Is Glassware a Barrier to Cocktail Acceptance

Darcy O'Neil :: February 3, 2007 1:29 PM

Poco glassWhy is it that a 35 year old business man drinking from a Poco, or hurricane glass looks so lame? Unless of course he is on a holiday, at some tropical resort, it just doesn't seem to fit. Sure, some guys don't care that the Pina Colada they are drinking in February doesn't fit, but good for them. Girls can get away with drinking from any glass, especially the Poco glass which has the complimentary curves that were obviously designed to represent women. So, are glasses designed to attract the different sexes? Does the curve-less Collins glass represent men? Is this a barrier to the acceptance of certain cocktails?

If you look back past the 1970's and 80's you will see most cocktail glasses had a male / female bias. Men drank from straight walled rocks glasses and women sipped from martini or poco glasses. This is pretty apparent in movies of the 1930's, 40's and 50's where men like Clark Gable and John Wayne wouldn't be caught dead with a poco glass in their hand, well at least their characters. Elvis Presley, in all his Hawaiian movies may be the exception, but Elvis went out with a cocktail that would put crash cart burn marks on anyone’s chest.  The martini glass seems to be one of those glasses that looks ok for both genders if it contains a Manhattan, Martini or other neutral coloured liquid. But Cosmopolitans don’t work for both. But a straight walled collins glass seems to be acceptable to both sexes.

One thing to remember is that a lot of guys shy away from drink cocktails because of the glass. I’ve had guys order Cosmopolitans very quietly and ask to have them served in a rocks glass. I am more than happy to oblige, but unfortunately I make my Cosomo’s the way they are suppose to be and that means pink, not doused with cranberry juice like a lot of places. If I’m on the ball I’ll recommend a Kamikaze because it is a more manly green. Making my customers comfortable is a key for me and if that means working around glassware, then so be it. 

The “martini bar” phenomenon may have helped glassware acceptance, or done more damage, I’m not sure yet. What was cool one years is lame a few years later. Think the 1970's and 1980's. The martini bar, with all of those colourful, fruity and meaningless cocktails were very popular for a while, but it seems that when you say “martini bar” people are starting to make the ugh sound. People want more substance, especially with the resurgence of classic cocktails that have an interesting history and stories. The “martini bar” menu, designed purely on colour and glassware has all the substance of hair metal bands of the late 1980's. Sorry, slight tangent there, but what I was trying to say was that the martini phenomenon, except the classic gin martini, may have worn out it’s welcome and the glassware also. Will people rebel against the martini glass because of this overtly trendy posers paradise? Time will tell.

The Mai Tai is a good example of a drink the was once gender neutral and then some how morphed into a feminine leaning drink. The classic Mai Tai should be an orangish brown colour, served in a rocks glass. The Tiki period of history took the Mai Tai, added pineapple, guava and orange juice and poured it into a poco glass. The new, lighter and sweeter Mai Tai, now appealed to a broader group of people and more women gravitated towards it. It seems very rarely do men order a Mai Tai’s. Has the glassware influenced this?

Working behind the bar it is pretty obvious that men drink much more than women do. So, if the cocktail renaissance is to continue we need to look at the glassware cocktails are served in. When I guy orders a Mai Tai, does he really want it in a poco glass? Not likely. I accept the fact that men are as conscience of their appearance as women are, especially in a place like a bar where making a good impression can attract someone from the opposite sex. People make wild assumptions about a person based on simple things, like the type of drink they are imbibing. How many polls have been released saying that a guy that drinks beer is this, a guy that drinks wine is this, etc. etc.

Riedel OWhat’s the solution? I don’t know, but the glassware companies could take some psychology professors and design some new glassware that appeal to both sexes, but isn’t as boring as a straight walled collins glass. Riedel did a great job of creating a new wine glass, the “O Wine Glass Tumblers” that appeal to both sexes, but broke out of the traditional stemware glass and created a casual glass that is still functional for fine wines.

Blue Hawaii Cocktail

¾ oz. Light Rum
¾ oz. Vodka
½ oz. Blue Caracao
3 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Sweet & Sour Mix

Combine all ingredients with ice and mix well. Serve in a Collins or zombie glass. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.

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