Take Back the Bar: A Girl's Guide to Social Drinking 

It's a cutdown as old as the Y-chromosome: You (insert verb) like a girl. In sports, business, or any other bastion of maleness, it's widely believed that one must act male in order to be respected. In no place is this more true than the bar.

Most women have a lower tolerance for alcohol than most men, yet the pressure to conform on the barstool looms large and fierce. Women want to keep up with their male counterparts. Perversely, though, drinking tends to widen the gulf between the genders. The more a woman drinks, the more her desire to fit in with the guys gets construed as something else entirely.

This is because no matter how liberated, how respectful, or how married the male drinking buddy, the astute female knows he is constantly assessing the level of her drunkenness to determine how he might take advantage of the situation. The same guy who recoils in polite embarrassment when he accidentally brushes against his female co-worker in the elevator suddenly, after a few drinks, finds himself wondering if he can get away with stealing a glance down her blouse.

Neither gender is to blame for such behavior. It's simply that a bar, by nature, is a place for flirtation and courtship rather than bonding. This is what makes the bar a hell of a lot more fun than work or church--and territory the drinking girl can use to her advantage. No need to fall prey to the tipsy-girl-as-lush stereotype. Look at the bar as prized territory to be conquered rather than feared.

If you're one of those girls who aspires to being able to drink boys under the table, this advice isn't for you. Face it: Men dominate us in the area of alcohol tolerance. But what most of us lack in body mass, we can make up for in sexual politics. Contrary to common misconception, feminine drinking traits should not be avoided or downplayed, but embraced and celebrated. Done well, girl drinking is Power Drinking.

Guidelines to drinking like a girl:

1. With drinking, as with bikinis, less is more. You never want to get so smashed that you reveal more about yourself than others have been wondering about you. Be wary of disclosing too much information. If you're wondering whether to reveal an intimate story or juicy personal tidbit, don't let the liquor make up your mind for you. Always err on the side of mystery.

2. Never feel pressured to drink straight whiskey, bourbon, cognac, or any other equally offensive hard liquor. Remember, drinking should be fun. You shouldn't feel pressured to down anything that burns the back of your throat, when you can nurse an extra limey Cosmopolitan or something else that sends tingles down your spine.

3. Be firm and precise with the bartender. Specify your whiskey when you ask for a Manhattan. Ask for a little Frangelico with your vodka Martini. Know exactly what you want, and don't hesitate to demand it.

4. Match your drink with your outfit. The sexier you dress, the sexier your drink ought to be. Never order a beer if you're wearing a dress.

5. Don't do shots, unless you're doing tequila. Men always want women to do shots, because they know it's the shortest route to feminine inebriation. Tequila is excepted because of its natural inhibitors--it's messy, involves an elaborate ritual, and tends not to multiply, as most women are mindful of how they look licking salt off themselves (or others) in public.


More by Jacqueline Marino


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