Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gender Specific Cocktails?

Lately I've seen a few things talking about gender and beverage choices, and some of them offend me a little (and in few cases, more than a little). I recognize that I'm not the typical woman walking into a bar, but I've been pondering just far off I am from the norm.

Do most women really only like the fruity, sweet (and/or light) cocktails? Even if that were true, is that because that's really their preference, or is it because of how spirits have been marketed to them, and/or because of a lack of education & experience with other choices?

His & Hers Press Release
I received a press release
recently from a large boutique hotel group announcing their new "His and Hers" cocktail menus. They claim their aim is to "entertain the individual palates of women and men." The press release posits that due to TV shows like "Sex and the City," the cocktail has become something that is "perceived as a 'woman's drink'" (seriously, do men think that??). Their new menu is intended to "re-introduce the cocktail as a preferable option for men" and "the women's offerings will set the beat for new cocktail trends."

And Men vs. Women Drink?
Women are encouraged to order a Blackberry Margarita, or a Chai Almond Deluxe. Men, on the other hand, are encouraged to order a Bronx Cocktail or a Dark and Stormy, according to the press release.

I'd like to think there are plenty of ladies out there who would order something that is likely to appear on the "his" list rather than the "hers," and perhaps my husband is right that women actually get the better end of the deal here because they could easily order from both (whereas a man might get (or just fear) an eyebrow raise if he ordered from the ladies' menu).

Is this necessary and/or helpful to take this approach to a menu? I think it would be far better to just have a great cocktail list with a bit of a story for each one, and let anyone order anything they like from it. Am I missing something here?

Note: photo in this post is from istockphoto.com. I don't have any friends who order fruity drinks. Well yes I do, but I don't take pictures of them doing it.


erik.ellestad said...

I dunno, I think both the Bronx and Dark and Stormy are pretty girly, if you ask me. Real men drink Martinis or straight spirits!


Darcy O'Neil had an interesting article about how glassware might affect whether it is OK for a man to drink a certain kind of cocktail:

Is Glassware a Barrier to Cocktail Acceptance

~Sonja~ said...

Thanks Erik! Seems to me like it'd be better just to have one list, after having taken glassware into account as well. That is indeed an interesting article, looking at the issue from another angle. So glad you posted it, as I hadn't seen it before!

Anonymous said...

I have female friends who swear by Manhattans or Jameson shots, and male friends who won't drink anything less sweet/fruity than a Tequila Sunrise or Long Island Iced Tea.

Personally, I like seeing the reaction of friends who tease me for drinking a pink girly drink when I say, "OK - YOU try it", and they discover that the "cosmo" in my hand is actually a negroni.

Anonymous said...

i try not to get worked up about marketing gimmicks, but don't always succeed. i'm in the apparently atypical category of woman who is moving from drinking single malts to classic cocktails. i've had a frou-frou drink now and again and even enjoyed a few, but suspect i'd always perfer something on "his" menu.

Anonymous said...

People should drink what they enjoy, not what they feel they have to in order to conform to a stereotype.

It's a little insulting really to essentially be told "you are a (wo)man, therefore you will like these drinks". It's like saying because I'm English I have to drink tea and eat scones every afternoon.

Doug Winship said...

I like to have fun on my blog with "Men's" and "Women's" drinks, largely because I occasionally order drinks that might be found on the dreaded "Booze for Broads" list. Yet, I find myself more enamored of women with the personality to order a Manhattan (or Pegu) and stick her nose up at an Appletini.
As for the separate menus, I can see the value for a lot of people who are unsure of themselves or their tastes—Most folks don't know a Manhattan from an Old Fahsioned, and any way to start the journey to learning benefits the culture. But I can assure you that I'd give any bartender who presided over such a list a hard time for being a wiener, while desperately looking for something on the ladies' list to drink.

Lance J. Mayhew said...

Both my wife and I adore Dark and Stormy's so I can't make a judgement either way. However, back in my nightclub days I would refuse to make strawberry margaritas for men. I'd tell them to order something else (more because I hated to blend those things than any real feeling of inappropriateness). I could always shame them into a Jack and Coke if nothing else.

Kitty said...

Great post! I'm curious as to what hotel chain this might be? I'd love to check out their lists...

As for marketing ideas, I recently posted to the LUPEC Boston blog about the marketing copy used to promote Eric Felten's HOW'S YOUR DRINK? on Amazon.com, which is unmistakably written for the male consumer. It left me wondering: are classic cocktails IN GENERAL believe to be "a guy thing"?

It really bummed me out...

Anonymous said...

Ironically, Eric Felten wrote a thoughtful article about gender stereotypes in drinking a couple of years ago called "He Drinks, She Drinks: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116138159885699385.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
Required reading for anyone thinking about this issue.

~Sonja~ said...

Thanks Kitty and Lauren for the comments and the additional links, both are interesting and add to the discussion.

The WSJ article just might be one of the things that inspired the idea this hotel chain was trying, and the marketing of the book might be coming from that same place - trying to "man-up" (can't find a better word) cocktail lists and get guys to look at them again.

I'm still not buying into that being necessary, but both of these pieces sheds light on the subject.

~Sonja~ said...

Check out Lauren's new post on this subject on Drink Boston at: