In all my years tending bar and observing people in bar-type settings, I have learned and discovered quite a few things. First, it always helps to have a degree in psychology and counseling. Ever since I could remember, I've had a fascination and keen interest in human behavior and cognition, especially as it applies to the drinking environment. Second, working in many different bars, restaurants, and owning your own bar business has afforded me the opportunity to conduct research and gather evidence pertaining to how people behave, specifically from drink #1 to last call. Below you will discover my findings, and ,although not an exact science, these observations about people's drinking personalities when it comes to beer, wine, and cocktails are pretty spot on. Don't be offended if you find yourself in one of these categories 1) It's for fun, but there are some truths! 2) We all probably resemble some or many of these traits at some point in our lives in and out of the bar environment. I could probably write a book just on this topic alone. Word of advice for those who were, are, and will be my customers, be mindful of what you order, you just may be labeled haha! Enjoy one of my true bar stories below. I believe that bartenders are truly the highest evolution of the species - you will see why?
People are generally different, curious, and intelligent.
Almost every bar has their assortment of handcrafted, unique cocktails, but many differ on the quality of those cocktails. People who try these cocktails are often experimenting with new drinks and want to explore their options. People who like trying things, and being exposed to new experiences, are often more intelligent and creative than those who do not prefer novelty.
What you order at a bar—and how you order it—says a lot about you as a person. Those of us who serve these drinks have learned to crack the code a bit, and can form relatively sophisticated opinions about what you like and don't like before you've finished your first round.
Once, I was working the bar on a Friday night when a gentleman walked in, briefly scanned my cocktail list, and asked for a Grey Goose with tonic. I have nothing against the vodka tonic. When I'm three deep at the bar, a round of highballs can be a life-preserver. Your Manhattan or Martini will take three minutes, at a minimum if prepared properly. Your vodka tonic will take twenty seconds. Cocktails might be what keep people coming in the doors, but basic highballs fund those doors staying open in the first place.
That said, vodka tonic drinkers are like jilted lovers - they've often had brief relationships with other spirits in the past, and walked away feeling scarred and skittish. Reluctant to open old wounds, they have trained their palates to crave neutrality. The phrase I hear most often is, "I don't want to taste the alcohol." In effect, they want the punch, but not the flavor.
I don't especially blame them. Many of us learn about alcohol in college - at bars where quantity trumps quality, and the goal is to drink as much as possible on limited resources. When people say, "I don't like gin," they usually mean, "I don't like cheap gin." Blended scotch is a beautiful thing, but some blended scotch tastes like cough medicine.
In this man's case, he not only asked for vodka, but Grey Goose specifically. The big vodka companies have been incredibly effective at establishing brand-loyalty. They have to be. When your product is legally defined as being colorless, tasteless, and odorless, you must rely on packaging and perception to win your slice of the imbibing public.
Grey Goose drinkers see themselves as elite. They'll spend a few extra dollars on a product that they perceive as being superior. You want colorless? My brand is crystal clear. You want tasteless? It practically disappears before it hits the back of your throat. A chilled shot of Grey Goose tastes like a tiny little glass of cold water. The fact that it also gets you drunk allows you to participate in the process without the danger of waking the Ghost of Sophomore Year.
Back to our gentleman –Ten minutes later, a young woman joined him, and it was clear from the beginning that this was a first date. Yes, we who serve you at the bar know what you're up to.
Without hesitation, the woman ordered Knob Creek Bourbon neat, and I knew our man was in trouble. The fate of their evening was in jeopardy, and only quick thinking on the man's part would salvage it to anyone's satisfaction.
While bartenders do notice what goes on between people who sit at our bars, we generally try not to eavesdrop. I don't know how their conversation went, but it was pretty clear that things were not going well. When it came time for a second round, she moved to a Maker’s Mark Old Fashioned. He chose Chardonnay. She looked to me for commiseration, and I knew there would be no third round.
His mistake was one of branding, only this time he was not branding a vodka, but himself. The picture he chose to paint for his potential paramour was one of safety and neutrality. Vodka tonic with lime is the drink of someone who wants to conceal taste, like steak sauce on a steak. Her response, bourbon neat, should have told him in no uncertain terms that she was in the market for a more visceral experience.
His further choice of Chardonnay, any old Chardonnay, indicated that he was in no way interested in what he was drinking, but veered toward what he perceived to be the least-offensive option. Hers said that she was willing to move a bit further in his direction, while still maintaining her standards of taste and quality.
I bear vodka no ill will, but I often encourage people to move beyond it. Not because it is bad, but because many people choose vodka in a highball or cocktail out of fear for the alternative. This man's sin was less forgivable, and was the one that tanked his date: not caring about what you drink at all in a dating situation.
After the second round, I brought the couple their check and the man paid it. He rose to leave, but she stayed in her chair when he headed for the door. I asked if there was anything else I could do for her, and she replied, "I think I could use some more bourbon." I completely understood why. TRUE STORY
This person enjoys the finer things in life and luxury. They are somewhat concerned with appearance and status. They are usually in the upper-middle to lower-upper class depending on how they critique the wine list. They are in no hurry and usually relaxed, not boisterous or loud or on edge. They are generally conservative, classy, and sophisticated, yet giggles on occasion. If you’re trying to pick her up, tell her you love to travel and spend quiet evenings with friends. Tell her that you wish Reagan had four more years. These characteristics don’t include Rose or White Zinfandel. You’re mature and discerning, and you’re likely an organized professional. You tend to be unadventurous and less likely to take risks. Chances are good you’ve graduated from college. Men drink it to be more appealing and well-cultured to the ladies.
From a girl’s perspective - Any man drinking wine is my kind of guy. It takes a refined pallet to really enjoy this beverage and says a lot about the person drinking it. A man or a woman who knows how to properly pair wine with food has talent and tons of finesse. They have a certain sexy and sophisticated way about them. I also associate wine with someone who is a little mysterious and dark. Any of you who read “50 Shades of Grey” get where I’m going with this, but wine is definitely a little bit of a romantic aphrodisiac. The wine drinker is sexy, mysterious, tasteful and pure class.
Wine can convey many messages. To many, it's a sophisticated drink no matter what type you order. To others, wine can suggest a different meaning. Let's see what the different types of wine reveals -
White Wine – Trying to be sophisticated, but falling slightly short
All wine comes with an air of sophistication, Wine is naturally an educated person’s drinks. Sommeliers take years to perfect the understanding of wine and all of its intricate flavors. However, white wine lacks the complexity and aromas of red wine, and therefore, it is often associated with being easier to drink and beginner friendly. Many girls especially prefer the softer flavors of white wine and thus will drink it as a symbol of sophistication while not being a true connoisseur.
Typically, this is ordered by women who don't really know what to drink. It's still got a fruity taste, but it is something you can sip for most of the night if you want to avoid drinking too much. Examples -
- Chardonnay – You know what you like. Boring and predictable. The Missionary Position of White Wine.
- Pinot Grigio – You’re pretentious or don’t know what you like. You follow the herd. May be bisexual.
Red Wine – Like white wine, red wine emanates sophistication. The complex flavors and aromas can take years to understand, and the sometimes exorbitant prices can make wine a true luxury drink. However, drinking wine at a bar or a club when everyone else is drinking cocktails can come off as condescending or snobby. It’s like coming to a house party dressed in a tuxedo — most times, you don’t want to be that person.
People who drink red wine often want to seem sophisticated. Some of them are, some aren't. You can learn a lot by watching how someone holds their wine glass and drinks their wine. Example:
- Pinot Noir – You’ve seen the movie “Sideways”. Enough said.
Blush Wine/White Zinfandel – These people aspire to culture and refinement, but have not yet figured out how to attain it. With hope, in five years they will look back on their consumption of it and cringe in embarrassment.
People who order blush or white zinfandel in a restaurant are not typically wine drinkers. They really have no idea what is good or not-so-good when ordering wine.
Champagne – You’re reserved, classy, or a stripper.
Prosecco – Like champagne, but a dry sparkling wine from Italy made from chardonnay grapes. You're often a little uptight, but tonight you're looking to party.
Order a brew, and people will see you as simple, casual, laid-back, easy going, down to earth, and low maintenance. This person is totally uncomplicated and not worried how old the scotch is. It’s an easy decision for them. They are usually men in their mid-30s to 50s (blue collar) and definitely have their favorite labels or a guy in their 20s who is cost-conscious and in college. The message is the same – I’m just hanging out. They may be decked out in suits (young professionals), but are well-versed in living within their means. Quite often, they are middle to lower-middle class. Women who order beer come off as being sexy and approachable and up for a game of pool. I think a girl wearing a nice t-shirt and jeans while drinking a beer is quite sexy.
A man orders a beer at a cocktail bar = Overprotective of your manhood or unadventurous.
Generally, beer drinkers don’t want to get drunk. They just want to sit and talk with friends and not end up with a headache in the morning. The type of beer can also be important.
Domestic Beer: Boring, unsophisticated, simple-minded. Domestic beer is what most people grew up with at home and in college. It’s a symbolic beer that represents frat parties and family barbecues. It’s what your dad drank when he first introduced you to beer — there’s something familiar, and yet boring about it. Those who drink it want to perhaps seem down-to-earth, low maintenance, or very casual. Examples: Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling Lager, Michelob Ultra, Coors Light.
You’re sensible, grounded, and practical. You’re generally middle-of-the-road in your politics, and quick to challenge authority. You’re also 42 percent more likely than the average man to own a truck. “It’s the cheapest option, and often has the least amount of alcohol, so these guys are trying to pace themselves, booze-wise and financially,” says Jaclyn Clever, a bartender at the Grand Traverse Yacht Club in Traverse City, Michigan.
You’re impulsive and quick to take risks. You’re respectful of authority, accepting of most people, and generally easy to get along with. You’re also 34 percent less likely than the average man to buy organic. “I think guys order light beer because it’s a comfortable order for them,” says Rich Colli, bartender at Varga Bar in Philadelphia. Beth Stevens, who bartends at Pilot Pete’s in Chicago, calls light beer the “simple man’s drink.”
Craft / Imported Beer: At a step above domestic beer, imported beer gives off a hint of sophistication, while still seeming down to earth and casual. It’s also a way for people not from the U.S.to associate with their roots and literally provides a taste of home. The lower alcohol content of beer and its malty taste adds to its relaxing and calming feelings. Thus it becomes a drink of choice for those who want to take it easy at night.
You’re more likely to be politically left, outgoing, and extroverted. You’re intellectually curious and open-minded, and you’re interested in new and varied experiences. You’re 36 percent more likely to enjoy the show The Office, according to a Mindset survey of 2,600 drinkers.
Examples - Stella Artois, Blue Moon, Heineken, Dogfish, Hop Devil, Sweet Baby Jesus, Hoegaarden (my favorite), Troegs
Beer drinkers are down to earth, nice types who are either broke, or just out to relax and have a good time. They like sports and outdoor concerts, but they hate deep discussions about the state of the world. If you happen to drink one of those microbrews or designer beers, you are not actually a beer drinker. You are an imposter. Go grab your cocktail and leave the beer to the real men and women.
Guinness or Stouts (dark irish beer): A hardcore beer enthusiast who is no nonsense and no frills. May brag of Irish descent. Very low in calories even though it looks heavy. Actually has fewer calories than skim milk.