The other weekend, I went to a swanky cocktail lounge with some friends. Imagine the kind of establishment where the cocktails cost you your first-born, the men are wearing suits, and the bartenders are “models who serve.” If it weren’t for the company, I probably would not have chosen to go to this bar or have had a great time, but when in Rome…
Anyway, from the extensive cocktail menu, I chose a libation from a long list of fruity concoctions that had as many ingredients as calories and fancy, complicated names that give British royalty a run for their money. After drinking this mixture, that was essentially a Cosmopolitan, I decided that no, I am indeed not a frou-frou chick-drink kind of gal.
Yes, I appreciate themed cocktails, pink martinis, and Champagne, but I’ve never been able to stomach sweet drinks that mask the flavor of less than remarkable liquor. Give me some top-shelf gin and I’m happy. Why add the extra calories with all that simple syrup, juice, and garnish. Unless you are on a beach, the only acceptable fruit for a drink is a wedge of lime or lemon. For my personal palette, sweet and sugary should be left for dessert, and an alcoholic beverage should have integrity.
That being said, I ordered a gin martini with Bombay Sapphire as my second round. It’s a no-nonsense, classic drink with my favorite flavorful type of hard liquor. It tastes good, looks good in your hand, can be sipped all night, is relatively cheap in comparison to other mixed martinis, and won’t stain your dress if you spill a little while being shoved around in a crowd.
One of the girls in our group asked me what I was drinking, and the conversation went something like this:
Her: “A plain gin martini? No olives, no twist?”
Me: “Yup, gin and Vermouth. Shaken not stirred, like James Bond.”
Her: “Wow! Isn’t that strong?”
Me: “Yes, well it is a good top-shelf liquor, and I really like the flavor of gin.”
Her: “Well that’s impressive. That’s the kind of drink a guy would find sexy.”
I’m used to people’s reactions to my drinking habits (what with that hallow leg, Irish blood, and all) but it was the last part that got my wheels turning. What is it about drinking a strong, traditionally masculine cocktail that makes it sexy?
I thought back to historical drinking habits and found that they don’t usually include women. The ancient Greek symposium was a male-only affair and in Western culture up until the Edwardian period, men would remove themselves for Port after dinner while women waited in a frilly, pastel salon. Maybe drinking habits and attitudes changed during the loose morals 1920’s when women started frequenting establishments that offered dancing, contraband booze, and free mingling with unmarried men.
Women always had their “girly” drinks, including mulled wines, ratafia, and sherry. So when and why did drinking “masculine” drinks become acceptable and appealing? Maybe it is because men think we can play with the boys and keep up with them. Maybe it is the juxtaposition of the soft and feminine with the hard-edged and manly drink. Maybe men are just hoping we will get drunk faster.
I don’t really have an answer for you, but it is something that I think about more now. The next time I meet a guy at a bar, I might just lead with “what are you drinking?” The polite reciprocation of the question and my answer are bound to get the same admiring response that my friend gave me, and maybe my “sexy drink” will get me a sexy man.