Sometimes being a barman is like watching life through a one-way window. You become invisible and, suddenly, privy to conversations, altercations and integration like you'd experience nowhere else - and that's the reason a barman's confessions can be the most salacious of all.
Take the other day. Just a normal afternoon shift at the city bar where I'm pint puller to the great suited and booteds of our fair city. A party was expected for a late lunch in one of our private dining rooms. So far, so Monday-ne.
Group walks in, drinks ordered (Pinotage, foreign beers), the usual crowd. But with them was a young woman, laughing along with the banter and sipping on a lager.
Next round comes in, same drinks. She was still nursing her last pint but went in for another Peroni. I questioned her choice, "Nothing wrong with a lager; but just so you know we've got a cracking cocktails range", I said. She laughed.
"I drink lager because it makes me one of the boys!", she said. "It just makes my life easier". And what would happen if you went back with a cocktail? "They'd make a point of treating me like a woman".
Out of the ordinary? Nope. So here is my confession: too many women feel they need to drink like men. It's something we see time and time again at the bar, always the flick of the eye towards the other drinks being pulled and then the order for something meaty in a pint glass. When did this happen? What happened to girls being allowed to drink fruity cocktails? Is feminism now brandishing a pint glass rather than a bra?
I'm a barman, so naturally took this back to the barrel. Boozing has come on leaps and bounds - beers and the ale industry are embracing lighter, pale varieties and the growth in foreign lagers has made the pumps a fruiter place to be.
I asked every woman who ordered a pint or a bottle why the choice - only three I spoke to that shift said taste.
The rest? Their reasons ranged from fitting in (like Madame de Fitting In) to wanting to seem down to earth and approachable.
Since when did a drink convey what kind of person you are? Since when (well, bar drinking White Lighting in the park age 14) did drinking become a status thing to be in the cool gang? And since when did this mean women could only work with men or appeal to that guy by drinking a pint?
So, it being a quiet shift, I decided to turn the table on these misogynistic drink dictators who are making girls feel like they're only accepted with a foot-long in their hand.
Herewith, our run down of 'what men think their drink says about them' versus 'what women think,'
- Men think: 'I'm out for the night, I want a cocktail but need one that's not too girly.'
- Women think: 'Just order the pineapple one for Christ's sake - it's far nicer!'
- Men think: 'I read in Shortlist Euro beer is all the rage and I can drop in my story about being in Munich.'
- Women think: 'Yes, I do know the lime was originally put in the neck to keep the flies out.'
- Men think: 'Red wine = romance.'
- Women think: 'Red wine = stained teeth and lips, and a headache the next day.'
- Men think: 'It's Friday and I'm getting drrrrrunk. Look how fast I can down it!'
- Women think: 'You've now got dribble down your chin.'
Jack Williams works across Late Night London's 52 venues across the capital and the UK. This week he was at The Gable in Moorgate but you might just encounter him anywhere...
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