8 responses to “The three-martini lunch

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  6. Gary Gillman

    I entered the business world by the mid-1970’s and never saw anything like this. There was some letting go at closing dinners and client (evening) entertainment, but that was it. By then the fashion, salutary, was to play squash at noon if not work at the desk. I always wondered if the stories of martini lunches were exaggerated but the accounts above suggest it was very real. Perhaps it was a last gasp of the 1700’s-1800’s overindulgence in alcohol, memorably recounted in “The Alcoholic Republic”, a well-known study of some 20 years ago.

    At the same time, the bibulous amongst us – which term needn’t spell excess or drinking at inappropriate times – will be grateful for the era, which saw the introduction of straight rye and bourbon whiskeys in America as well as lager beer (via Germanic immigration). And I suppose viticulture got its legs, or roots rather, in California about this time. As always the alcohol question is a Janus-face…


  7. I remember the three-martini guys in corporate America and how social attitudes finally began to change in the 1970s. Unfortunately, I had a front row seat, witnessing the mayhem brought about by these so-called “silver bullets.” Management looked the other way in those years, even though it hurt the business and the lives of their employees were being ruined. When I got to the top of the food chain, I never let that behavior pass.

    • Amazing how long it was tolerated. Of course I’ve read that in the 1880s men might stop by the saloon up to a dozen times during the working day. Those who “never showed effects” (doubtful) were called “steady boys.”

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