gulf of Mexico, specifically for a serving of the $1,893 Bookbinder soup.
Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.com

“Our brand is about looking for ways to elevate experiences and pair them with opulent brands,” said Jeffrey Mabilangan, assistant general manager of The Drake Oak Brook. “We consider the Drake to be an iconic hotel, so what more iconic liquor to accompany an essentially iconic soup than Louie XIII?”

The experience includes a glass of premium alcohol, as well as a trip behind the scenes of the kitchen for a personalized cooking lesson from Executive Chef Ezequiel Dominguez on how to make the soup.

Executive chef Ezequiel Dominguez of Drake Oak Brook fires a pan with fresh red snapper while preparing an $1,893 version of their classic Bookbinder soup.
Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.com

The specific price of $1,893 comes from the date of the soup’s original recipe, created by Samuel Bookbinder in 1893 in Philadelphia.

The original version of seafood bisque featured snapping turtle, but was adapted to use red snapper when The Drake in downtown Chicago adopted the recipe in the 1930s.

They’ve been serving it in Oak Brook since the hotel opened in 1962, and it’s been a favorite of past guests including Frank Sinatra and (now) King Charles. The regular version of the soup will cost you $10.

The experience will be available on demand for a limited time and must be ordered two weeks in advance to arrange for the fresh fish and cooking demonstration. Reservations can be made online.

Executive chef Ezequiel Dominguez of Drake Oak Brook puts the finishing touches on a special edition Bookbinder soup by pouring a half-ounce of Louis XIII cognac over it.
Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.com

“We wanted to do something fun and take something old and step it up, but we didn’t want to change the original composition of the soup because it’s iconic and people love it,” said the sales director Jill Hare.

Those who are only vaguely familiar with Louis XIII probably know it as the service you order at a fancy hotel bar on someone else’s expense account. Cognac is a blend of more than 1,200 different eaux-de-vie, or fruit brandies, each aged between 40 and 100 years.

Each decanter, no two of which are exactly the same, is handcrafted from Baccarat crystal and features a minimum 18-karat gold neck. The cork stopper incorporates a small NFC chip to allow owners to connect to the Société Louis XIII.

An ounce poured at the hotel bar costs $500, Hare said.

Unsurprisingly, Chef Dominguez, who has worked at the hotel for 13 years, says he has never cooked with such an expensive ingredient.

“It’s stressful,” he said. Several people carefully packed it in his display case after he finished using it.

Hare said she knows paying $1,893 for a bowl of soup isn’t for everyone, but she thinks those who can afford it will appreciate the uniqueness of the opportunity.

“We think it’s a great way for people to have such a different experience, and that’s what people are looking for now,” she said. “Experiences are at the forefront.”

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