'Girl drinks': Women and whiskey - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

‘Girl drinks’: Women and whiskey

A fairly recent article in the Huffington Post basically said that I don’t need to be writing this article.  It has pronounced us all done talking about the fact that women drink whiskey.

Yeah, sorry, HuffPo.  I’m not done talking about it.

Until I order drinks with my husband at a restaurant and the server puts the Scotch in front of me and the cosmopolitan in front of him, I think we still need to talk about it.  (This has yet to happen correctly even once.)

Until I can order a double bourbon neat at a bar and not get any kind of eyebrow raise, approving or otherwise, I think we still need to talk about it.

Would it be weird to stick these in my whiskey?  They are kind of cute...

Would it be weird to stick these in my whiskey? They are kind of cute…

Until the phrase “girl drink” doesn’t mean something fruity with a pineapple slice and an umbrella and no discernable taste of alcohol, I think we still need to talk about it.

I would love to say that my propensity for whiskey has absolutely nothing to do with gender politics.  That I just like it.  But I have to ask myself whether or not that is really true.

I have always liked whiskey.  It was always my shot of choice if shots were happening.  I didn’t really have to work to acquire the taste for it.  Unlike beer, a taste I had to cultivate (possibly because I started out trying to cultivate a taste for truly horrific beer *cough*Coors Light*cough*), I liked whiskey the first time I tried it.  There was a time in my life when I might have ordered a cosmo or a gin and tonic at a bar.  But at some point, I transitioned to whiskey, and I haven’t looked back.

The initial transition was at least partly for the most gender political reason of all: I was on a diet.  And a shot of whiskey was only two Weight Watchers points (back in the olden, olden days of Weight Watchers.  It might be different now).  Compared to the 4 points or more for most craft beers and 5-15 points for mixed drinks, it seemed like a no-brainer.

I’m no longer on Weight Watchers, or any diet.  But the whiskey thing stuck.

Part of it is certainly that I like it.  No, I don’t like it.  I love it.  I love the way whiskey tastes.  I love the depth of it, the complexity.  I deeply appreciate the sweet burn, the finish in my nose.  I love to drink whiskey.

But there might be a second reason it appeals to me.

I remember the first (and only) time I drank whiskey, smoked a cigar, and played poker all at the same time.  It was an epiphany.  I can’t smoke cigars anymore for health reasons, so that was a one-time magical night.  But I swear, if cigars were good for you, I’d be sorely tempted to create a smoking room in my house somewhere with its own ventilation system.  And a kick-ass padded felt poker table.  And maybe a kegerator.  And leather chairs and stuff.

Yeah, it’s possible I have a teeny tiny propensity towards being “one of the guys.”

It’s not something I have ever really talked about before, but it makes me feel powerful to take cliché “guy stuff” and make it mine.  I don’t look like a guy or dress like a guy, but drinking whiskey and smoking cigars kind of ticks off the same “I am woman, hear me roar” box as bench pressing with free weights and a spotter instead of on the nice safe machines.

It’s like, I get to do what I love and feel like I am helping to break down gender stereotypes at the same time.  Win-win.

My signature mango margarita.  No syrups, no triple sec, just fruit, juice, and tequila.  Still more calories than whiskey.

My signature mango margarita. No syrups, no triple sec. Just fruit, juice, ice, and tequila. Still more calories than whiskey.

The truth is that most stereotypical “girl drinks” taste kind of gross to me.  I don’t like syrupy things or fake fruit flavors.  That Pucker stuff makes me want to hurl.  I enjoy mixed drinks made with high quality ingredients, but most “girl drinks” have at least one ingredient that I find cloying and barf-worthy.  But anyone who says that a frozen mudslide made with vanilla ice cream isn’t delicious is either lactose intolerant or lying to you.  It tastes like a boozy milkshake.  I mean, come on.  It’s a boozy milkshake! What’s not to love?

But it’s not something I would order.

OK, I might occasionally order it if it had the same number of calories as a shot of whiskey.  But I would roll my eyes at myself while I ordered it.  I would probably make some self-deprecating comment.  I would find it harder to own it.

What’s up with that?

An annoyingly persistent voice in the back of my head is asking if I like guy stuff because I have internalized the idea that men are more powerful than women.

What a horrifying thought.

And here’s another icky thought.  Why do “girl drinks” taste like children’s candy?  Why are these infantilized drinks with silly names and sillier ingredients associated with adult women?  Most adult women I know like high quality chocolates, not Nerd Rope and Fun Dip.  So why should their drinks taste like corn syrup and red #3?

I guess the question is whether drinking whiskey as a woman is a stereotype-breaking feminist act or tacit endorsement of a deep-rooted misogyny that man things are better than woman things?

Maybe both, a little bit.  And also neither.  Because it really just tastes better to me.

In the end, I’m just going to drink what I love.  Because I love it.  And when it comes down to it, nothing is more feminist than doing whatever you damn well please.


About the author

Pam Desmond

When Pam isn’t living some imaginary fabulous whiskey lifestyle, she can be found hanging at home in her PJs with her husband and school-aged twins, or driving her glamorous minivan shuttling the kids to dance and gymnastics. She also writes a blog focusing on self-love, body acceptance, and being a mom at Pam-a-rama ding dong. With the more lucrative half of her brain, she works as a statistician and scientific writer. Follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/whiskeypam) and Twitter (@pamdesmond)! Contact the author.

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