A Debt to Pleasure: The Martini Rule

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Should you ever need to get out of somewhere in very short order – a tube station or drinks party, for example - bear in mind John Lanchester’ s maxim from A Debt to Pleasure: ‘“No Exit” always means “Exit”’ . It could save your life, your blushes or simply your evening. Less life-or-death is another sage piece of advice from the same source, which we think is worth quoting in full: ‘ I learned all I needed to know about the rules of proportion from the dry martini...The law is: Main ingredient (gin), subordinate ingredient (vermouth) and grace-note (lemon twist, olive). This is the law of proportion and rhythm that underlies all of the plastic arts, from cocktail-making and cooking to architecture, sculpture, pottery and dressmaking. Remember where you heard it first.’ It’ s a simple yet sophisticated idea that, once noticed, one is liable to see all around: a watch casing (main ingredient), a watch face (subordinate ingredient) and the hands (grace note); a suit, shirt and tie respectively; even the Patum Peperium, cucumber and pepper of a sandwich. We recommend it to you, and wish you a very well-proportioned Christmas.