A news article mentioned a hotel bar in New York whose drink menu includes a US$10,000 drink called “Martini on the Rock.” That works out to about $5 for the gin, vermouth, and olives—and $9,995 for the loose diamond sitting at the bottom of the glass. Patrons must order the drink three days in advance, and meet with a jeweler to pick out the perfect stone. The first person to order this drink paid a bit extra—$13,000—and instead of a loose stone, selected a 1.85-carat diamond engagement ring. (His girlfriend said yes.) Perhaps unknown to the hotel’s proprietors, this extravagant beverage has a fascinating historical precedent.
Et Tu, Cleo?
The year was 41 B.C. Mark Antony, one of the rulers of Rome, summoned Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII for an audience at Tarsus (in present-day Turkey). Antony ostensibly wanted Cleopatra to answer charges that she had aided Cassius, who had conspired with Brutus to assassinate Julius Caesar. But most people believe the real reason for the meeting was that Antony wanted Egyptian aid for an upcoming military campaign, and besides, he had the hots for Cleopatra. [Article Continues…]