Drink it up: GJ woman ponders her 389 martini glasses

First things first: gin.

“Gin, gin, gin.” Mary Marlow is emphatic on this point. She may not make them as strong as she used to, but she still has no use for a vodka martini.

As for her recipe, or maybe it’s more of a method, mix five shots of gin with one shot of vermouth and put it in the fridge. Then, when the mood strikes, fill a martini glass with ice, add a fair amount of water, a splash of the gin and vermouth mixture and two green olives. Heck, these days you can even buy low-sodium olives.

Like she said, “not very strong.”

As for the glass to put in it, well ... she has her choice. A lot of choices, in fact. Actually, 389 of them, to be exact.

From her first martini in Pakistan in the 1950s, Marlow’s collection of martini glasses has steadily grown. People give them to her as gifts and she picks them up on daily scouting trips to Goodwill. They line shelves and surfaces in her Grand Junction home. They are on end tables in the living room and a squat bookcase in her bedroom, on the TV case and the dining room table.

“I don’t know what to do with all of them now,” admitted Mary, who is 86.

There are squat glasses and glasses that would hold a fifth of gin, glasses painted in bright swirls of color and one glass, a Stoli commemorative one, that says “Marlow’s.”

“I found that at Goodwill,” she said. “Can you believe it?”

She doesn’t even drink martinis that often anymore — as a registered nurse, she’s long known the value of moderation — which is why she’s a little mystified about what is to become of her extensive collection. But back in the ‘50s, at the compound where she and her husband, Earl, lived in Karachi, Pakistan, they were all the rage.

They carried a hint of sophistication and elegance, and at parties with other Westerners who lived nearby, the soundtrack was gin and ice in a cocktail shaker.

It was similar at parties in Tripoli, Libya, where she and Earl, who died in 2002, lived next, and then in Aspen. She didn’t drink them often, but a martini was her drink of choice when she was at a party or out with friends. And so the collection was born.

They really are lovely, with their clean lines and inverted pyramid shape. The majority of her collection has never actually seen a martini, at least not one that she made.

And these days, when she makes her daily stop at Kannah Creek Brewing Co. at 4:45 p.m., if she even gets a drink at all it’s rarely a martini.

“Too strong,” she said.

Instead, she’ll maybe have a Bloody Mary, chat with friends and then head to The Ale House for a bowl of the soup of the day. If a band is playing, she’ll dance. She loves to dance and has taken several ballroom dancing classes at Colorado Mesa University (though her preference is to dance by herself).

At home, she listens to big band music, swaying gently to the lilting rhythm as she pauses for a break between trips out to volunteer, to peruse Goodwill, to talk with friends and to dance.

And she considers her martini glass collection, which she doesn’t figure son Martin or daughter Molly will want to inherit. But until she figures out what to do with it, the light shines brilliant through the lovely rows of curving glass.


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