Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In Defense Of Girly Drinkers

The Washington Post has a regular “liquor & spirits” columnist Jason Wilson who writes pretty harshly about so-called Girly Drinks. His column this week vacillates between blaming women and blaming marketing for these poor-quality drinks. (Poor quality, meaning both in terms of discernment of class and of flavor. )

The topic of so-called "girly drinks" may very well be the third rail of spirits commentary. But let's be perfectly honest: The cocktail bar is a place where gender stereotypes remain stark and divided.
Although he certainly doesn’t mind helping that stereotype along.

And I get the impression that liquor companies like to keep it that way.
I wish he had explored the marketing side of this equation more. Marketing sweet drinks towards women is perhaps a big reason why girly drinks are associated with women. Does Wilson know that the reason Coke came out with Coke Zero is because men apparently didn’t want to be seen drinking “diet” products like diet coke? (By my favorite penis-branding ad company Crispin Porter & Bogusky)

How else to explain the continued rise of brightly colored drinks targeted at women? How to explain the use of "Girls Night Out" in so many marketing campaigns? You used to be able to blame it all on "Sex and the City." But now? Get over it, ladies. There haven't been new episodes of that show since 2004; it can't possibly still be setting the trend. (But it may yet again; the recent news that a movie is in the works must have bartenders everywhere dusting off their Cosmo recipes.)
Yes ladies, you need to get over your cosmo and appletini desires because apparently a TV show was canceled three years ago. You women are so stupid to like those drinks because of a TV show, ya know? God women are dumb sweet-sucking morons distracted by pretty-colored alcohols.

The column itself actually had an interesting idea. I’ve been pretty curious about all those eye-catching bottles of pre-mixed “cocktail” spirits. (Not the ever present T.G.I.Fridays premixed Mudslides or Stirrings high-fructose corn syrup-and-sugar-rimmer mixers, stuff like Smirnoff's Vodka Mojito.) What do you get buying a vodka or a rum that is pretty much a pre-made cocktail? Unfortunately Wilson doesn’t go into much detail.

My bar looked like a candy store. It also smelled like a candy store and tasted like a candy store. I wish I could tell you I enjoyed these. But, sadly, every one is just too sweet for me. Cloyingly so. Perhaps I, as a man, should admit my own shortcomings and move on.
Does Wilson even like Mojitos or cosmos when not made in a pre-mixed concoction?

He then talks to some storied female bartender (who of course only drinks manly drinks) and at first was “appalled at the very thought” of girly drinks and then later, over e-mail, vainly defends the female taste in cocktails.
While noting that pre-mixed cocktail products are "a shame" and that "there are other ways of making a drink pretty, feminine or suitable for the 'not ready for straight liquor yet' palate," Voisey noted that "females are generally more prone to experiment and try new and unusual things, including mixed drinks."
Wilson’s column pretty much generates a straight up male vision that drinking non-sweet things is manly and sweet drinks are feminine (and therefore immature, at least in terms of palate.) He’s clearly struggling to say nice things about women who don’t share his taste in alcohol (Look, a girl introduced me to the Beastie Boys!) but he can’t help but hold them in a minor kind of contempt.

It’s columns like this that give me complexes about the kind of cocktails I drink. If I’m out on a date or even just drinking with new male friends, I *always* freaking apologize for being a “girl drink drunk” as if it’s a personal character flaw that I should fix. If I feel the need to go neutral and not draw attention to my liquor choice I just order a diet-coke-and-rum, a nice non-gendered drink. But when I’m home its nothing but the girliest drinks I choose to make.

There are certain types of men who will judge women poorly because they only drink sweet cocktails or wine, but it just kind of sucks that non-sweet drinking is considered a kind of maturity and therefore there’s an implied immaturity to women who drink the girly drinking cocktails.

1 comment:

mental hygiene said...

The writer is the true idiot. What I think he is trying NOT to say is how tortured he is by his own machismo. Everybody knows men would love a "girly drink" instead of a Michelob, but they are too worried about what other men will think. Too bad for them. We, on the other hand, can drink whatever we want.