The Lowdown: gender-neutral cocktails

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

The Lowdown on gender-neutral cocktails launched by Burger & Lobster restaurant

Related tags Burger & Lobster Cocktail Restaurant

London restaurant chain Burger & Lobster has launched a range of colourless and nameless ‘gender-neutral’ cocktails.

Yeah, because social stigma is the main thing stopping a group of lads from ordering a round of woo woos…
That’s what Burger & Lobster would have you believe. Citing the results of the Gendered Drinks Burger & Lobster survey, which polled 2,000 people, the group says that more than a fifth (21%) of people in the UK don’t feel comfortable drinking certain drinks because they consider them more suitable for the opposite gender. Over two thirds (67%) apparently agree they have been put off ordering drinks because they considered the glassware to be too ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’. In addition, over half those polled said that certain drinks are not suitable for men due to perceived ‘feminine’ colours (26%) and ‘frivolous garnishes’ (25%).

Ok… and how has Burger & Lobster attempted to counteract this potentially crippling phenomena?
By launching a range of ‘signature’ colourless cocktails (each one served with its own frivolous garnish we might add) that supposedly remove stereotypes and allow customers to focus on taste rather than marketing when choosing a drink.

Which cocktails have been included?
Working with mixologist Eduard Balan, Burger & Lobster’s head of bar George Pugsley has created a ‘neutral’ take on five cocktail classics: the cosmopolitan, the mojito, the margarita, the negroni, and the piña colada. All five cocktails have been reformulated with colourless ingredients, with homemade pineapple kombucha added to the piña colada in lieu of juice, and lime saccharum used in the margarita alongside a pineapple and cardamom-flavoured soda (quite why they saw fit to modify the mojito recipe is hard to see, given that aside from the sprig of mint it’s usually a near colourless concoction).

Where have these cocktails been made available?
The cocktails are now available at the chain’s Soho and St Paul’s restaurants, following a ‘first of its kind’ social experiment. Designed to examine customer behaviour and choice when selecting a cocktail, the next phase of the research was undertaken by listing the five colourless cocktails as numbers rather than by their traditional names in the Soho restaurant, and vice versa in the St Paul’s site. It revealed that 31% of male customers were put off choosing a particular cocktail such as a cosmopolitan or piña colada because the name was too ‘feminine’; while 11% of female customers were ‘too embarrassed’ to order drinks considered more ‘masculine’ like a negroni.

I’m suddenly in need of a stiff drink…
Indeed. It’s pretty questionable stuff, and to make matters worse only 33 diners were surveyed as part of this ‘social experiment’. Burger & Lobster adds that over the year’s marketeers have come under scrutiny for reinforcing stuffy stereotypes and pinning certain drinks to genders, and cites the active steps are currently being taken towards neutrality across the nation with #OurWhisky aiming to challenge the misconception of whisky being a ‘man’s drink’ as further justification for the launch. The problem, though, is that this feels a bit like trying to compartmentalise an issue rather than confront it. And what’s more, if someone really feels like they can’t order a drink because it supposedly has masculine or feminine connotations, maybe that’s more of a comment on their own maturity rather than that of society in general. Make mine a fuzzy naval…

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