Though I may be too young to remember it personally, I harbor deep nostalgia for the bygone days of the three-martini lunch. Apparently it was once acceptable for executives, public officials and especially journalists to return to work utterly sloshed...


...the inevitable result of having downed several hard drinks in quick succession while, say, managing to conduct business and scandalous rumor-mongering.

I don't know why those days vanished, or when, but I know that I have had a half-glass of wine during my lunch break precisely once in the past 18 months, and that despite its negligible effect I felt guilty.

Then, of course, came the Five-Drink Lunch.

The occasion was a visit to Santa Fe by celebrated mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, who's been featured on the Iron Chef with Italian celeb-chef Mario Batali and recently published a glossy tome on fancy drinks and how to make them. (Never mind that what you'll spend to acquire all the ingredients is akin to buying a small car; B&L is a fan.)

During his visit earlier this month, Abou-Ganim gave a wide-ranging talk to an audience of mostly bartenders on the art of mixing drinks. What we learned:

1. If you work at a bar, don't leave the olives languishing in the condiments tray all day; they'll get all mushy and oxidized. Instead, keep them in their jar, in the fridge.

2. Vermouth doesn't last forever. It's actually wine; you shouldn't really have it around for more than a month.

3. Shake vs. Stir: Shake drinks that contain syrup, juice or egg. Stir the drinks that don't, such as a Negroni (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth).

4. Best easy martini: 3.7 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth, and an olive that hasn't been sitting around all day in a garnish tray.

After an entertaining talk and some demonstrations from Abou-Ganim, the audience indulged in a parade of fancy drinks--some classics, some of Abou-Ganim's own specialties--growing boozier by the minute. To wit:

Unfortunately, B&L had to, um, work that afternoon, so very little actual drinking was accomplished. But according to Abou-Ganim, the incompatibility of work and heavy drinking may change soon enough. He calls today's fascination with bartending, mixology and drinks of yore the "second coming of the golden age of cocktails."

In light of that hope (and the inevitable return of mixing drinks with work), I give you a recipe that will restore your faith in the art of the cocktail--and which, now that I think of it, goes perfectly with lunch.

Tony Abou-Ganim's Cable Car

1.5 oz Captain Morgan rum

3/4 oz orange curacao

1.5 oz fresh lemon sour*

In a cocktail mixer, pour the ingredients over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (Abou-Gamin's recipe calls for sugaring the rim) and garnish with a twist of orange peel. Voila!

*You can make your own fresh lemon sour with 2 parts lemon juice to one part simple syrup.

Click here for more recipes from Abou-Ganim.