Watch the popular 2013 The World’s End and you’ll find a bunch of guys on a pub crawl drinking pints. Have a gander at the classic show Sex in the City and you’ll see women going for Martinis, Cosmopolitans, Appletinis, Manhattans, Bellinis…
A banal cultural comparison? Not quite. As per usual, our favourite programming has real-world influence.
A study by soft drink maker Ben Shaws shows that whereas men prefer efficiency when waited upon, women expect to be hosted by their bartender and guided through a drinking experience. The male sentiment is especially prevalent amongst those that frequent the same bar as they not only demand quick service but also that their bartender recognize them and their standard drink order. Women, however, expect entertainment and inspiration from their bartender and want to try new cocktails and concoctions.
Look back a bit further into recent history and the survey appears to hold water. The wine market really began to take off in the UK in the mid-1970s and eventually grabbed a sizable market share of the drinks market (33.8% in 2010). The boom was driven by women drinkers and wine remains the most popular drink amongst women today.
The Health Ministry has shown that cultural influences, especially Sex and the City, have led women to drink more cocktails and drink more in general. The Ministry spoke of the rise of a “Margarita culture” in a 2012 with the Evening Standard and spoke of the increased alcohol consumption amongst middle class women who averaged over 11 units per week vs. their working class complements who quaffed under 6 units per week.
The “Margarita culture” is backed up by professional bartenders in London - which now rivals New York as cocktail central - who will tell you that women are their primary customers for their cocktail menus.
Indeed, with the UK cocktail market increasing by 10% per year and spirits consumption on the rise as a percentage of all alcohol consumed while beer and wine consumption declines, it would appear that women are in fact leading innovation in the drinks market. Will men too trade in their pints for untraditional tipple?