10/01/2013 04:08 GMT | Updated 11/03/2013 05:12 GMT

Sexism and Alcohol - Can We Say No Now, Please?


Guys like whisky, right? And girls like champagne? But of course, and similarly, a female drinker wants a fruity, red drink whilst the male imbiber needs something strong on the rocks. With a side of lager.

Unfortunately, ridiculous and outdated notions persist in the drinks world. Of course, there are still many bastions of prejudice out there, but the drinks world seems so intent on being out of touch. Perhaps it's because it gets treated like a juvenile by the government that it behaves like one, or because it is often steered by out of touch marketeers?

Not necessarily so. I've experienced first hand some truly incredible behaviour. I've had sommeliers refuse to address a wine to a female companion, or a bartender refuse to serve someone a particular drink (baffling). In the modern world surely one lesson that has repeatedly been displayed is that prejudice is plain idiocy- especially when enforcing a generalisation on top?

However, the blame lies with everyone. Not that people are conforming to generalisations - simply that they are not always thinking for themselves. It's amusing when someone trying to act all alpha-male refutes their fluffy pink drink ("Can I get that in a proper glass" etc). It always confused me - what are people expecting from a drink that lists raspberries, pineapple and hundreds and thousands - an old fashioned? If they're in doubt, they should just ask!

But here's the thing, there's a responsibility on both sides. Sure, the drinks world continues to create products and advertising that reflects a time I'm sure none of us want to return to, but similarly, we all should be a bit more switched on to our surroundings. In the same way that it struck me as odd to blame McDonalds for getting fat, it strikes me as odd when people blame a certain alcohol for getting them too drunk, or for a bitter amaro for tasting, well, bitter.

At the end of the day, good food and drink should be a luxury we enjoy. We no longer have to hunt and fight for sustenance so we should bask in this position and really enjoy it. This enjoyment requires a bit of mental application - and reflection. After the overindulgence of the festive period, I'm sure a few of us are feeling it!

In reference to this is a lower alcohol cocktail. It's something that a few years ago, people believed they were greeting ripped off for, but thankfully people have come round. Not only is it lighter all round, it's a great example of how alcohol can be a positive element to our lives. Perhaps instead of grumpily enduring the rush hour ride home, stop off for something that will relax and focus. Just one quick nibble of enjoyment- a far cry from the rounds of pints before staggering back for a lackluster, thrown-together dinner. This European-style little breather would do very well to be adopted here (think Aperitivo- Spritz, Americano, Bicycletta...). It'll set you up for dinner and give you a quiet moment after a hard day- without hitting you over the head! Here's one from my old menu at The Whistling Shop.

Civility Cocktail

30ml Lillet Blanc

30ml Martini Extra Dry

3ml Raspberry Syrup

2 dashes orange bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a small chilled glass. Sip slowly and feel good.