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Just an Item on the Menu; the $10,000
 Martini on the Rock
By Jose Martinez, Daily News, New York
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Dec. 1, 2004 - At $10,000, this cocktail is bound to leave you feeling more shaken than stirred.

The Martini on the Rock is the newest addition to the menu at the Algonquin Hotel. It comes with a single piece of ice -- a diamond from the in-house jeweler.

"For now, it's just an item on the menu -- unless 'she' can convince 'him,' " said Anthony Melchiorri, the hotel's general manager.

Not a single glass has been sold, but hotel officials hope the glittering gimmick catches the eye of a would-be bride or groom. "This is a great lobby, where you can hang out and talk," Melchiorri said. "Or where you can ask someone to marry you."

The Algonquin once drew literary notables such as Dorothy Parker, whose witticisms included: "I love a martini -- but two at the most. Three, I'm under the table; four, I'm under the host."

"The martini is our trademark," Melchiorri said.

The only catch for big spenders is that the drink order -- and diamond purchase -- need to be lined up three days in advance with Bader & Garrin, the hotel's jeweler.

The drink is the city's latest overpriced menu item, joining such notables as the $1,000 frittata at Norma's in Le Parker Meridien hotel, the $71 hamburger at the Old Homestead and the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity 3. The martini's actual price depends on the size and cut of the rock, but its liquid ingredients -- a mix of Belvedere vodka and Martini & Rossi vermouth -- remain as classic as ever.

"We were laughing," said businessman Travis Hawton, 33, of Minneapolis, "about how someone will probably try to sneak one in on an expense account."

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