The Patriarchy Wants You Sober

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The New York Times has a great and important essay on the most vile form of discrimination known to modern humanity: the sexist pour.

A few weeks ago I settled down at the bar at Lombardi's for the inevitable table wait for one of those sublime pizzas and ordered my drink. My husband ordered the same thing. I watched as the bartender filled two tall glasses with ice. He poured bourbon into the first glass, a healthy amount, then squirted some soda on top. In the second glass he poured the bourbon and soda simultaneously, rendering it the color of a weak ginger ale. Guess which one was mine?

If you can do so without smashing a martini glass into the monitor, read the whole thing. And as long as New York is exerting dictatorial control over the city's restaurants, how about a Title IX for booze?

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  1. Hell, come to Tucson. The local watering holes I go to love getting chicks drunk at 3 bucks a pop

  2. You know, I was going to use some rational choice theory to get all up-ons this…but then I realized that this lady has way too much goddamn time on her hands and just needs something to complain about. Next week it will be that “girl’s bikes” are smaller and have pink ribbon on the wheels.

  3. Just sue the ************ for everything he’s got.

  4. The Patriarchy Wants You Sober

    I guess fraternities aren’t part of the patriarchy, then.

  5. I read the article, and here’s what I came away with “I’m a lush who can’t enjoy a meal without at least a strong buzz. Unfortunately, because I’m a woman, the evil patriarchy makes it hard for me to get soused.”

  6. Perhaps there is an acutal difference in the median prefered drink strength? If equally strong drinks tend to result in women frequently asking for more soda added to tone it down a bit and men grubbling about weak drinks, different default strengths make sense.

    And if you typically find you drinks on the weak side, just tell the bartender you like yours strong – they typically will comply unless you’re a stingy tipper.

    (I didn’t RTFA since NYT isn’t recognizing email address, so disregard any inappropriate points).

  7. THOREAU-

    Amen. I thought the patriarchy was always trying to get women drunk to take advantage of them. I’m sorry, but these hardcore paleo-feminists need to get a life. You guys won all the big battles 30 years ago. Move on.

  8. Seriously, Manly Men, I fail to see where all the vitriol is coming from.

    “Next week complain about girls bikes…”? Well, no. Alex W writes a times article about food and food experiences about once a month. It’s pretty much always about food and entertaining and socializing with respect to meals.

    “a lush who can’t enjoy a meal”? Ok, whatever. Having a cocktail while waiting for a table is pretty darned standard. That’s why the nice hostess will often suggest one waits in the bar (that’s where they serve drinks) while a table is being prepared.

    “median prefered drink strength”. Well, maybe …maybe… It seems to me that when I eat out, and I want a food or drink item prepared a little differently from everyone else in my party, I mention it. For example, I say “No dressing, please” or “I like my salmon rare”. I have never had to say “well, you notice here how my gender differs from that of the other person ordering this particular item. While that might lead you to expect I want it with more blood (or an umbrella, take your pick), I would prefer that my meal is prepared in accordance with the standards usually applied to the opposite sex”.

    So, here’s how I see it – the lady orders a drink. Give her a drink. If she orders a girls’ drink. Give her a girls’ drink.

  9. I meant to say you gals.

  10. jesus.

    what a freaking typical NYC testy smug bitch.

    [I’ve lived here my whole life, so I am allowed to say that]

    I’ve also been drinking makers mark bourbon for 15 or so years. I hardly ever get served properly either.

    Last night I was poured thrice and each time it came back different. Why? Bartenders are busy and generally hired for their good looks, not their professional ability. She’s neurotically assuming the drink world is sexist. What BS. Her and dowd should get wasted together and complain to each other about how no one appreciates their independence.

    Drinking bourbon with soda is not exactly chest-hair bragworthy anyway. Her ‘portions’ are undersized? I can hardly find a bartender who’ll cover the @#$*& rocks in a teeny tumbler for $7. Plus 30% of the time the bourbon is already watered. This is NYC, mind you. If i go to decent hotels on business and order one, christ they bring you a bowl, and it’s actually not diluted. But NYC yuppie eateries? forget it, they dont know how to pour whiskey. Big deal. She turns this into an opportunity to flaunt her ununique perception of her own uniqueness.

    JG

  11. what isn’t in the article was how ugly she looks…the bartender was only easing the pain of her poor husband.

  12. If the wife & myself order a drink before dinner, even if the Mrs orders a martini (always some sweet concotion), she will have trouble finishing it before the food arrives. On the other hand, I prefer a very dry martini or straight bourbon with one ice cube and will be ordering my with dinner drink before the salad shows up. I think the bartender played the odds. Men do, I’ll wager, on average prefer stiffer drinks than the ladies. After some time as a bartender, one probably goes with the averages.
    Of course, it must suck to be a lady who likes her drinks stiff. (Work that last sentence – it’s pregnant with some puns.)

  13. Might this be an unintended consequence of the “dram shop” laws? Women tend to get drunker, faster, for equal amounts of alcohol drunk as quickly, than men do. Making a weaker drink may be the bartender’s methos of making sure his female customers don’t get “overserved,” and sued for it. Of course, if they are making “ladies’ portions” they should be open about it, and not charge as much as they do for a full-on he-man drink. That would be bad for business, as would selling fewer, standard-strength drinks to the gals at the same prices they get for the watered ones.

    I wonder if these joints have a history of getting complaints from female customers that their drinks were made too strong?

    Kevin

  14. i wonder if there is EVER any article or editorial or opinion piece that doesn’t make conservatives more conservative, liberals more liberal, misogynists more misogynist, and feminists more feminist.

    -cab

  15. “‘a lush who can’t enjoy a meal’? Ok, whatever. Having a cocktail while waiting for a table is pretty darned standard. That’s why the nice hostess will often suggest one waits in the bar . . . while a table is being prepared.”

    Actually, I would say that the hostess “suggests one” because liquor is absurdly overpriced at the retail drink level, not because it’s “pretty darned standard”. Indeed, if it was “standard” that people ordered them, the hostess wouldn’t have to prompt people to request one, now would she?

  16. The fucking bottle ran dry on the second drink and I was too busy to get a fresh one right then and there. Boo Hoo. Where’s my tip?

    love,
    yr hmbl barkeep

  17. Having now RTFA, I have to agree that the author is accurately characterized as a “lush who can’t enjoy a meal without a strong buzz”. Check out this passage:

    But too weak a drink, and the dinner doesn’t ignite. No one’s getting into the spirit, coveting that great bottle of wine or that aromatic yet severely overpriced steak for two that looks so great at the next table. You’re too busy trying to wave down a waiter to get a second drink because the first one didn’t take.

    If that isn’t from the mouth of someone with at least a mild drinking problem, I don’t know what is.

  18. Now, if we could only have cigarettes.

    Hey! A feminist whine article I don’t completely disagree with!

    But seriously, there might be a perfectly rational explanation, like the “median preferred drink strength” idea. If she wants more bourbon in her bourbon, she should say so and not get all angsty on us.

  19. I second those who said that the bartenders in question are most likely just serving drinks in the way that the average customer likes them. If she wants hers stronger than the average woman does, she should just order it that way. “Give me a Maker’s and soda, and don’t skimp on the Maker’s” works. So does “Give me a Makers on the rocks with just a splash of soda.” Is this too difficult?

  20. “Give me a Maker’s and soda, and don’t skimp on the Maker’s” works. So does “Give me a Makers on the rocks with just a splash of soda.” Is this too difficult?

    It is kinda difficult after the first few.
    “gimme makershmar shplash teh soder. tanks.”

  21. All the women I know are always complaining to the men I know about how we never go to their favorite bar. The men don’t like going because they claim the bar doesn’t put any alcohol in their drinks. The women don’t have that problem — it’s either that they’re getting served a normal amount of alcohol, they like their liquor without alcohol, or they drink beer.

    The profit margins on drinks are pretty ridiculous. I can pay $5 to have half the alcohol that I can get in a bar next door for $1.25. Selling the alcohol at $1.25 an ounce results in about $75 of revenue for alcohol that costs about $25.

  22. As a female bourbon drinker I can relate, but as someone who worked in food service jobs for many years, I know it’s not anything to get miffed about. Just let ’em know you don’t like a weak drink.

    Her annoyance is much like mine when I order a coke in a restaurant. 8/10 times, I get a diet coke instead. It’s because women, on average, tend to order diet sodas which leads the waitstaff to miss part of what I said, or forget what I said. But knowing those people have a lot of details to attend to, and not preferring to get myself wrought up over small things, I just don’t let it get to me.

  23. Just say, “Gif me a visky, ginger ale on the side, and don’ be stingy, baby.”

  24. Well, you New Yorkers who supported smoking bans ought to know that the same group RWJF is also funding alcohol prohibition efforts…..if you didn’t stand up against smoking bans I have no sympathy for you.

    http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2005/11/beware-next-ban.html

  25. Well, I didn’t stand up against the NY smoking ban. But somehow I’m not quaking in my boots about them banning alcohol anytime soon.

    Interesting aside, I don’t know a single New Yorker, those who are smokers, self-professed libertarians, or both, who isn’t pleased with the smoking ban. As a libertarian (but not a smoker), I of course hate it philosophically, but damned if it isn’t great to not smell like an ashtray whenever I get home, and to not have to wash all my clothes after one wearing.

    It’s an interesting philosophical problem: (1) if people really want non-smoking bars, the market should provide them as a matter of course; (2) Prior to the ban, unless I’m mistaken, there were zero non-smoking bars in NY; (3) 95% of NYers (as far as I can tell) are ecstatic that you can’t smoke in bars. So why didn’t any spring up before the ban? Discuss.

  26. This is discrimination. The same could happen based on age (reverse age discrimination, most likely) or other criteria that might make the bartender think you don’t need as stiff a drink as the next, uh , guy. Sex aside, maybe your a guy who is 5 foot 6 and 130 pounds. I take this seriously. Really. Women are getting financially screwed. They are getting maybe 40 – 60% of the product men are getting, while laying out the same $$$. They’re paying to get hammered, but only getting alittle bubbly. To arms! WTF?

    I like to get all up in arms over something. The war in Iraq doesn’t do it. Excessive taxation – not really, I just pay it. Prisoner torture and lack of refutable evidence presented in a court of law doesn’t get me going. Gotta start somewhere! (I am kidding, but I really do a have a mild self-admitted blind-patriotism block at times. Isn’t patriotism, by definition, blind?))

    Maybe the pragmatic free-market solution, but one that should be unnecessary, is letting the bartender know up front the tip is proportionate to the strength, er make that “quality” of the cocktail.

    Feminists can go on and on about discrepancies in rate of pay, glass ceilings, harrassment, etc., until they are blue in the face. But this is the issue that will get joe six-pack watch-the-race-this-Saturday on their side. Especially after a few beers. (like I’ve had tonight. Can you tell? Maybe not – spell checker corrected about ten errors in this post…at least I’m sober enough to know I needed it)

  27. the median preferred strength theory may be rational, but it would only be fair if the drink in question cost proportionately less.

  28. Well, in the inverse, I never get any roofies poured into my drink and I don’t think that’s fair at all!

  29. brian24

    The reason is that when a bar switches to being non-smoking, it generally loses business. The smokers driven out are not replaced by non-smokers.

    Most bars are dependent on reputation for repeat custom to stay afloat and generally the owner of a bar owns one (or at most 2 bars). Since reputation takes time to build, and can be destroyed in a few days, most are unwilling to risk their businesses on an experiment that is widely expected to fail.

    Of course the real problem is barriers for entry into the market. The organized crime rackets make exorbinant demands under the cover of “health inspections” and “permits to serve alcohol”, “business taxes” and the like. A gunman for the vicious gang known as the NYPD can shut your business down for violating “vice laws”. You also have to deal with rival gangs like the ATF, “regulators” working for an Albany based racket calling itself “The State Government of New York”, not to mention smaller but no less dangerous gangs like the Cosa Nostra and the like.

    In the end, since it is hard to recover from a loss, the margins are low, and starting up again somewhere else is almost impossible, it it any wonder they don’t risk their businesses?

  30. The reason is that when a bar switches to being non-smoking, it generally loses business

    Not really. Not in NYC. Most places that were already popular still are, and dives are still dives, but people just smoke on the street. It just modified behaviour very slightly, but didnt put scads of people out of business.

    Doesnt mean i support it, but as B mentioned, it hasnt been a pain in the ass or damaging to business per se.

    JG

  31. Interesting aside, I don’t know a single New Yorker, those who are smokers, self-professed libertarians, or both, who isn’t pleased with the smoking ban.

    Well, you don’t know me, or 5 or 6 of my close friends who smoke. Our reactions range from indifference to mild anger. In fact, of everyone I know who is pleased about the smoking ban, not one is either a smoker or a libertarian.

    95% of NYers (as far as I can tell) are ecstatic that you can’t smoke in bars.

    Tyranny of the… oh, forget it.

    Doesnt mean i support it, but as B mentioned, it hasnt been a pain in the ass or damaging to business per se.

    We don’t really know that, because all the statistics are muddled by mixing in restaurants (where smoking had been illegal for a few years already) with bars.

  32. I of course hate it philosophically, but damned if it isn’t great to not smell like an ashtray whenever I get home, and to not have to wash all my clothes after one wearing.

    You wear clothes a second time? Olfactory pollution! There oughta be a law! I’ll have my contacts in Albany get right on that.

    This reminds me of when our federal representatives were spending their valuable time in a committee hearing questioning serving sizes on soft drinks. Then current label markings indicated a can contained two servings.

    “Obviously,” Rep Blowhard thundered, “a can of soda is one serving. How dare Coca Cola mislead the public?

    Obviously he hasn’t met my daughter the bartender, who with a bucket of ice can easily pour four $2.00 servings from a 12 oz. can.

  33. belle,

    Exactly – that’s why if you get a weak drink and the bartender won’t bump it up a bit if asked, you’re justified in giving him/her a lousy tip. Bars have pretty poor portion standardization in general (excluding the ones with those infernal flowmeters on the bottles) and the alcohol cost is only a fraction of the drink price, so they have no excuse not to correct it if asked. Plus, setting a gender-dependent drink price poses its own set of problems. I think random variation actually accounts for far more difference in drink strength than gender, but if if there is a trend, that may be what’s underpinning it.

  34. If it had been obvious that the female was paying, then the bartender would have given her more. It’s not sexism, it’s payerism (is that a word?).

    Oh, and the weak drink probably contained what the restaurant management thinks ought to be the standard pour. So she didn’t get ripped off. The dude got some extra.

  35. I’ve found that the biggest single factor in drink strength is pheromones. Maybe all her male bartenders were gay…?

  36. Oh, and the weak drink probably contained what the restaurant management thinks ought to be the standard pour. So she didn’t get ripped off. The dude got some extra.

    If that were the case, I think I would find the situation *more* annoying if I were her. (Don’t feed me that “growing boy” line, either. It’s alcohol, and he’s a grown man.) I agree that if women’s drinks are going to be served weaker, their cost should be graded accordingly.

  37. So who got the weak drink? Seems like the bars would want to make the women a little more loose, which of course would bring the guys in droves. Is there really a sexist pour?

  38. Typical “everything wrong that happens to me is because of my particular hangup”. Hey, I’m a guy, and I still get the wrong drink or a badly mixed drink all the time. (Pet peeve: when I said “whiskey and water”, I did not say “and ice”, and if you weren’t sure, you should have asked.) She basically says “But I’m a woman and it happens all the time and never to the guys!” but anybody over the age of 8 or so knows that if you’re looking to be offended, you usually find what you want, facts be damned. I mean, check out the second sentence in the third paragraph: “These days, I order it in a tall glass to ensure that the ratio of booze to soda gives me a fighting chance of getting to the appetizer without falling out of my chair.” That is, she’s complaining that she used to get too strong a drink? And that she gets too weak a drink? Whatever.

    brian24 – that’s actually a really good question. My answers, along with an analogy with rent:
    1. A lot of people didn’t like smoke in bars, but they didn’t dislike it enough not to go. I complain that my rent is too high, but it’s not high enough to actually make me move.
    2. People complain about high rents, so why don’t we see places that charge way less (for the same quality of housing)? Same deal as with smoking bars: because they already have all the business they can handle, usually, and the empirical evidence is that people don’t care quite as much as they say they do.
    3. You don’t see any falloff in business because the playing field remains level. You don’t have a choice between smoking and non-smoking establishments, so people only have the choice to go to the bar or not go at all, and as with #1, they care, but not enough to overwhelm all the other factors.

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