Daily Pampering: $18,000 diamond martini at The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

There are some things in life you simply never think you’ll see: Planes with back porches, hologram hotel rooms, gold-wrapped sushi, just to name of few. Yet, these things do exist. So, you set your expectations higher and expect that nothing will quite live up to the dreams you’ve conjured in your land of luxury lifestyle. And then, the Ritz-Carlton hands you a diamond martini, and you think you might have just found nirvana.

The only thing better than a good, dry martini (shaken, not stirred) is a good, dry martini with a diamond at the bottom. Enter: The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo’s “Diamonds Are Forever” martini. The drink was designed as a unique way for men to propose to their girlfriend, but who says you need a man to drink a diamond martini? Certainly not me.

Head straight to the 45th floor of the Tokyo hotel and tell the bartender at The Lobby Lounge and Bar that you’d like the jeweled drink. Then, hand over ¥1,800,000 yen (approximately US $18,000) and sip slowly – you don’t want to swallow that priceless stone sitting at the bottom of your martini glass.

The “Diamonds Are Forever” martini is made with chilled Grey Goose vodka with a lime twist and poured over a flawless one-carat diamond. If the diamond doesn’t impress, I’m told the views from the 53rd floor of this Tokyo hotel are worthy of an $18,000 rendezvous.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

19 perfect dive bars

We need dive bars more than we care to admit. They are the counterweight to a world overflowing with upscale lounges and designer “mixologist” cocktails, a way to keep it simple, hang out with friends old and new and tip back our favorite beverage. Gadling is a big fan of dive bars too. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 19 of our favorites. Where’s your favorite dive bar? Leave us a tip in the comments.

Crystal Cafe – Raton, New Mexico
The most remarkable thing about Crystal Cafe is the light up dance floor. That and the decor make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, and that a disco maniac in a polyester suit will walk through the door at any moment. The bar is entirely retro, but not because they’re trying — the owners just haven’t changed anything since when the small town its located in was more happening.

Norma’s (a.k.a. the Domino Club) – St. Croix, USVI
Norma’s
is famous for two reasons: beer drinking pigs and a local brew called Mama Wanna. Animal rights concerns resulted in the pigs getting switched to non-alcoholic beer, but the patrons aren’t so restricted. Mama Wanna is some kind of wonderful spiced rum drink, and the local proprietress of this island hut tucked away in the jungle hasn’t even been tempted to sell the recipe yet. It packs quite a kick, so the locals use Elephant beer as a chaser.

Madam’s Organ Blues Bar – Washington, DC

With a slogan like, “Where the beautiful people go to get ugly,” how could you not love Madam’s Organ Blues Bar? Despite the popularity this bar enjoys, they haven’t managed to clean it up too much. There’s live music most nights, and more old couches upstairs than a used furniture store. After the bar closes, the local tradition is to grab a giant slice of pizza from one of the nearby all-night sliceries.Salty Dawg Saloon – Homer, Alaska
The buoys strung up on the outside of Salty Dawg Saloon, found inside a plain log and thatch cabin, hardly scream party time, but the partiers on the inside sure as heck do. The walls have thousands of dollar bills stapled to them, each one uniquely decorated by the patron who posted it. In true Alaska dive style, the floors are covered in sawdust. If you’re feeling frisky, you could even order a Salty Dog. The bar isn’t named for the drink, but they do serve them.

Neptune’s Net – Malibu, California
Despite this bar’s location in upscale Malibu, Neptune’s Net is a bit of a dive. You’ve got to fight (sometimes literally) for a table, it’s crowded with bikers, and the restrooms are of the portable variety. But it’s got some amazing fried seafood and beers a plenty. Plus, the outside tables have gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.

Crossroads Bar & Grill – South Royalton, Vermont
It’s dark, it’s dank, and it’s darling. Crossroads is the perfect dive bar where you could wile away a night, or an entire winter, given the local weather patterns. Set in the small and idyllic town of South Royalton, this bar is a meeting place for long time locals and cerebral students from the nearby Vermont Law School. There’s even a collection of offensive bumper stickers posted behind the bar, if you forget your reading material.

Gentleman Jim’s – Gaithersburg, Maryland
It’s not often you get a dive bar with two floors of drinking, but they’ve managed to make it happen in this industrial complex tavern. Upstairs is a small, windowless bar with a bit of a Cheers feel, since the variety of the patrons tends to be limited. Downstairs is the restaurant area with a service bar open to the public. What makes this place worth mentioning is the pizza — square, with sweet tomato sauce and a swiss cheese blend. Try it on a Monday or Tuesday for half price, and the happy hours are competitive as well.

The Alley Cantina – Taos, New Mexico
If it weren’t for the local crowd, a ratty old games collection, and $2.50 margaritas every day from 5 to 7, the Alley Cantina might not have even qualified as a dive. But thanks to the shuffleboard, crooked pool table, and some old french game where you’ve got to flick checkers around with your thumb, this is the perfect place to hang out and have a beer, or five. They’ve even got food, if you’re into fried.

The Broken Spoke – Austin, Texas

The Broken Spoke has become legendary, perhaps regrettably to its loyal local clientele. It’s claim to fame is its long affair with country music, with legends like Willie Nelson having made regular appearances through the years. It’s got a country dance hall vibe, and they even offer blue plate special lunches to stick with the theme. Not a bad place to have a couple beers and get rowdy.

Norton Rats – Cusco, Peru
You might not guess that you could find a biker bar in a South American town at an elevation of 11,000 feet but, lo and behold, you can. There is simply no explanation for Norton Rats other than divine providence. They offer a wide selection of beer, and a view of the main plaza in Cusco from the narrow balconies. Flags from a hundred countries are nailed to the ceiling, giving you something to look at when your drinks get to you early due to the altitude. Even if the place has a bit of a divey vibe, its a welcome respite for travelers who have made it this far into the wild.

— The above was written by Writing Kimberly, Seed contributor.



Malachy’s – New York, New York
Malachy’s might be the most miserable place on Earth. Horrendous lighting, depressed staff, despondent clientele and a perfect Guinness every time. The fat, juicy 1/2 lb. burger is real good too. Somehow, the cook has been spared.

Nolan’s – Long Beach, New York
A free standing shack made of old cedar, Nolan’s looks like even the faintest ocean breeze will knock it over. Trashed motocycles and cars litter the adjacent lot. Every lifer in the place is crusty and pissed off. Coldest bottle of Bud ever served. Step out into the sun, across the street and stumble to the beach.

The Goat Hill Tavern – Costa Mesa, California
The Goat Hill Tavern, an out-of-the-way hole in Los Angeles Southern California, might be the region’s greatest anti-attraction. Hundreds of tap beers, cramped quarters, stale smoke and that God awful dive bar smell. Top it all off with the wannabe screenwriter next to you stirring his vodka with his finger while plotting his next “murder the movie exec” thriller at one in the afternoon. Lights, Camera, Misery!

PJ’s Pub – Baltimore, Maryland
Is PJ’s Pub the best daytime watering hole in history? Homemade Bloody Mary’s and baskets spicy Old Bay dusted steamed shrimp at noon chase away any hangover. Hours pass effortlessly until the Johns Hopkins engineering geeks and Lacrosse studs start to file in for their nightly revelry. Guys, if you’re lucky, maybe a girl will even show up.

Mission Hill Saloon – San Francisco, California
Mission Hill is the “Cheers” of dive bars. Dark, dingy and depressingly plain – but the misery stops there. Ice, ice cold beers served by good people. Excellent jukebox and locals that have no problem making you feel like a local.

The Cat’s Eye Pub – Baltimore, Maryland
Ah, the Cat’s Eye Pub. You can’t move, you can’t breathe. Old salts stare you down and threaten with daggers. Old cougars troll for new meat. Killer blues bands play way too loud, right in your ear. The lost leg of a dead sea captain hangs above the men’s urinal. Fun!

The Bronx Bar – Detroit, Michigan
The Bronx Bar is in the “happening” part of town, whatever that means. Great tunes, cold beers. Ultimately, it just looks real cool and divey from the outside. Pure American depression. Rejoice!

Catacombs Bar – Boulder, Colorado

Catacombs Bar is huge hole in the ground – literally. On a weeknight, it feels like “Land of the Lost.” Spacious and desolate, an alcoholic paleontologist’s dream. Tunes echo from the juke, drinks are served by pretentious, cruncher wannabes who are too cool for school. “Is there anybody out there?”

McSorley’s – New York, New York
Step down off street level and into history at McSorley’s. The oldest operating saloon in New York. Dingy, quiet – reverent even. Don’t go for the music, the TV, the pool table. Go there to drink, lament and repent. That’s what you do in a dive bar.

— The above was written by Drew Moss, Seed contributor.

Related:
* The 24 greatest cities in the world for drinking beer
* 15 more great cities for drinking beer
* The 20 greatest cities in the world for foodies
* The 25 greatest cities in the world for drinking wine

Save big at Atlantis resort

We’re still not all that far into spring … which means the stinging cold of winter isn’t yet a distant memory. If you need a brief break from the places you saw covered in snow not too long ago, check out the latest deal from the Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort. You can pick up a nightly rate of $399 until May 26, 2010, if you spend four nights there. After that, a $499 a night reservation is available until June 20, 2010.

The $650/night value includes plenty of extras, including two dolphin interactions at the resort’s 14-acre dolphin interaction and education center, a round of golf at the Ocean Club Golf Course and one-night access to Aura. Enjoy two signature margaritas at Bobby Flay‘s Mesa Grill and two sunset martinis at Jean Georges‘ Dune … and munch and sip on a sushi and sake mini-tasting for two at Nobu.

Yeah, there are worse ways to put the winter behind.

Make yourself a Hiltini in the Bahamas

The British Colonial Hilton in Nassau is looking for help celebrating both its 10th anniversary and a multi-million dollar renovation. So, every Thursday night through February 25, 2010, from 8 PM to 9 PM, show up to at the Bullion Bar for a Hiltini Night experience. The bartenders are ready to create top-shelf cocktails from the traditional to the unique and will even offer classes about martini-making to those who express some interest. And, each Hiltini night will include a martini-making contest, where guests can compare their skills in the pursuit of bragging-rights riches.

If you miss the Hiltini nights, don’t sweat it. The British Colonial Hilton will have something new every Thursday night this year at the Bullion Bar.

Photo of the Day (1-21-09)

Titled “Afternoon Snack,” this photo by Patrick Powers is a modern day still-life. What a study of light, colors and shapes that capture the mood of a Sunday afternoon in California. The photo was taken at the Ritz-Carlton. Wouldn’t Rembrandt have loved the subtle light on the people in the background and the glint and shimmers of the glass?

If you have an image that would make an art master proud, send it our way at Gadling Flickr photo pool. It could be picked for a Photo of the Day.