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MARTINI, STRAIGHT UP
The Classic American Cocktail
Bernard DeVoto called it the "supreme American gift to world culture," and H. L. Mencken said that it was "the only
American invention as perfect as a sonnet." FDR served a Martini to Stalin at the Teheran Conference in 1943 and asked
him how he liked it. "Well, all right," the Russian said, "but it is cold on the stomach." Stalin's successor was served a
stronger Martini than the rather bland sort that FDR mixed. Khrushchev called it "the U.S.A.'s most lethal weapon."
The Martini is the premier American cocktail. It is a permanent fixture of American life, of the American imagination, of
America's image in the rest of the world. But its consumption, like that of other commodities, is cyclical. At the time of the
first edition of this book (1981), the Martini was in eclipse. As I did the research for this revised edition, I saw the Martini
everywhere--in movie advertisements, on the jewel boxes of CDs, in magazines. Strolling around SoHo on a summer
evening, I saw Martinis on every bar. How did I know it was the Martini? The glass told me.
This already much-noticed "return of the Martini" prompts three questions. Where did it return from? In what form has it
returned? Where did the Martini come from in the first place?
The last question first: It was invented in United States of the 1870s and came into its own in the Gilded Age. Let's imagine
a drink consisting of two main ingredients, gin and vermouth, served chilled and with a garnish--say, an olive--in a
stemmed glass. Until the middle of the twentieth century or beyond, this was the Martini. For some, it still is. Well on in
life, probably in the 1920s, this drink came to be served more or less exclusively in a particular glass, the bowl of which had
straight edges. The glass with the triangular profile became part of the drink's identity. This glass and the name "Martini"
have never parted company.
Like many American institutions, the Martini did not easily survive the 1960s. The following decade brought concerns of
health into the sphere of drinking. Light beer, mineral water, and white wine replaced cocktails. The Martini, such as it was,
was served on the rocks, and vodka was more likely than gin to be its backbone. The change to vodka had started in the
early 1950s. The glass was no longer the stemmed one but an Old Fashioned glass. This change of vessel left a trace in the
American language. To order the earlier cocktail--that is, chilled, in a stemmed glass, whether with gin or with vodka--one
used a retronym: "straight-up Martini" or Martini "straight up." The expression was also shortened to "Martini up."
So the drink itself changed, and it was drunk in a different glass. But the Martini's image remained intact. It was still, in the
world's eyes, the premier American cocktail, and it still meant everything it had meant earlier in the United States. Much of
this book is devoted to an analysis and description of what it meant and means. But the slippage between the drink itself
and its image is what made possible the return of the Martini.
Its return in the 1990s is the return of the image. Only a few diehards still drink the old straight-up gin Martini, which
Robert Donohoe of Athens, Ohio, calls the American Standard Dry Martini, after the one prescribed in a brochure of the
American Standards Association in 1966 (see "Historical Background of the Ambiguities"). Donohoe organized the
American Standard Dry Martini Club in the winter of 1990-91 and issued a newsletter, "The Martini Hotline," for seven
years. The very first number struck an elegiac note: "Right now it's tough to find a stouthearted drinker of the ASDM
cocktail. I mean, it's getting lonesome out there. I hope those of us who are left can continue to enjoy the ASDM, at least in
a home setting, but, as we fade out of the picture, who will take our place?"
But some as yet unformulated law seems to say that as the power of the thing diminishes, the power of its image increases.
The return of the Martini has seen its image unfold energetically in several dimensions. Most obviously, the Martini
becomes a subject of reflection and discourse, as in this book, and in other writings--William Grimes's chapter on the
Martini in his cultural history of the cocktail (1993); Barnaby Conrad's The Martini (1995); Max Rudin's essay, "'There Is
Something about a Martini,'" in American Heritage (1997). The Martini is for all of us not just a drink, perhaps not even a
drink at all, but an intriguing aspect of American history and culture.
As for the return of the Martini in the social life of the 1990s, the glass has done the work. The traditional glass with v-shaped profile is everywhere. A plastic version is available. It is depicted in garish colors on cocktail napkins sol
d by Pier 1
Imports, with the word "Martini" printed on two of the margins. One can purchase the familiar profile in the form of a
refrigerator magnet, or a neon sign for the home bar. One can even select a typeface based on the Martini glass. In
response to the new popularity of the form, Lalique introduced a Martini glass in the fall of 1997 (Plate 1). Its traditionality
extends even to its packaging in sets of two, which implies what I discuss, in Ambiguity 2, as the Martini-of-the-relationship and the conjugal Martini.
But what will be served in this handsome glass? Not the straight-up gin or vodka Martini. Bars all across the land have
Martini menus offering concoctions that bear no resemblance to the traditional drink. The Dragon Lounge in Corpus
Christi, Texas, offers a dozen "specialty Martinis." These include April's Martini (Godiva chocolate liqueur, Frangelico, and
an orange twist), the Cosmopolitan (Absolut Vodka, Cointreau, orange juice, and a splash of cranberry juice), and the Blue
Skyy (Skyy Vodka, blue curaçao, and an orange twist). But why limit the contents to drink? The traditional glass is now
also used to serve food. Writing in the New York Times, Florence Fabricant offers her readers recipes for "Salmon Tartar
'Martini'" and "Ecuadorean Ceviche 'Martini.'" She observes, "In restaurants, the martini glass has become an all-purpose
item, like the soup plate."P>
The Martini--again, the glass and the name--has become an icon in the social rituals of young single persons. In a
movement sometimes called Cocktail Nation (in mockery of Woodstock Nation), they don tuxedos and sheath dresses, go
to bars decorated in the style of 1950s lounges and ballrooms, dance to swing music, and, when they are not dancing, listen
to old recordings of Dean Martin and Tony Bennett. The music of the bands performing for this taste is called "space age
bachelor pad music," or simply "lounge." The spokesman of the movement is Michael "the Millionaire" Cudahy, guitarist
of the band Combustible Edison. He has issued two manifestos of Cocktail Nation. The first began, "Calling all swingers,"
and ended with the injunction, "be fabulous" And the Martini? In an article on the lounge scene in Allure magazine, Judy
Bachrach told young women, "martinis are a must."
The drink appears in abundance in a central document of the movement, the film Swingers (1996), directed by Doug Liman.
It is about aspiring actors and actresses in Los Angeles and was in fact written by one of them, Jon Favreau. He also plays
the role of Mike, who is trying to recover from the breakup of a long relationship. His friends, principally Trent (Vince
Vaughn), take him to trendy nightspots where they hope that he'll score. In one of his failed attempts, Mike introduces
himself to a girl at a bar, Nikki (Brooke Langton), who has a Martini glass in front of her and is holding a toothpick on
which six or more olives are impaled. She is fast gobbling them up, and Mike instructs the bartender to bring her more. The
Martini and the olives are just props; the point of the scene is that Mike will fail again. But one still notices the use of the
Martini as a source of food. The American Standard Dry Martini must contain a single olive, and a traditionalist like
Donohoe does not eat it. It is there for looks. For the young Martini-drinker in the film, however, it is there to be eaten and
the drink is there for looks, as a purely visual icon of style.
Nikki and the others in Swingers are the potential readers of Anistatia R. Miller and Jared M. Brown's Shaken Not Stirred:
A Celebration of the Martini (1997). They might also be the students of Samara Farber (Kratz and Company) and Tricia Barroll (Carillon Importers, Ltd.) who conduct Martini
seminars in various cities in the United States. Miller and Brown's book is a didactic work that tells young people not only
how to mix Martinis but what (beyond olives) to eat with them, what clothes to wear, and what music to listen to. It even
provides instructions on how to do the tango. Robert Donohoe, who told the New York Times in 1996 that a vodka Martini
is not a Martini, would be alarmed to learn of the categories of Martini for which Miller and Brown offer recipes: Fruit
Martinis, Dessert Martinis, Spice and Cajun Martinis, Flavored-Vodka Martinis, and Martinis Built for Two (Passionate
Elixirs). These would appear to be the kinds of Martini drunk by the characters in the 1997-98 season of the television
series Melrose Place. An entertainment guide promised, "For the Swingers taste, the cast will swill martinis instead of
The Martini glass is not just an icon in the hands of the young. It has also returned in another way in the 1990s. Its
functionality becomes unimportant, and it becomes an artifact that can be redesigned on purely aesthetic principles. This
visual rethinking of the glass has taken place across a broad range of styles, from craft to deconstructive. As an example of
the former, I have included the Martini glasses of Michael Jaross, a Seattle glassblower (Plate 2). In response to my
question about the formal origin of these glasses, he replied, "Yes, I did have the classic martini 'cone' in mind." But, he
I'm more interested in pure form and color. Since I prefer to stick with functional designs, the "Martini" gave me a point of
departure to play with, but one which has a certain cachet for the buyer. Factory Martini glasses tend to be austere and thin,
while I added body to mine to support more visual elements and more color, separating the piece from factory work, giving
it more character, thus identifying it as "artist-made." Of course, I left the bowl transparent as most drinkers prefer to see
what they are imbibing.
Jaross gives a nod to functionality, but at the other end of the stylistic spectrum from him one finds "Martini" art objects
from which it would be impossible to drink a Martini.
Several of the nine glasses that have appeared since 1990 in the advertising campaign for Bombay Sapphire Gin come
under this description. Hilton McConnico's is a deconstructive reading of the traditional form (Plate 3), not a new design for
a Martini glass. It is a postmodern gesture that retains a certain ironic affection for its historical source. McConnico starts, I
think, from the impression of perfect balance, bowl on stem, that the traditional glass gives. He creates a new kind of
balance by elongating the stem and bending it into an asymmetrical curve that reaches high above the bowl. The stem now
makes contact with the base at the apex of the curve. At one end of the curve is the bowl, at the other a glass olive. The two
masses, bowl and olive, balance the curved stem on the base, but in such a way that the base is no longer directly under the
bowl. The olive is no longer a dead weight in the drink but has, in its new, inedible, purely formal treatment, a dynamic
role. It is no longer elevated by the glass but keeps the glass elevated. McConnico's glass seems to say, "The olive was only
there for looks; let's have it do something to earn its keep."
The base and the bowl are clear; the stem is blue. The color links McConnico's glass with the postmodern Martini of the
1990s. The blue Martini, achieved by the use of blue curaçao, is available not only at the Dragon Lounge in Corpus Christi
but all across the United States. "I love blue Martinis. It's like the fifties and the nineties all mixed up together," says a
woman in a New Yorker cartoon, articulating the new Martini's postmodern eclecticism. But Robert Donohoe's name for
his beloved American Standard Dry Martini is "hard white." The drink has had other similar names: "see through" and
"silver bullet." "We called them silver bullets," Jerry Della Femina, the CEO of a New York advertising agency, recalled
wistfully in 1989. The traditional look of the drink was white or clear or silver, but not blue. The new addition of color is
an ironic gesture that conforms exactly with Linda Hutcheon's definition of postmodern parody as "repetition with critical
distance that allows ironic signaling of difference at the very heart of similarity." "To parody," she says, "is not to destroy
the past; in fact to parody is both to enshrine the past and to question it."
The prominence of the olive in McConnico's glass is another kind of postmodern gesture. In the traditional drink, the olive
was a garnish that marked the drink as special, perhaps elevating the status of the gin, once a working-class drink, and
complementing the glassware and all the rest of the ritual. The olive was there not to be eaten but to make a visual effect
that would contribute to the larger picture, in which all the elements were saying the same thing. This redundancy of the
message comes to a stop when McConnico takes the olive out of the glass and assigns it a radically new role. By
intervening in this way, he calls attention to the very process of communication. He is putting on display not only a new,
deconstructive Martini glass but also, and perhaps even more emphatically, the very process by which the Martini has been
able to maintain its power as an image. At a practical level, Nikki was doing the same thing in the film Swingers when she
replaced the drink with the olives. The Martini sitting in front of her is retro, yes, but her olive-munching can be seen as
typical postmodern self-consciousness about symbolic communication.
Much of the history of the Martini in the 1990s, including many real persons named in this introduction and later in this
book, appears in Cold and Stiff, a 16 mm film directed by Peter Moody of San Francisco. He calls it a "docudramedy." It is
about Nick Martini, played by Paul Arensburg, who is also the co-writer. Nick is a bicycle messenger who falls in love with
a retro-dressing femme fatale. To pursue her, he becomes a 1940s detective. The conceit of the film is that his
transformation will succeed if he learns everything there is to know about the Martini. His education brings him into contact
with every source of expertise, even a skilled maker of neon Martini signs, Bill Concannon (Plate 4). Nick thus experiences
more completely than anyone else the return of the Martini.
But his real quest is for a lifestyle and thus for the image of the Martini, which is, as I have argued, the mode in which the
Martini has returned in the 1990s. The question now arises: What is the image? This question can be translated into another
one: What does the Martini communicate? The initial answer to this question, which occupies the first part of this book, is
this: The Martini sends seven Simple Messages. I call these messages simple because they are binary in form (the Martini is
x, it is not y, the opposite of x). They are:
Message 1: The Martini is American--it is not European, Asian, or African
Message 2: The Martini is urban and urbane--it is not rural or rustic
Message 3: The Martini is a high-status, not a low-status, drink
Message 4: The Martini is a man's, not a woman's, drink
Message 5: The Martini is optimistic, not pessimistic
Message 6: The Martini is the drink of adults, not of children
Message 7: The Martini belongs to the past, not to the present
Nick's Martini, the Martini of the swingers in the film of that name, or the Martini of Anistatia R. Miller and Jared M.
Brown, as a deliberately retro drink, is communicating Simple Message 7. Other accouterments of swinger style help to
specify the decades, the 1940s and the 1950s. This swinger's Martini is also picking out some of the other Simple Messages,
as well as yet another message, which I discuss in Part Two, namely, that the Martini is civilized. The suave retro Martini of
the 1990s is part of a reaction against the punk and grunge styles, now perceived as churlish.
As deployed by the swingers, the Martini expresses the lifestyle of a particular period in the past. In the longer view that I
try to take, the Martini does not belong to any decade in particular; rather, it has always, almost from it origin, been a drink
of the past. Different persons will attach it to different decades. Writing in 1985 as a spokesman of the older generation,
Donald G. Smith thought of the Martini as the drink of his father's generation. Jerry Della Femina remembered the Martini
as a drink of the 1960s. The Martini does not belong to any real historical period; it is simply of the past, timelessly of the
Further, all the Simple Messages of the Martini and also the Ambiguities discussed in Part Two belong to a synchronous
system. All the messages coexist. They are always all there and have always, so to speak, constituted the Martini's image.
As for Simple Message 7, the Martini would not, of course, have been a drink of the past in, say, the first decade of its
existence, but at some point it acquired this connotation, and this message has since remained unchanged, like all the others.
Not all of the messages will come into play for the same person at the same time. Everyone will activate his or her own
subset. For the swingers, the Martini expresses a lifestyle that belongs to an earlier time and is also "fabulous." For Della
Femina too it expresses a lifestyle, but the temporal setting is different and so is the social one: it is the corporate culture of
the three-Martini lunch, hardly a message that the swingers want to convey.
For the most part, use of the Martini's image is not explicitly ideological but seems innocent. The fact remains that the
binary oppositions on which the Simple Messages are based include a potentially disturbing hierarchical ranking. The first
term is good or superior, the second bad or inferior:
American European, Asian, African
urban, urbane rural, rustic
The net result for the Martini is politically incorrect, to say the least. Power and the self-interest of particular persons and
groups would seem to be written into the image of the Martini as a whole. I myself do not "have a problem with that," for
reasons to be explained later, but I do not want to seem to dismiss the problem if someone else finds it. And someone will.
Indeed, an enormous amount of work, in the humanities and social sciences, is preoccupied precisely with power and the
ways in which one group exerts authority over another. My approach will be to focus on the Martini as an image--or, in
semiotic terms, a sign or sign-vehicle--without going any more deeply into social contexts than a sketch of the sign requires.
"Sketch" is not sprezzatura. This book might seem long in relation to its subject--I have been asked again and again, "How
could you write a book on the Martini?"--but it could be much longer.
As for binary oppositions as such, no one has to believe in them any longer. The inferior terms can be shown to have left
traces in the superior ones. The oppositions can be broken down. I have not chosen to perform this operation on the Simple
Messages. Rather, in Part Two I take some larger messages, some larger claims of the drink, and show that they are
fundamentally ambiguous. The Martini is civilized, yes, as the swingers and many before them have intended, but it is also
uncivilized, the drink of loners, misfits, and alcoholics. It can be an individual, tough drink as well as a classic, sensitive
one. The Ambiguities of the Martini have, by the way, persisted into the 1990s. Besides the fabulous Martini of the
swingers there is also the sinister Martini of noir style, which I discuss in Ambiguity 1. From the Ambiguities it will be
even clearer that I do not subscribe to the obnoxious tendencies of the Simple Messages. The Martini provides 360 degrees
of opportunity for anyone who wishes to look into or through this drink. My point or points of observation will not, I hope,
be confused with my opinions about what I see.
The Simple Messages of the Martini
Message 1: The Martini is American--it is not European, Asian, or African
America, when he first visited it in 1958, impressed him . . . as a land of milk and martinis.
--George Watson, 1997
American presidents wielded the Martini in meetings with their Soviet counterparts in the 1940s and 1950s. The cocktail
also played a role in less serious diplomatic games. In May 1950 Secretary of State Dean Acheson went by way of Paris to a
meeting of NATO's Council of Ministers in London. He intended, as a courtesy, to hold informal talks with the French
foreign minister, Robert Shuman, in advance of the meeting in London. Shuman surprised him by outlining a plan to place
the entire French-German production of coal and steel under a joint authority, and he swore Acheson to secrecy. It therefore
happened that when Ernest Bevin, the English secretary of state for foreign affairs, learned of the plan, he believed that
Acheson had deliberately concealed it from him. Bevin flew into a rage, and only with great difficulty were the former good
relations between him and Acheson restored. But, says Acheson, "Bevin had his revenge." Shortly before Acheson's return
to the United States, Bevin invited him to drop by at the end of the day:
"I know you like a Martini," said Ernie, "and it's hard to get a good one in London." Something was definitely afoot. I
expressed guarded anticipation. At Bevin's signal, an ancient butler began operations at a sideboard. With growing disbelief
I watched him pour into a tumbler one-third gin, one-third Italian vermouth, and one-third water without ice, then bring the
tumbler to me on a tray.
Ernie was observing all this with what he thought was a Mona Lisa smile--but was more like the grin of a schoolboy up to
It was clear that I could never drink this horror if I tasted it. The only course was to take it in one gulp, or call "uncle." I
chose the former, and down it went.
"Have another," Ernie almost commanded.
"No, thank you," I said. "No one could make another just like that one."
In the 1990s, it was still difficult to get a good Martini in London. Christopher Fildes wrote in the Spectator, "The two
dollar martini has brushed against my lips like an angel's kiss. At teatime on Monday the magic figure flashed up on the
screen: £1 = $2. It was my signal to fly the Atlantic and lap up martinis while such a mad exchange rate lasted." The Queen
Mother was more efficient. Instead of going to the United States, she went to an American in England. R. W. Apple Jr.,
now Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, attended a dinner at Fleur Cowles's in London in the early 1980s
when he was on assignment there. Another of the guests was the Queen Mother. During cocktails a butler approached
Apple and said that the Queen Mother would like to see him:
"God, I thought", recalls Apple, "I have committed some giant gaff." She said, "Young man, I take it from your accent that
you are an American", and I said, "Guilty". "I presume, then, that you know how to make a dry Martini". I said, "Yes,
ma'am", and she said, "Go with this man to the kitchen and show him how. Eleven to one, please."
Any American, or at least any American important enough to be at the same dinner party with the Queen Mother, will know
how to make a dry Martini.
The American Martini-drinker, going to Europe, is in trouble. The impossibility of getting a dry Martini in any but the best
hotels in the largest European capitals is an oft-repeated traveler's tale. You asked for gin and vermouth and got them mixed
half and half, without ice, and the vermouth was red. You asked for gin and vermouth with ice, and you got one small lump
of ice floating on the surface of an obscure cocktail occupying the lower regions of a tall glass.
The essayist M. F. K. Fisher devoted a whole article to the problem of ordering a dry Martini in France. She held that the
Martini begins to deteriorate even while the traveler is still in transit: "The same rule applies by air and by sea: subtly and
irrevocably the cocktail becomes more wine and less liquor the nearer one gets to Europe." She explains that in France you
must ask for "Martini-gin," pronounced "martini-zheen," and then explain the proportions of gin and vermouth and the
extreme importance of ice.
European ignorance of the Martini, this time the Germans', is the basis of a joke set in the time of World War II:
At a certain point in the War, the Germans established a top-secret school in which they trained spies for work in England.
In this school, the future spies received not only the usual technical training but also a thorough education in all aspects of
English culture and, at the same time, had their English accents honed to perfection. Two of the finest products of this
school were chosen for a special mission and were set ashore from a U Boat on a sparsely populated coast of England. They
found a road and walked into a country town. Since it was now evening, they went into a pub for dinner, and at the bar they
ordered two Martinis. The bartender asked them, "Dry?" "Nein, nein," shouted one of the Germans, "Zwei!"
If the Martini is not European, still less is it Asian, even in the hands of Asians within the United States. Peter Anderson, a
columnist for the Boston Globe, said, "I do not order Martinis in Chinese restaurants." Writers can make dramatic capital
out of the unexpectedness of the Martini in an Asian setting. A Martini-drinking scene is laid in the out-of-the-way Indian
town of Amarpur in Pearl S. Buck's Mandala (1970). Jagat, an ex-rajah, is entertaining the American Miss Brooke Westley,
who has gone to Amarpur after meeting Jagat in New Delhi. The worldly and imperious Jagat handles the cocktail hour as
"Well, what shall we have?" Jagat inquired.
"Nothing for me, thank you, Jagat," the Maharani said.
"Oh, come now," he exclaimed. "A martini? Ranjit has learned to make them very well."
His voice was edged with impatience and she bowed her head and was silent.
"A martini for the Rani," Jagat ordered, "and--why not the same for all of us? Come, come--"
Ranjit's Martini has an exotic touch, in keeping with the locale:
[Brooke] took her glass . . . and sipped the martini. It was excellent, very dry, and with a flavor she did not know. Suddenly
she decided to cast aside her shyness and be herself.
"What is this flavor?" she inquired to Jagat. "It is like flowers, but not any that I know."
"It is a citrus that long ago was brought here from Greece by my grandfather," Jagat replied. "It bears a small bitter fruit, but
when pressed this fruit has an extraordinary essence, a flavor that is more like flowers than fruit. We make the essence
every year and bottle it--at least I suppose we do--it's more in Moti's [his wife's, the Maharani's] realm than mine, eh, my
Jagat's, or Ranjit's, Martini is thus suitably Oriental, and the Martini, unexpected in India ("Ranjit has learned to make them
very well"), turns out to be as exotic as the setting.
In W. S. Maugham's "The Fall of Edward Barnard" (1921), Bateman Hunter goes out to bring back his friend, Edward
Barnard, who has strangely overstayed his two-year job in Tahiti. It emerges that Edward has gone native and has adopted
an amoralist philosophy under the influence of an older American, Arnold Jackson, an ex-convict who has settled in Tahiti,
married a native, and had a daughter by her. To Bateman's horror, he finds that Edward's only ambition is to marry this
mulatto, raise coconuts, and contemplate the beauty of the islands. The truth begins to dawn on Bateman at dinner at
Jackson's, where he meets the beautiful mulatto, and gets a dose of Jackson's philosophy. Dinner is preceded by cocktails,
which are mixed, to Bateman's consternation, by the girl:
It did not put him at his ease to see this sylph-like thing take a shaker and with a practiced hand mix three cocktails.
"Let us have a kick in them, child," said Jackson.
She poured them out and smiling delightfully handed one to each of the men. Bateman flattered himself on his skill in the
subtle art of shaking cocktails and he was not a little astonished, on tasting this one, to find that it was excellent. Jackson
laughed proudly when he saw his guest's involuntary look of appreciation.
"Not bad, is it? I taught the child myself, and in the old days in Chicago I considered that there wasn't a bar-tender in the
city that could hold a candle to me. When I had nothing better to do in the penitentiary I used to amuse myself by thinking
out new cocktails, but when you come down to brass-tacks there's nothing to beat a dry Martini."
Bateman felt as though someone had given him a violent blow on the funny-bone and he was conscious that he turned red
and then white.
One could call this the Heart of Darkness Martini. Bateman's reaction is intense because of his extreme conventionality. He
does not expect a child, much less a female child, still less a female mulatto child, to be able to mix a Martini. But he is
reacting more immediately to Arnold Jackson's vaunt. The ex-convict, a Martini-man--the Martini is uncivilized and tough
(Ambiguities 1 and 4)--has turned the world upside down by appropriating the American cocktail for his exotic Tahitian
existence. Bateman, a young businessman, the representative of every middle-class virtue, and also a connoisseur of the
Martini--the Martini is civilized and sensitive--has come to bring a fellow American home from Tahiti. He is staggered by
Jackson's words because he realizes that Jackson has been able, in a stroke of miniature imperialism, to bring America to
Tahiti. This realization comes to him in the form of the Martini.
A half-century later the device--child mixes Martini for Americans in the Far East--is still effective. This time we are in
Korea. In the film M*A*S*H (1970), which sired a television series of great longevity, the first Martini scene occurs
approximately sixteen minutes into the film. The army surgeons Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Duke Forrest
(Tom Skerritt), clad in fatigues, sitting in their scruffy tent, are drinking Martinis in stemmed glasses. The Martinis have
been made by their servant, John-Ho (sometimes called Ho-John), a Korean teenager. One of their comrades (Robert
Duvall), a fervent Christian who is improbably praying while they drink, disapproves of their teaching the boy to mix
Martinis. The boy nervously departs saying, "I go wash clothes." Duke compliments him as he leaves: "You mix a mean
Martini." (Later Hawkeye says to him, of another Martini, "Fine of kind, Ho-John.")
© 1998 The Johns Hopkins University Press
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