TOKYO (Reuters) - A new era may be stirring in Japan — or is that shaking?
Two decades after the “bubble economy”, when the ostentatiously wealthy sprinkled gold on food and drank pink Dom Perignon champagne by the magnum, the glass is filling again in Japan with a Martini on rare ice.
The “diamond-tini”, a cocktail 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 ($15,000).
That 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 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-storey tower starting at 70,000 yen ($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.
Even in the post-Bubble era when economic times were tough, Japanese still purchased about 40 percent of global luxury goods and the nation was the world’s No. 2 in diamond jewellery sales.
But for those on a budget, a more modest proposal may be the Ritz’s 13,000 yen ($108) “wagyu” beef hamburger, more than twice as expensive as the hotel’s main burger and over 40 times as pricey as a McDonald’s staple set.
Viola says what began as a lark has become a profit-centre.
“We got caught in our own game, because we sell more wagyu burgers than (regular) burgers.”