I've seen many posts as to how what you order makes you look a certain way. Like how Appletinis and Jack and Cokes make you seem amateurish, or Jager and Red Bull makes you seem jockish. People drinking Long Island Iced Teas want to get drunk. I'm curious what you as a person dictates about your drink.
Before I get into this article I would like to say that I don't regard myself as a hateful person, nor do I believe that a stereotype can be truly accurate. I acknowledge that every person falls on a spectrum not necessarily a category. That being said, bartenders often make assumptions about guests as to what they like. We, of course, take whatever information we can from dialogue with our customers but other information is acquired based on things like, their mood, how well they dress, any accent they might have, their gender, and even their race. Some might summarize it in less specific terms like aura, energy, presence, je ne sais quoi, using their intuition, or some other politically correct term. I think it's time to talk about some of these things though. Yes, the world is a melting pot and many of these stereotypes may be becoming less and less accurate but they're still there.
Women like cosmopolitans. Black people like Hennessy. Rednecks like cheap macro beer.
I know an exception to every statement I just wrote, but they are still commonly believed.
Some craft bartenders I know try to make a drink that everyone in the world can enjoy, and that is something to strive for. But there are some amazing cocktails throughout the years that clearly fit a niche market. I have never in my life met a 22-year-old woman who drinks a rusty nail. Nor have I met a 70-year-old man who would drink a fuzzy navel. Sometimes drinks are made for a certain personality. The best drink I ever had was one that was made for me. The person sitting next to me's favorite drink would be different. Every drink recipe I know I tailor to my guest, a splash more of this, double the whiskey in that for him, a little champagne on top for her.
Now bartenders, of course, use a bit of stereotyping and abductive reasoning. Women tend toward fruitier lighter drinks, along with a more colorful palette. Most men like to be seen as men, so they drink harder spirits, whiskeys and they like and don't mind a dirty brown color to their drink. Any fruit is meant for the women. Younger, light-hearted women tend to take the lighter spirits with the fruit juices. These are drinks like Fuzzy Navels, Sex on the Beaches, Malibu Bay Breezes, and shots like the Silk Panties. More mature discerning women might go to a cosmopolitan, pomegranate martini, or have learned a taste in wine but still like lighter drinks than the opposite sex. Young men will drink Jack or Captain and Coke or stick to beer. Men who don't look like they're out at the bar for a party often stick to harder spirits like neat whiskey and martinis. Perhaps it's that the selecting sex that gets to drink whatever cocktails they want. Maybe drinking scotch at a bar has become a style of our mating dance. It may as well be noted that the rise of the feminist movement has also shown a rise in whiskey sales as well. Women are getting tired of drinks that infantilize them.
Wallet size is often correlated with beer knowledge. Young cheap people drink domestic hop water. Someone who asks for a Belgian Style IPA tends to be a bit more world traveled. Different classes also have some drinks commonly associated with their culture. In more "urban settings" (you know what I mean) people, mainly men, tend to like drinks that show off in some way. Expensive products talked about in rap music tend to appeal, as do some drinks that make you seem bad-ass, like a shot of flaming 151. In fact, many people actually credit rap music to saving the cognac industry. The gaudy approach is intended to draw attention and admiration from those around you rather than actually be of quality. A corollary could be drawn from a similar desire to wear large ostentatious jewelry. The nightclub scene, dive bar scene and craft cocktail scene are all very different of course.
There's a common practice among bars with experienced bartenders to have a "bartender's choice" on the menu. It's very hard to guess what a person wants besides what you can see. If you are self-conscious that you don't want to have people make an assumption about you or be pigeonholed, you might be best skipping this option. That said most bartenders are very good at it. Some bartenders can tell just by a person's hands things like what type of occupation they have, how long their workday was, and things like how much time they spend on personal appearance. That information is usually accurate and tells a bartender a lot about what kind of drink a guest might like. A bartender's ability to read a person's desires with as few words exchanged as possible is a skill in itself. It's truly impressive at times, and I find it fun to see what people think of me.
I want to hear what you all have to say about this.
What assumptions do you make about what cocktails your guests might like?
Photo Credit: Pikist