This Disney World Restaurant Serves A $138 Cocktail

At the California Grill in Disney's Contemporary Resort, the signature cocktail is fit for royalty.

As much as its known for magic castles and roller coasters, Walt Disney World has a stealth epicurean side. For every 100 people Instagramming about Mickey pretzels (or pickle shakes, or popcorn buckets, or cookies that promise a two-hour wait), there's at least one certifiable theme park gourmand who can't stop raving about, say, the truffle poutine at Le Cellier (the steakhouse hidden under the chateau in EPCOT's Canada Pavilion), or the wildly upscale frozen cocktails at Wine Bar George in Disney Springs.

But some of the food and drink offerings at Disney World are pure excess, designed to be momentous and barely justifiable. Case in point: the $138 cocktail at California Grill.

Perched on the top floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort, California Grill is a rarified destination for a few reasons. First, from its proximity to Magic Kingdom and its location within the hotel, the restaurant offers an unparalleled view of the nightly fireworks that illuminate the park. The lights are even lowered and the soundtrack from the fireworks display is piped into the dining room, so it's almost like you're there—but instead of standing among thousands of bedraggled park guests at the end of a long day, you're sitting in a cozy booth sipping a glass of wine.

Second, the food at California Grill is exceptional. The three-course prix fixe menu ($89) changes seasonally, offering a steak-and-seafood-heavy "California fusion" menu with options that are gourmet, but not intimidating to those who don't often splurge on that kind of dining experience.

Guests rightly rave about the Braised Beef Short Rib Wontons, with a doenjang-miso-cola-onion sauce and crispy garlic-chili oil, and the Blue Crab California Roll with yuzu mayonnaise and sesame elevates the most basic sushi into something well worth savoring. Some of my personal favorites have been the Black Truffle Pizza with leek fondue and shaved black truffles, drizzled with spicy honey; and an Oak-Fired Filet of Beef with roasted root vegetables and cabernet jus.

I'm not going to sugar coat it: the whole thing is a splurge. But then there's the splurgiest item of all: the California Grill Signature Cocktail.

"This Ultra-Premium Cocktail pairing partners a traditional Champagne Cocktail with Rémy Martin Louis XIII, which takes four generations of Cellar Masters to create," the menu reads. The cost: $138. For one drink.

On previous visits to California Grill, my better sense prevailed. But on my most recent visit, I was powerless. It had been a magical day! The fireworks were happening! I was dining with a friend who loves a good extravagance and was also open to trying it! Girl math is one thing, but girl Disney math is quite another. That night, it won.

From the menu description, I was expecting a cocktail with the Louis XIII blended in. This cognac is among the world's best, retailing for upwards of $4,000 a bottle. (Last year, Disneyland sold pours in waffle cones for $185.)

What came to the table was a silver tray with two champagne cocktails on it, two elegant crystal snifters, and in the center, the glittering bottle of Louis XIII, its fleur-de-lis regally raised above. I very much did not envy the manager who had to carry the tray over.

The cocktails were made in the classic style: a sugar cube dropped into a champagne flute, then topped with a dash of angostura bitters and a splash of cognac, and finished with a pour of Veuve Cliquot. The Louis came separately, poured tableside into the snifters. The idea, the manager explained, was to let the bubbles and the crisp notes of the cocktail unlock the finer notes of the cognac, namely dried orange peel, honey, and fig, with some hints of spice. They really did make sense together, especially since cognac is made from distilled white wine.

How did the Louis taste? Expensive, mostly. I picked up on the promised fruit and spice notes of the cognac, but as something to sip on, I simply liked the champagne cocktail better. Much more suited to my tastes. And to my budget.