Women’s Code of (Drinking) Ethics

It’s a typical Friday night safari with men and women at their watering hole.

And then the animalistic dance begins: men order beer/whiskey and the women order wine/vodka.


We’ve genderized alcohol.  And I don’t like it.


Mai Tai

Mai Tai me.

A “masculine” drink is often perceived to be strong, harsh, grainy, and sometimes bitter.  For example, anything with scotch or a pint of beer is considered a more “masculine” drink.  It’s particularly interesting to watch a man’s face when he receives a Mai-Tai with mint flowers, pineapple quarter, orange wheel, and cancerous fake cherries exploding at the glass’s brim.  His face adorns a disgusted look and immediately he’s wondering, “Oh no, this is not good for my masculinity.  I have a flower drink in front of me, there’s a twinge of pink, and I can’t do this.”  That is, until his tries it. (If you’ve ever had a real Mai Tai, you would know that it puts down the “manliest” of men.)


Change scene.

A “feminine” drink is often thought of as sweeter, softer, and delicate.   Often times, a beverage with vodka or light rum or even a glass of wine is considered a more “feminine” drink.   It’s an automatic safe-zone for women to order a “cosmo(politan)”.  It immediately solidifies her femininity with a little kiss of flirtation.  Just as men steer away from “sissy” drinks, I see women be embarrassed to order the thick, “manly” drinks.  So I say this: stop that right now.


Ladies, I dare you to shock them all and debunk this opinion.  Thus, I’ve come up with a set of Drinking Ethics, a Female Code.


Take heed:

1.  Thou shalt explore

One of the defining characteristics between a craft beer drinker, for example, and a non-craft beer drinker is that craft beer drinkers will try something they don’t recognize.  In fact, they intentionally seek out the unknown.  New producer or brewer you’ve never had?  This is a perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.  Your palate will dictate your next decision.  Go into a restaurant or bar with the intention of learning a new morsel of knowledge, even if you may only have 30 seconds to converse with your server or bartender.  Learn it, mull it, research it, and apply it.  Push past the service and into the hospitality portion of the establishment you just entered.  It can only get better and you’re adding to your own drinking experience.

2. Thou shalt learn what a “round” is, dammit


I believe women are notorious for not knowing what a “round” is.  I greatly enjoy rounds among friends, because friends buy friends drinks (and reciprocate).  Let’s discuss Round Etiquette.  You go out with friends, say a group of 4, and someone buys drinks for the group (math equals 4 pints total).  You are now beginning a round.  The expectation is now for you to return the gesture to your group.  At the bare minimum, you buy any friend who bought you a drink in return.

Granted, there are a couple factors to consider with rounds.  Please consider the location and time allotment.  It would behoove you not to do 5 rounds of cocktails in one hour.  Mainly because your liver will start punching you from the inside.  That, and you just became “that crowd.”

Factor number two, consider the number of people you have in your group.  If you have 16 in your group, this means each person will consume 16 drinks.  And the liver-punching ensues once again.   It is the responsibility to each person to keep the round going.  If the night ends before someone can reciprocate the round, it is that person’s responsibility to start the rounds for everyone next time.  No one likes a freeloading-friend who drinks on their friends’ dime.

3. Thou shalt try gin, whisk(e)y, and stout

Gin is the trump card to vodka.  Try it, please.  Ditch the vodka, grab the gin.  Not all gin tastes like you’re sucking on pine needles.  And gin is glorious, especially when it’s mixed correctly.   Try to push the same flavors you enjoy in your vodka cocktail into using gin as your base spirit.  You like it light, crisp, and with a touch of sweet?  That, my friend, would make a fabulous gin cocktail.

Scotch Night


Whisk(e)y is the nectar of the gods.  Not everyone can fully appreciate its heavenly gloriousness.  It’s the self-actualization pinnacle on Maslow’s hierarchy of drink needs.  But learn to appreciate it and I suggest you work at it.  As a woman, I’ve found that you garner quite a bit of respect from men if whiskey and scotch is something you can tolerate.

Try something that is brown, bitter, and stirred.  That’s just plain sexy.  If you find that whiskey is tough to put down, start working with your aged rum.  Do it in the dark.

And stouts are just good.  Suck it up and enjoy it.


4.  Thou shalt search to find a better go-to drink

(Beer Wheel courtesy of Sinebrychoff of the Carlsberg Group)

We’ve all been in the uncomfortable position of sitting at a new bar in front of a new face with a new menu and new spirits.  And don’t be tempted to order the same thing your friend ordered as a safety zone. Be brave.

Try to push yourself beyond the typical Vodka Soda default.  First, scan the bar to check out the caliber of spirits and syrups.  Peruse the menu.  If the situation is appropriate, ask the bartender about their cocktail/beer program.  I was able to experience my first Sazerac and Martinez with phrases like “whiskey base spirit,” “herbal,” and “clean.”  Brave the different flavors of your palate.  If you need, spend sometime with a flavor wheel.

Instead of thinking about the actual beverage, think about the characteristics that you like in your particular drink of choice.  The citrus flavor in your Shocktop could be found in something using cascade hops in an Indian Pale Ale (IPA)—try exploring that for a change.  If your typical vodka cocktail is fresh with a little floral notes—try switching it out with a gin-based cocktail with the same flavor profile.  That rum and diet coke will not help you watch the calorie intake.  Instead, try a dry red wine or a stout—surprisingly low in calorie count.

5.  Thou shalt drink good beer

While we’re on the topic of beer, please don’t drink crappy beer.  I know you like specials (and who doesn’t?) but if you’re getting a $1 beer of Bud Light, you might as well order water.  Ordering a Miller Light for a buck is like saying you’re going for a 5 mile run and you only walk to your couch.  You’re cheating yourself.  Don’t do it.   When you do, we, who are trying to order better available beers, come off cavalier.  You make me look like a schmuck for ordering a $5 beer I’m going to enjoy, but I’ll do it anyway.  And the last time I drank crappy beer was freshman year at a beer pong tournament.  Not a coworker happy hour.  Buck up, bronco.


What Codes do you follow?

About Jess Hunter

Jess is a lady and a scholar. If she's not mulling over the various names of famous mustaches and their respective bitter cocktails, she's nibbling on American Craft Singles and Cantillon. Connect with her by email at jesshunter@denveroffthewagon.com.

  • http://coloradowomensbeerclub.wordpress.com denverbeerchick

    Wise words to live by. Thanks for the great article! (and for making me feel good about my intense love affair with whiskey!)

    • Jess Hunter

      woo thanks denverbeerchick! Always great to meet a fellow whisk(e)y lover.

      Any additional codes you prescribe to?

  • Sara Ann

    Good work, PJ! Great tips for getting out of the rut!

    BTW, I hate cosmos and love gin. But I’m not creative enough to ask for it any way but straight… next time!

    • Jess Hunter

      Sara Ann- Glad you liked some of the tips!

      I, too, dislike Cosmopolitans in their modern-day interpretation. Cranberry is now used for flavor, when it was originally used for color only.

      As a gin lover, you should have no problem getting out of the rut! Some that got me on my way are: Corpse Reviver No. 2, Martinez, Negroni, Aviation, Trinity, or really any other 50/50 cocktail. Maybe you’ll enjoy them, too.


    • Jettie

      I’m a vodka drinker personally, but I’m trying to get into gin. I prefer lemony drinks, so I’m gonna try a Tom Collins and a Gimlet. Maybe you could try those too. 🙂

      • Jess Hunter

        I love me a Gimlet!

  • http://www.onlythecurious.com/uncategorized/what-ive-been-up-to-or-why-i-should-be-posting-more/ Nicole

    I’ve always taken some pride in being the girl that ordered a craft brew or gin martini instead of something sweet or silly. If you’re the only girl in the group who orders a dark beer and can talk brewing or whiskey with the guys, that earns you a hell of a lot more respect, and that’s a good feeling.

    Love the commandments, recommend them to my girl friends, I follow all of them. 🙂

    • Jess Hunter

      As do I. I completely agree about the earning respect part. Here’s to you and your gin martini and dark beers!

      (I will publicly admit here, though, that I do love an occasional Schlitz)

  • Picasso

    It’s “palate”!

    • Jess Hunter


  • http://www.politicalflavors.com MissCherryPi

    I think most women know what a round is, but I do agree that it’s silly that drinks are gendered. I didn’t learn it at home, my dad’s favorite cocktails are Pina Coladas and Brandy Alexanders. I would encourage other men to do the same. Most of my male friends are not afraid to order a specialty martini if the mood strikes, and I think it’s great. Drink what you like, no matter what others think, and don’t be afraid to try something new.

    • Jess Hunter

      MissCherryPi–I’m glad to hear that women are doing more rounds, that’s exactly what i want to see. And, hey a good Pina Colada and a Brandy Alexanders are great drinks. So are Painkillers.

      You said it right, drink what you like because you like it, and be open to trying new things and experiment a little. At least you tried. Thanks for reading!

  • Jen

    Maybe I’m just not your typical female drinker. I want my drink to taste good, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to sweet for me. I do favor vodka, but my ethnic background is Russian so I have a valid reason! Not a gin fan (tried and tried), but I am partial to a great Manhattan. I’m happy with a vast variety of craft beers, which are more of a ‘go to’ thing than cocktails for me. The first drinks I ever tried were beer and a whiskey sour, so maybe that impacted my taste buds. And I don’t care if I’m ordering off the other gender’s menu, that wouldn’t ever stop me. I think more women are venturing outside the assigned comfort zone these days…

    • Jess Hunter

      Jen – I love it! You’ve tried gin and it didn’t work for you. That’s great. You know you like vodka because you like it, not because you don’t know about the other “stuff.”

      I love seeing women venturing outside their comfort zones and I like seeing more of it. Thanks for reading!

  • Heather

    I’m down with craft beer (my beverage of choice) and the only kind of martini I would drink is w/ gin and very dirty. Whisky, on the other hand, I haven’t gotten into. I’m sure it’s just because I don’t know too much about it or how to order it and such, but maybe it’s time to learn. I think you’ve inspired me!

    Thanks for writing this! Yeah, cosmos suck!

    • Jess Hunter

      Heather-very dirty (and yes, with vodka) martinis were my go-to cocktail at first, until I started trying more and more. And I’m glad I tried more. If you like whisk(e)y, great! If you don’t like whisk(e)y, great! As long as you try it.

      Hope you enjoy the new explorations. Cheers


    Miller Lite is delicious. That was a travishamockary. It’s right under PBR for best beer in a saw mill on a hot day, the 3-7 seconds your chugging after you walk in the door from work, and practically every other warm waking moment.
    Don’t knock American beer. Jeesh. One day after you drink the rarest and darkest beer in the world, you’ll be ready to tackle the fine accents of the modern shitty beer. Grab a hammer and drink a Miller Lite. (does not include Grenuine Draft)

  • Josh Rapp

    I hope men can take advice from these commandments too cuz I just learned stuff and also other good stuff!