A new era may be stirring in Japan — or is that shaking? Especially if you're mad about massively expensive martinis.
Two decades after the country's "bubble economy", when the ostentatiously wealthy sprinkled gold on their food and drank pink Dom Perignon champagne by the magnum, the glass is filling again in Japan with a cocktail on rare ice.
The "diamond-tini", an adult beverage with a hint of lime and chilled Belvedere vodka over a 1.06-carat stone, is topping the Ritz-Carlton beverage menu at a cool 1.8 million yen, or about $15,000.
That's certainly an incentive not to binge drink.
That hefty price includes drink preparations tableside, a serenade of "Diamonds are Forever" as a cut stone slides to the martini glass bottom, and later a ring mounting by a local jeweler.
"It's a timeless drink and diamonds are a girl's best friend, so you combine both this time of year in Japan when [marriage] proposals are rampant," says hotel manager Bernard Viola.
The Ritz recently opened in the $3.1-billion Tokyo Midtown development in the trendy Roppongi district with rooms in the 54-story tower starting at $580 a night.
"There is a market for everything you create. Today it is all about luxury," says Viola, who expects to eventually sell three diamond-tinis a month, though so far there have been no orders.
Maybe they should throw in unlimited free olives or something.
- Talk about really needing a bathroom fast: A former auto racer and inventor has created a 70 mph, jet-propelled toilet.
Paul Stender, 43, made the "Port-O-Jet" out of an old portable toilet and a 1,000-horsepower Boeing turbine engine bolted on to a go-kart chassis, according to the Ananova Web portal.
Two tiny holes in the door let him guide the toilet's trajectory — as a 30-foot fireball roars out the backside.
Stender performs with the Port-O-Jet to thrill crowds at racetracks and air shows near his home in Indiana.
We think it would great if he could modify the jet to run on methane gas. Then all the driver would have to do is eat a big bowl of chili, and he's good to go.
- A 70-year-old slab of blackened pork went on display in a downtown Raleigh, N.C. restaurant this week in a curious ritual that began in 1937.
The Mecca Restaurant put the rock-hard country ham in its window Tuesday with a sign saying the 25-pound slab of meat would be displayed for only one day, "for security reasons."
"It's an ugly thing, isn't it?" said Paul Dombalis, the restaurant's third-generation owner. "It's just as ugly as it ever was."
Dombalis' grandfather bought the ham from a farmer who was passing through Raleigh in 1937, then placed it in the window. It's unclear exactly why, though Mecca became known as "that restaurant with the ham in the window."
"I can't tell you how many people come in and say, 'It's so good to find one thing that hasn't changed,'" said Floye Dombalis, 80, as she rang up customers on an antique cash register.
This nostalgia apparently also coincides with the rich tradition of this restaurant's clientele completely lacking a gag reflex.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.