I just finished reading Cornell Woolrich’s Rendezvous in Black (1948) and 2x in the book he has a character say he’s having “a martini for the rent”. I didn’t note the page numbers unfortunately so I can’t produce the exact context but I believe they were drinks ordered in a bar. I’m not finding any other uses of the phrase and I can’t guess at the meaning...except maybe because gin was once a very cheap, lower-class alcohol (though certainly not but the time of publication of this book)? Maybe it was a cute way of ordering a dry martini because vermouth is the pricier ingredient? Anyone have any ideas?

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Nevermind. Skimmed the book for an occurrence and it was actually “A man came in and stood up at the bar and ordered a Martini, just to pay his rent.” So he ordered a cocktail he didn’t intend to drink as “rent” for his seat at the bar.

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