First published in 1998

the Nacirema Drinking Society

This program is about learning how to appreciate the Martini.


There is a practicality assumed in all twelve step programs that addresses ways to improve oneself by either obtaining or removing a certain quality or habit. Let it be known that this Twelve Step Program assumes no such practicality.

During its hiatus, the Martini was that archetypal drink brought down to every caste in society, from the blue-collar worker to the high-class social dabbler or corporate executive. Every drink poured could be and was considered a direct manifestation of the First Martini. But even this mode of appreciation could not escape the hasty and unceremonious attitude that would demean the Martini as a simple drink of willy-nilly hedonism. The Martini became taken for granted. And the multitudes became like a pack of fawning publicans, unruly and taking their toll on the Martini experience for others. Yet the Martini itself can never be truly affected by such denigration. 

In view of this, we are proud to present in this edition of the Twelve Steps, and for the first time in the history of the West, Shree Marti Nee Swami's enlightening commentary on each of the Steps.

the 12 Step Martini Program


Pre-Requisite (Getting out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini)

One must be extremely weary, having traveled only to be naked before the abode of being.


Commentary: This weariness can range from the superficial to the profound. The more superficial the weariness, the more discipline is required to move successfully through the temptations that would uproot Martininess. For example, there can be weariness of the drinks that one usually drinks, such as beer, fruity cocktails, whisky and cola, and so forth. This is perhaps the most basic. In the middle, there is weariness of attire and attitude; in other words, the socially based revelations that men and women, for the most part, dress like slobs, that no one has class these days, or that being discontent with the rat race by no means removes one from its ranks. Then there is the more reflective weariness of the soul or the mind, what is often called the spiritual or philosophical: the discontent with one's life or the inability to submit oneself to the mystery of being as a whole.


We must note that without the proper attention and urgency each pre-requisite can easily be reduced into base forms of motives for drinking. First, the will to replace a drink can demote the Martini to the status of being "another cocktail". What then is existence when the Martini has become an ordinary, everyday cocktail? Second, the desire to confront one's existence within the rat race can turn into a capricious escapism: a martini after work to escape what should in fact be addressed within the third category: reflective weariness. Third, philosophical and religious discontent can become a blanketed spite, a unilateral rejectionism. Reality is seen to be an illusion in contrast to the experience of Martinidom, and existence becomes a complacent detachment void of meaningfulness and actualization.


Initiation: First Martini

After proper pre-requisitation, a martini should then be imbibed. This martini must be straight up, with one olive.


Commentary: It is of great importance that this first martini should be had within the presence of a consummate Martini drinker. If one is of great discipline and discerning, however, then it is possible to have this first martini by oneself. It is also worth noting that the locale of this martini should not be in the best of places, but a mediocre setting that is known to have at least decent martinis. This is so that the initiate does not have to contend with or worry about proper Martini etiquette, at least not until Step Eight.


Gin is orthodox, but within the more liberal thinking, vodka is "acceptable". Whatever one's decision, the alcohol selection should remain unchanged throughout the Twelve Steps. The gin/vodka should not have as its source the rail or well unless it meets the standards of an acceptable grade, such as Gordon's. This is why having the advice of a consummate Martini drinker is invaluable. One should also avoid the highest rent alcohol. Having a high class gin/vodka would be like, as the Jesus said, "casting pearl before swine."


Denegation of Negative Existence

Upon finishing one's first martini, one's reaction is decisive to what next follows. If one likes the Martini, one may skip to Step Six...with great vigilance of oneself. If one does not like the Martini or loathes it, one must continue to Step Four.


Commentary: It is true that physiologically speaking, it is more than likely that the initiate will be heavily inebriated. This is because the power of the Martini spirit, being entirely pure, blinds the senses and causes a slight lapse in ordinary consciousness. But aside from this effect, and therefore what is our subject in Step Three, is the initiate's opinion about the Martini.


Generally, the disposition towards the Martini after the first drink is dislike, or even disdain. The phrase "acquired taste" is often mentioned as a polite way of expressing one's dislike for the Emperor of Cocktails. Not many can endure the fire of its baptism. And hence, the Martini has appropriately earned the name the "Fisher Spirit".


It is here that the guidance of a consummate Martini drinker again proves invaluable, especially when the initiate's reaction is one of violent irreverence. Indeed, convincing the initiate that one should remain with the steps requires either vigorous nurturing or uncompromising threats. No doubt, each consummate drinker will have his own distinct pedagogy.


The Second Drink

A second martini is to be imbibed either shortly after the first one or some duration after the first Martini encounter, but this interval between martinis should last no longer than one week. This second martini must also be "on the rocks." It is crucial that the initiate, whether continuing with the second presently or not, must avoid regurgitating for that evening, either as a result of the second martini or other drinks.


Commentary: The duration preceding the second martini varies according to the fortitude of the initiate. Some are not able stomach another so closely after the first. So it is necessary to imbibe a second martini some time afterwards. The purpose of having the second martini on the rocks is twofold: 1) so as not to repeat the first experience, thereby re-instilling the dislike or possibly escalating dislike to disdain; and 2) the wateriness of this second martini provides a great contrast to the first, purer drink. The initiate should be subsequently disappointed with this second martini's potency.


A "martini on the rocks" is a gainsay. A "martini on the rocks" has a martini status only within the context of these Twelve Steps. This is because it does not stand in and of itself as a representation of the Martini, but rather stands as an intermediary realm between non-Martinihood and Martinihood.


The Third Drink

This third martini is to be had straight up with two olives.


Unconditionally and by decree, the third martini is never to be had within the same duration as the first. And rarely should one have this third martini within the same duration of the second. This is because the third martini is the drink of re-vitalization and should not be co-mingled with any other emotion of the soul or reasoning of the mind.


Commentary: The third martini carries with it the significance of the first completion. The number three is the number of completion and we must bear in mind that the Steps occur as multiples of three. More shall be said of the Twelve Step nature at the conclusion.


Let us note here that as the first completion, the third martini is a return to the Martini drink with one change: i.e. the second olive. The extra olive is by no means superfluous. It symbolizes the return to the initial martini experience in Step One. Through the "last", the initiate returns to the "first".


The extra olive is often eaten by the initiate while enjoying this homecoming, a passage completed. Or, it is shared with a beloved or possibly even the consummate drinker (who may be the beloved) as a symbolic act of unity. We cannot put into words the significance inhering in this Step. This is where the change from dislike or disdain should be dissolved: the eyes open to the pure, the accepting of the spirit.


Martini Contextualization (Martinization, or being shaken)

After the tides of discontent (with both the initial martini and human existence) have been turned, it is now necessary to offer contextualization for the new world discovered and consolation for the old world lost. Without such a step, the Martini and the initiate reside in a listless state of incompletion, which can then become fragmentation and possibly schizophrenia.


Contextualization occurs by providing the initiate with the stories of Martininess, either in film or literature. Such works include The Thin Man, The Sun Also Rises, My Man Godfrey, Casino Royale, The Tender Trap, or even works loosely affiliated with the drink, works that embody the ethos of Martiniacal rejection of mediocre existence or the struggle with it: The Maltese Falcon, The Killers, Charade, Laura, The Glass Key, and so forth.


Commentary: Such contextualization is best if it occurs within a punctuated period of time. The best occasion for this is during a week night or day-off from work. This is because this is when one feels most the burden of existence, the repetition of one's job. If the medium of this contextualization is in literary form, it is suggested that all reading occur during the moments just before sleeping.


It should be added that contextualization is not a single event. It should occur throughout the remaining Steps.


The Fourth Drink

The Fourth Drink must be straight up with either one or two olives. Step Seven should commence either after the completion of Step Six or upon its near completion.


Step Seven is the Step of repetition. It is the deliberate participation in the New Drink, a re-statement of one's resolve to be within the letting be of Martinihood.


Commentary: There should be no variation of the Martini except within the allowances stated (one or two olives). Repetition is the key. It is hoped that in this Step, an appreciation for the Martini is solidified by means of greeting the Form of the Martini in its most common state and appearance (dry, shaken or stirred, one or two olives).


New Attire

With the change in one's understanding of the Martini comes a transformation that is rooted in the center of Martinihood.



Having new attire while drinking means having the appropriate attire. The attire of clothes must be fitted properly, to show temperance; it must be traditional, to show reverence and erudition; it must be clean, to show preparation; and it must be ceremonious, to show urgency and devotion.


Commentary: This Step has often been criticized for being the most superfluous of the methodology. This is because this Step addresses a change in attire, something that is often perceived to be rooted in vanity. However, when the text is given closer attention, one may notice that the Step roots this change in a transformation which itself is rooted in Martinihood.


The word "attire" means literally "row" or "line". It denotes the line of ascension from one state of being to another. It alludes to the Ancient symbolism of garb and the revealing of one's state of understanding through the "dresses" of the soul. Hence, we are left to wonder what it may then mean to undergo a transformation rooted in Martinihood, to wear the attire of the Martini.


The Fifth Drink

The fifth drink is to be imbibed alone, preferably within one's abode in the wee hours of the morning. One is also to be dressed in one's new attire. And upon finishing the entire martini, which shall not be altered from its first or third state, the initiate shall then recite the Morning Song and Incantation once uttered by the sage Francis Albertos of Cici:


"Here's to absent friends...fuck'em."


The initiate shall await the Sun, then carry on towards sleep.


Commentary: The isolationism required in Step Nine is intended to instill self-reflection, for the initiate has now progressed three quarters of the way. The impudence of the incantation is used to release any ill will or uncleanliness. It is also a playful proclamation of resolution to continue with the Program. It is a time of silence and preparation for the final Steps that lie ahead.


Martini Hour

The Martini Hour signals the last moment contained within the purely transient. It is the hour often accompanied by five chimes, or gongs, or the mad rush of rats crawling out from beneath the weight of the business world.


The Martini hour may occur among friends or strangers. The single requirement of this hour is that no more than one martini can be had. No other drinks may be had. No conversation may be indulged concerning one's own martini, martinis in general, or the philosophy behind martinis. Failure to do so invites the seed of snobbery, and one may find oneself prematurely boasting of martinis and Martininess before one has actually understood the Martini.


At the end of the hour, the initiate must depart. There can be no hesitation; there can be no excuses. The initiate must leave and retire to sleep. No food shall be eaten, no amusement taken. The initiate shall repose with the essence of the Martini pervading his soul.


Commentary: The rules may indeed seem rather strict. Yet we should do well to remember that the Martini hour is synonymous with a casting off of the old self. It is the final renunciation of one's former self.


One may liken this to the duration between the end of the Martini hour and the next dawn. It marks the plateau on which everything can be seen.


No Martinis

The dawn after Martini hour shall be accompanied by No Martinis. The initiate is not allowed to have a martini for at least a duration lasting one week but not exceeding one fortnight.


What must last is the letting be of the last Martini.


Commentary: The No Martini is the venturing into the wilderness or desert. It is a period of cleansing the soul, of clearing the body, mind and spirit for the final moment of contemplation and enduring. The enduring is not a simple feat of will and strength; for according to the Step, what must last is the letting be. The enduring is in this sense not a "waiting for" or a "hoping". It is the state of being that allows for the last and most profound Step in the Twelve Step Program.


Martini by Grace

Martini by Grace means that the initiate's next martini can come only if it is given to him by another. If the initiate should hint, or invite friends to a bar, or make a martini in separate but successive steps, then the initiate has recanted all that has been thus far fulfilled. In such despicable instances, martini drinking never transcends the realm of chatter and politics.


The Martini by Grace means that the initiate must be invited and given a martini. It's composition is entirely dependent on the play of the gods. Indeed, the composition may be considered the forebodence of things to come in one's comportment back to the source of all things.


Commentary: The Martini by Grace occupies a dual role as the last and first martini. It is the last in that it is the final martini calling to an end the Twelve Step Program. With the acceptance of the last martini, the initiate becomes whole again and returns to the world that always was. The last martini is therefore the first martini. It welcomes one to the world as a new being, a being centered upon Martinihood.


What the Final Step mentions as a "forebodence" suggests that from Step Twelve arrives a way of living in Martinihood. Because the Last Martini is gratis, one's response is a way of giving thanks to what has been bestowed. But here, thanks is not a single act or event immediately preceding and ending after the Martini Gratis. From the moment the Last Martini is received, how one lives by the Martini hereafter is how one shows one's thanks; for indeed the Last Martini by Grace welcomes one into the New Life that is Martinihood.



It is thus fitting to end with the thoughts of the eminent drinker Himself: "And thus Glaucon, the Steps have been saved and have not perished, and will save us if we are obedient to the word spoken; and we shall pass safely over the river of Soberness and our soul will not be defiled. Wherefore my counsel is, that we hold fast ever to the Martini way and follow after gin and vermouth always, considering that the soul is immortal and able to imbibe every sort of cocktail. Thus we shall live dear to one another and to the gods, both while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round to shake their Martinis, we receive our reward. And it shall be well with us both in this life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years which we have been describing."