Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was known for her wit and often lunched at the Algonquin Hotel (59 West 44th Street in Manhattan), forming a “Round Table” of gossip and ideas with other writers from 1919 until the 1930s. She was cited by 1944 as having said, “One more drink and I’d have been under the host!”
This fuller expression has been cited since at least 1965 (Parker’s authorship is not certain, although it’s been printed on Algonquin cocktail napkins):
“I can take one martini,
Two at the very most.
Three put me under the table,
And four put me under the host.”
Wikipedia: Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles.
From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in such venues as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed as her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the infamous Hollywood blacklist.
Parker went through three marriages (two to the same man) and survived several suicide attempts, but grew increasingly dependent on alcohol. Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a “wisecracker”. Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.
Algonquin Round Table years
In 1921, her career took off while she was writing theatre criticism for Vanity Fair, which she began to do in 1918 as a stand-in for the vacationing P. G. Wodehouse. At the magazine she met Robert Benchley, who became a close friend, and Robert E. Sherwood. The trio began lunching at the Algonquin Hotel on a near-daily basis and became founding members of the Algonquin Round Table. The Round Table numbered among its members the newspaper columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Alexander Woollcott. Through their re-printing of her lunchtime remarks and short verses, particularly in Adams’ column “The Conning Tower,” Dorothy began developing a national reputation as a wit.
Try and Stop Me
By Bennett Cerf
New York, NY: Editions for the Armed Services
“One more drink and I’d have been under the host!”
(Spoken by Dorothy Parker at a cocktail party—ed.)
Volume 31, Issues 6-12
In a less scholarly mood, a woman once wrote: “I can take one martini,/ Two at the very most./ Three put me under the table,/ And four put me under the host.”
Jock and Rock
By Len Harrington
San Diego, CA: Publishers Export Co., Inc.
By the third, Jan gave a toast. “Here’s to the martini. One at the most. Two puts you under the table, three under the host.”
Revolt in April
By Charles E. Mercer
New York, NY: World Pub. Co.
He ventured a remark that he thought might shock her: “One martini, two at most, three under the table, four under the host.”
Wide-eyed in Babylon:
By Ray Milland
London: Bodley Head
I remember a very famous female star in Hollywood who, when I asked her at a party if I could get her another martini, said, “I only have one. If I have two, I’m under the table. And if I have three, I’m under the host.”
23 December 1988, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, “Here’s to those who sent toasts” by Angus Lind, pg. E3, col. 1:
To a dry martini
Angie, as well as Harry Gamble of New Orleans and Peter Low of Metairie, also sent in nearly-similar versions of this one, to be offered by a woman:
“Here’s to the dry martini;
Always a perfect toast;
Three, I’m under the table,
Four, I’m under the host.”
A Journey into Dorothy Parker’s New York
By Kevin C. Fitzpatrick
Berkeley, CA: Roaring Forties Press
Dorothy Parker loved a martini—“but two at the most. Three, I’m under the table; Four, I’m under the host.” (The quip is even printed on cocktail napkin at the Algonquin.)
New York City • Food/Drink • (0) Comments • Thursday, February 03, 2011 • Permalink