Three-martini lunch

Three-martini lunch

The three-martini lunch is a term used in the United States to describe a leisurely, indulgent lunch enjoyed by businesspersons or executives. It refers to a common belief that many businesspersons have enough leisure time and wherewithal to consume more than one martini during the work day. Steaks or lobster are sometimes considered a staple of these lunches.

Business matters are often discussed at these lunches. The "three-martini lunch" is therefore considered a business expense (which includes travel, meals, etc.) and thus can qualify for a tax deduction.[1]

The three-martini lunch is no longer common practice[2] for several reasons, including the implementation of "fitness for duty" programs by numerous companies, the increased criminalization of alcohol misuse,[3] a general decrease in available leisure time for business executives,[4] and the social stigma attached to drinking during the day in the United States.

Jimmy Carter condemned the practice during the 1976 presidential campaign.[1] Carter portrayed it as part of the unfairness in the nation's tax laws, claiming that the working class was subsidizing the "$50 martini lunch."[5] This was because a "rich businessman" could write off this type of lunch as a business expense (a 1986 law limited the meal-expense deduction to 80 percent. In 1993, businesspeople were only able to receive a 50 percent write-off).[1][5] His opponent, incumbent President Gerald R Ford, responded with: "The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?"[1][6]

Comedian George Carlin once commented that while the three-martini lunch was being cracked down on, that it shouldn't affect the working man's "two-joint coffee break".


  1. ^ a b c d Kuntzman, Gersh, Martinis for Victory!, Newsweek, October 22, 2006 (URL last accessed March 13, 2008).[dead link]
  2. ^ Shindler, Merrill (May 22, 2000). "Water, Water everywhere... - the disappearance of the three-martini lunch". Los Angeles Business Journal. Archived from the original on Mar 30, 2008. Retrieved October 30, 2006. 
  3. ^ Sorich, Sonya (October 26, 2006). "Business drinkers walk fine line". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Archived from the original on 2007-02-06.  Internet Archive; URL last accessed June 4, 2010).
  4. ^ Drummond, Mike, What Ever Happened to the 3 Martini Lunch?, The Charlotte Observer, March 14, 2005 (URL last accessed October 30, 2006)
  5. ^ a b Stratton, Jeremy, The decline of the three-martini lunch, Downtown Journal (Minneapolis-St. Paul), October 30, 2006 (URL last accessed October 30, 2006).[dead link]
  6. ^ Gray, Blake W., Trends change but the martini is always cool, San Francisco Chronicle, December 2, 2004 (URL last accessed January 11th, 2007).

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