AND COUNTING

I try to be generous. I skip a few days here and there. I don’t count them. I’m sure there are days when I was sick, or when there was no gin.

Words by: MICHAEL LUDERS
Photographs by: JAKE LUDERS

In the interest of fairness, I should shave a few days off each year for that. Or for those days when I just craved a glass of whiskey. But since I buy gin by the case and since I haven’t craved a whiskey in ages, really how many days should I allow? I want honesty here, the genuine number; I’m already going to be called into question based on the enormity of my initial calculations. At the same time, I’m not about to give up precious days either. I’m in competition with no other than myself. I am not about to cheat, but either am I giving up the benefit of doubt.

I have a calendar and a calculator in front of me. And a martini. I am set upon a reckoning of the highest order. I am not trying to ascertain the boundaries of the universe, or the depths of the oceans. I am not trying to learn algorithms that will feed the poor, or win a lottery. Malthusians are damned to quixotic notions of doom-seeking. So too, the Keynesians and the Austrians. My quest is nobler, and more optimistic: a tabulation of martinis consumed to date. The number is astounding on its face. Troubling even. But when broken down, it makes perfect sense. Really, it isn’t all that impressive. In fact, it is an example of restraint. Fellow drinkers can seek either solace or concern in the number. That number is 22,745.

One has one’s own idea about the Perfect Martini. And there is little agreement. This is an odd notion. There are only two ingredients, yet it could be made poorly more often than any other cocktail. I won’t even get into some of the… um … more modern aberrations of this truly classic concoction. To do so is to give acknowledgment to those who would do only harm to fading ideals of tradition and politesse. I will say, however, that some additions to the convention truly add to the experience. The writer, James Salter, suggests a whisper of Worcestershire sauce, added to the mixing glass before the ice and gin. Michael Dorsey, vagabond and cocktail gadfly, insists on a dash of orange bitters. Lemon peel or olives. Wet or dry. Shaken or stirred. These are age-old and irresolvable issues, there is no point bringing them up but tosay that certainly graver matters threaten the future of this noble cocktail.

So how is it that I can say with seriousness that having drunk 22,548—soon to be 22,549 and 22,550—martinis is not unconscionable? Well, first an explanation of the math is in order. It’s quite simple really. I have been drinking them religiously for 31 years. I drink two each day, even when I am laid out with the flu. Some days, of course I will have none. Some I will have one. But these days are too rare to count, and are negated by the days when I have several. But for as long as I can remember, I have had two a day on average. Two a day. That does not seem to me to be a particularly ruinous regimen. My doctor says stress kills an unseemly number of men and woman each year. If two martinis a day takes the edge off, then have at ‘em.

“But no more than two,” he admonishes. “And for gods sakes make them in civilized portions.”

And so forthwith:

Words by MICHAEL LUDERS