Conference in 1943, President Franklin D...

AT THE TEHRAN

September 04, 1991|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

AT THE TEHRAN conference in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin to the gin martini.

"How do you like it?" FDR asked.

"Well, all right," said Uncle Joe, "but it is cold on the stomach."

FDR bears some responsibility for this lack of enthusiasm. He always used too much vermouth. Stalin went home and told everybody to keep on drinking straight vodka.

In 1956 President Eisenhower served good, strong martinis a the Geneva summit. Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin loved them. At a dinner he stood up and said, "I propose a toast to the martini, which President Eisenhower introduced, and of which I have become so fond. President Eisenhower opened the martini road at Geneva!"

Unfortunately Bulganin didn't stay in office long enough to lead his country down that road. That is why last month the putsch in Moscow failed. Many of the guys attempting it were drinking vodka straight, warm and in large quantities.

Vice President Gennady Yanayev and Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov were drunk at a party when they were called to the Kremlin for the emergency meeting at which the fateful decision was made.

They and several of their co-conspirators stayed boozed up through most of the week, drinking bottle after bottle of room temperature vodka. When Yanayev was arrested, he was passed out on his office floor, which was littered with several "large" empty vodka bottles.

* * * Margaret Bowler sent me an article from Bon Appetit in which the claim is made that the martini was first mixed for and named by John D. Rockefeller.

This is absolutely not true. The story was probably planted by the Rockefeller interests in the hopes of getting the best and brightest behind the presidential campaign of John D. Rockefeller IV. When it failed to do that, he decided not to run.

It failed because, thanks to ex-Hopkins man Lowell Edmunds, author of "The Silver Bullet," martini drinkers know the name of their favorite drink and the concept of unsweetened gin mixed with dry vermouth pre-dated 1910 by at least a decade and perhaps three, and Rockefeller had nothing to do with it.

* * * Civil rights leader Vernon E. Jordan Jr. writes in the Wall Street Journal that he was seated next to a man on an airplane who "after his first martini advised me that black people had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. After his third, I asked a few questions."

The questioning revealed to the man that he had been lifted up by the GI Bill, SBA and FHA loans in just the way "affirmative action" advocates want to assist blacks.

He seems to have been convinced, but polls show most white Americans are not, which is why we keep having Republican presidents.

Hmmmm. Maybe if the Democrats get everybody to drink three martinis on Election Day . . . .

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