Elizabeth Taylor once said, “Look, sweetheart, I can drink you under any goddamn table you want, so don’t worry about me.” Yes, there were quite a few very appealing things about the iconic actress but the fact that she could hold her liquor (well, in the beginning of her career at least), may have been part of her allure. Apparently, a woman’s ability to hold her liquor, especially with more stereotypical manly drinks like whiskey and scotch, is a turn on in the business world and a surefire way to get you into the boy’s club, according to some.
Men account for 80% of those who drink Scotch whiskey in the United States. Like golf, it is one of those activities that is synonymous with business but it is also synonymous with manliness. According to Ask Men’s 2011 Great Male Survey (yes, it is actually called that), 35% of men consider beer to be the “ultimate man’s drink.” Whiskey came in second at 28%, Scotch was at 27%, “whatever Don Draper is drinking” came in at 7%, and the Martini got 3%.
One woman who works in internet publishing sales said drinking scotch has directly helped her move up in her career. The male executives in her company have scotch tastings and she said the fact that she was the only female who didn’t say the scotch tasted bad or got drunk too fast, gave her a fast induction into the boy’s club.
When you have a scotch you are making it clear that you are there to play the game. You are one of the boys and you are in the club. The goal of the evening is to show that you can hold your alcohol. My female bosses don’t even want to go to these things. If they know a client wants to do one of these scotch tastings, she sends me. Because I can do this, I have become the client’s go-to person. This is the fast track for me.
The woman said she looks at this as simply a strategical factor to helping her career. Just as you would learn to play golf before hitting the links with your clients and bosses, you have to prepare for drinking scotch.
You are there to be taken seriously. Don’t be the girl who goes into a scotch tasting and gets drunk, because then you are just f**cking yourself. I’m not stupid. I eat before I go to these things.
One man who works for a non-profit said he really had respect for an intern that stayed out drinking scotch with the men in the company after all the other female colleagues went home because they were too drunk or tired.
I really had respect for her. It showed that she was in the club and could keep up with the boys.
However, many women do find the taste of scotch to very much be an acquired taste. One young female lawyer said she keeps trying it every few weeks in hopes she will just magically like it one day.
I think this is definitely an issue in offices with boys club type environments. Drinking those kind of drinks can be a huge part of office culture.
But if you are interested in drinking scotch to help you in your career there are resources. Blogger Max Reffner offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to get used to drinking scotch. You may go to sleep drunk every night for a few weeks, but it will help your career, as it has helped him in his.
Laugh at all the people who smell your drink and ask how you could possibly drink such a thing. You are now a member of the drinking elite, a person of refined tastes. You’ll never want to drink anything else again. Bonus if you are a woman. Scotch drinking women are rare these days (although still seen in bowling alleys).
Diet and health writer Heather Greene wrote women with their more acute sense of smell, may actually enjoy scotch more than men. Plus, as a man once said to her when he found out she liked scotch, “It shows that you are cool, fearless, know what you like, and are willing to explore.” Those are all things that are appreciated in the business world.
So the next time a scotch or whiskey-tasting event comes up with colleagues or clients, don’t automatically turn your nose up at it. At least be willing to give it a try and just pretend you are Greta Garbo in the 1930 movie Anna Christie. “Gimme a whisky. Ginger ale on the side. And don’t be stingy, baby.”
Photo: AMC’s Mad Men