During last week’s brouhaha about the Yale SWUG article, the discussion at Dalrock’s place veered towards the poor taste in alcohol among college kids. Leap of a Beta opened it up with this:
Gotta h/t both Badger and Vox on the wine tip originally. Tried it for awhile after they pointed out beer being a drink of the peasants. I find I get more attention and don’t feel as sluggish without the carbs, which is worth a few extra dollars a drink. Depending on mood I now alternate between a red wine and johnny walker black on the rocks. I enjoy both and get comments almost every time I order.
He is referencing these posts by me (on avoiding the brotastic beer shield) and Vox Day (where he refers to beer drinkers as “peasants“), and he’s following up on an excellent point: in America at least, there’s a class distinction communicated by the alcohol you drink. Thus, you can quickly and easily raise your apparent social status by ordering better stuff.
Put simply, the social status ranking goes like this: light-colored beers < dark-colored beers < stiff cocktails < red wine.
Straw-colored beers are, as Vox says, a peasant drink, that communicate “I got the cheapest thing on the menu” or “I don’t want any flavor in my beer” or worse yet “I let corporate beer ads on network TV tell me what to drink.” (In some cases they’ve tried to turn the status-basement marker into a positive; the relatively swilly Pabst Blue Ribbon has been adopted by the hipsters of Portland and Washington DC as a symbol of retro cachet. I suppose they are retaking the word “swill” a la another recent movement.)
A few things you should just avoid: white wine has a fastidious connotation unless paired with food, flamboyant cocktails (brightly-colored or served in the conical martini-style glass) lack a certain strength and at least should be ordered in a low glass, and shots or shooters say “college douchebag” in big bright letters.
I expect to get some comments on this post along the lines of “dude this is so stupid, something as superficial as what I’m drinking at the bar isn’t going to affect whether women are attracted to me,” a criticism I pre-emptively cited in the Beer Shield post. First, if your game sucks, you need to make progress on a whole bunch of incremental factors, and drinking better (as well as holding the drink better) is a zero-behavior-cost move helps internalize a higher-value frame and stokes the confidence and aloof mastery that makes things work. Second, it belittles women to call these things “superficial.” Surely, men aren’t going to make a big deal judging each other for their drinks. But just as surely, women notice and value a host of factors that men dismiss amongst themselves. That’s in fact one of the fundamental lessons of game, that being successful with women is largely a different arena than earning the respect of other men.
(Incidentally, and this is always worth talking about, what women say they value as attractive in men is very frequently at odds with what truly turns them on, for a large number of reasons including subconsciously-programmed mating strategy protection. Thus, the men who have tried to reject the boorish advice of their mates and substitute that of women have often found themselves simply getting more emotive, not more attractive. The advice they get from most other men is simply outside the arena of what women value, while the advice they get from a woman is the output of a game of telephone from her hindbrain through the rationalization hamster and maybe through a few magazine or book editors as well. There are ways to become more interesting and emotionally in tune with women without becoming girly and unvirile in the female’s eyes; I’ve covered it before in this post.)
In addition to the class marker that is the drink in your hand, drinking the right thing provides a great opportunity for the type of storytelling that is the hallmark of the accomplished gamesman. Anything from “this is the drink that got us through prohibition” (anything with gin) to “this drink is the object of much national pride in Bermuda” (dark and stormy) to “this is a modern version of the first cocktail in history” (mojito), the opportunities to light up a woman’s mind with fascinating discussion of the drinks, their regionalities, and their histories are manifold.
So with all of that said, how does a man become better at expressing social value through his drinks? On the same Dalrock thread, longtime Manosphere commenter Anonymous Reader chimed in with some detailed commentary.
Leap, the wine/beer bifurcation is old as the hills but still works. A few minutes with Wiki, or a copy of “Wine Spectator” once in a while and you’re good to go to talk with almost anyone in a bar, and a lot of people in a restaurant. When dining with a woman don’t even let her see the wine list, it’s your property and she should not trouble her head about it. One way to provide a bit of entertainment: ponder the list with furrowed brow, and then choose the least expensive red by the glass. But for bonus points, ponder and then pick something unusual by the glass. If it’s good, then just bask in your success. If it’s crummy plonk, then dismiss the error as an experiment, a bad year, a bad bottle… For the record, the Argentinian Malbec wines have become very good in the last few years, as have the wines from Chile, most of which come from the Maipo valley. Some places sell these by the glass at cost comparable to California CabSav’s, but you get the mystery of South American wine vs. Napa valley.
The storytelling potential of the wine list should whet the appetite of any fledgling gamester.
Another dodge is “gin and ginger ale” if you are not making a statement, because after one or two you can switch to “ginger ale” but your glass looks the same as before. Nobody knows what you are drinking. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King…
I have to say I’ve never had the need to feign that I’m drinking alcohol when I’m not. I simply stop drinking and don’t apologize for it, and it’s been an important screening test to find women who can have one or two drinks without having to go any further. A surprisingly number of young people are still hung over from college and haven’t learned to drink in moderation.
Drinking stuff straight up or on the rocks can make a pretty good point, depending on what’s en vogue. Drinking something that isn’t what everyone else is slamming can be a real DHV, if played properly. Seems like everyone is hitting some flavored vodka or other nowadays, so something else is in order. A real-deal Martini can be good stuff, if good gin is used (and if you like gin…), but you have to play with the drink rather than slam it down, in a social setting. Mojito’s used to be fun to drink before they became the new frozen dacqueri. The only place I drink them now is if I”m in Arizona or south Texas or some other hot place where they make sense.
Especially with Mad Men being so popular, there’s a lot of cachet to a classic mixed cocktail. If you’re drinking hard alcohol, I recommend you avoid gin-and-tonics and something-and-cokes as they are pedestrian and “safe” and don’t really lend a man a distinctive look.
If you are used to drinking wine, then here’s another angle: cognac. First of all, it’s not that common, and it still has a bit of a cache’. Just ordering it can be a bit of a DHV. Second, you can nurse a snifter of cognac for up to an hour and most barmaids/waitresses/bartenders won’t hassle you. During that same time, everyone else has slammed down three beers or whatevers… Third, you can from time to time put on a bit of a show about having it warmed up for you, to some proper temperature or other. Bonus: if the cigar scene is still around in some cities, that’s one of the standard drinks to go with the stogie, and that helps you to fit in. Know the diff between VS and VSOP, and you are way ahead of most bar crowds.
Cognac is brandy produced in southwestern France (it has to be from that region to be labeled Cognac, pronounced CONE-yack); brandy itself is distilled wine. Cognac is a bit like whiskey but it is much smoother and softer in flavor. If you listen to Tupac Shakur, Hennessy is a type of cognac (although I personally prefer Courvoisier).
VS and VSOP are age/flavor grades of cognac; VSOP is older and higher-quality than VS, with XO (“extra old”) being the highest grade.
Also don’t forget about cognac’s French-native cousin armagnac, which tends to be more rustic and provincial in character. As AR mentions cigars, remember also that most nice restaurants will have a cognac flight in their dessert drinks menu. It can go down a lot easier than a sweetened dessert wine.
Finally, AR gets into the meat of the issue:
Really interesting mixed drinks exist, such as the sidecar, the French 75, Sazerac, and many others that can be found in older bar books, or on the web… but few bartenders know how to mix them outside of really big cities anymore. Even the plain old Manhattan cocktail is often just bourbon on the rocks with a dash of bitters and a tiny coloration of vermouth – that’s a bourbon “Mantini”, not a Manhattan. So know your bartender’s limits in mixology, unless you are personally willing to teach them how to pour and mix for you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you can work that into a routine if you wish, that enables you to DHV in a genteel way.
Sadly, I’ve found what he says is true: lots of bartenders are just waiters behind the bar, and don’t know how to make many (if any) standard cocktails. Many times I’ve had a bartender try to bluff me away from a drink he doesn’t know how to make with a face-saving maneuver like “we don’t have any bitters;” if I tell him that’s fine and to make the drink without it, I get a disastrous suicide cocktail without fail.
A bartender who can make at least a basic set of cocktails can be a real ally in the game; the DHV of ordering a special drink and watching it get theatrically made for you, and then being able to wax poetic on the on the contents of the drink and its history and its mood and vibe – that stuff is chick crack. If your bar guy can’t make you a Manhattan worth a damn, just order a red wine and spin a story about the region from which it came. You’ll be miles ahead of the regular bros sucking on the necks of their Bud Lights.