U.K. chain tests gender-neutral cocktails so dudes can order girly drinks in peace

Photo: Roxiller (iStock)

Last week, London-based restaurant chain Burger & Lobster tested a lineup of five colorless, nameless drinks. The goal: to make it possible for patrons to order the cocktail of their choice free from the scorn of their friends and neighbors who think it’s really funny that Darren decided to order a Cosmopolitan, bro. Like, what? Are you on your period, man? Were they out of wine coolers? Heh heh, sports!

Metro reports that the limited-time gender-neutral cocktail menu was tested at two locations; one used traditional cocktail names, one used numbers. The test was created in response to an in-house survey, which found that 21% of participants “don’t feel comfortable drinking certain cocktails as they feel they are better suited for the opposite gender” and 13% feel they’ve been ridiculed based on their beverage choice. Analysis of customer behavior at the restaurant also indicated that nearly a third of male customers “were opposed to ordering a Cosmopolitan or Piña Colada, because the name of the cocktails felt ‘feminine,’” while 11% of female patrons had a similar hesitation around ordering Negronis or Old Fashioneds.

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One might suggest that perhaps the bigger issue is that 30-ish percent of men are basing their drink orders on what seems manly instead of what tastes good, and that perhaps this go-get-’em energy might be better spent addressing the idea that something perceived as inherently feminine is somehow bad. One might also wonder why on earth the “masculine” cocktails are just standard classic cocktails, but you gotta start somewhere.

And hey, it got results. At the locations that used names for the cocktails, the White Cosmopolitan was only selected by 5% of patrons, while the location that called it simply “the number one” sold four times as many.

Still, we suspect making the world a less colorful, more boringly named place isn’t the best way to combat toxic masculinity. Perhaps the next experiment could focus on encouraging everyone to order whatever the hell they want, provided they drink responsibly, or on educating the bar-going public on the fact that people who make fun of them for ordering “girly” drinks or “manly” Negronis (seriously, what?) are terrible friends who should stop being terrible.

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About the author

Allison Shoemaker

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.