“What’ll it be?”

The eternal bartender query should elicit a simple response. After all, what we drink is a personal matter that reflects our tastes. Or does it?

While “you are what you eat” may be true, what you drink – to borrow from a different cliché – is in the eye of the beholder, making “What’ll it be?” a minefield for even the most casual drinker out on a date. Ordering a drink that will be perceived positively is particularly challenging at a moment when drinking has gone niche – when the favorite neighborhood dive competes for our precious leisure time with wine bars, microbreweries, cocktail bars, and faux speak-easies.

So how does our order sit with the person seated across from us? We surveyed more than 1,000 Americans who date and drink to find out. Continue reading to learn more.

Wine Is Finest

The rush from a first date coupled with the buzz from a few drinks can make for a heady experience. But first impressions are crucial, and – fair or not – your order is under scrutiny. Men and women surveyed found it most attractive when their date ordered wine over all other beverages, with craft beer as the No. 2 choice. Mixed drinks and top-shelf or well liquor were all deemed less attractive than water and other nonalcoholic beverages.

Men Are For Hops, Women Are For Grapes

Break the data down by gender, and a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts comes to light. Slightly more than one-third of respondents found it most attractive when women ordered wine. And true to form, women really do prefer wine in far greater numbers than they do beer or liquor. A little more than 1 in 5 respondents preferred their female companion to abstain from alcohol, and approximately 1 in 7 liked to see a woman order a mixed drink. Regarding beer, those surveyed found it more attractive when a woman ordered a craft brew over a regular beer (think Budweiser or Miller Lite) at a rate of nearly 3 to 1.

From the neighboring bar stool, nearly 2 in 5 respondents preferred when a man ordered a beer, with craft beer outpacing more mainstream brews nearly 3 to 1. As is the case with men’s preference for female drink orders meeting reality, men really do drink beer more than any other alcoholic beverage. Nearly 1 in 4 of those surveyed rathered that men go dry, followed by an order of top-shelf liquor (more than 1 in 6), wine (greater than 1 in 10), a mixed drink, or well liquor.

Following Orders: Drinking Preferences Over the Decades

Some people age like a fine wine. As our respondents age, they like fine wine; that is, they were likely to find an order of wine by their female companion more attractive than any other drink. Other notable findings from our survey: From ages 21 to 60, with each ensuing decade, those surveyed were increasingly likely to find it attractive when a woman ordered a craft beer.

Our survey found those between the ages of 21 and 50 preferred when men ordered a craft beer over other choices. From ages 51 to 60, however, craft beer shared the top spot with nonalcoholic beverages, and top-shelf liquor was the most attractive drink order in the eyes of respondents ages 61 to 70. Nonalcoholic drinks ordered by a man received the nod from all respondents over the age of 70.

The Power of Positive Drinking

When asked about their perception of various drinks ordered by women, more than 63 percent of respondents said they viewed a wine order positively. Slightly over half of those surveyed had a positive view of a craft-beer order. Rum drinks (37.39 percent); gin drinks (37.23 percent); sugary, colorful drinks (34.31 percent); and tequila drinks (33.77 percent) were all viewed favorably by slightly more than one-third of respondents.  

The Power of Positive Drinking, Part Deux

Drink orders by men were viewed differently than those by women. Craft beer orders were perceived most positively by respondents, with more than 57 percent viewing it favorably. A wine order was viewed favorably by 43.17 percent, followed by a gin drink (39.34 percent), a rum drink (36.84 percent), and a tequila drink (31.98 percent). A sugary, colorful drink (15.44 percent) was perceived most unfavorably (47.74 percent viewed it negatively).

Judgment Calls

It goes without saying our judgment can become clouded while under the influence of alcohol, but how do others perceive our actions? Survey participants’ most negative responses were reserved for drinking and driving, followed by drinking more alcohol after already appearing tipsy, and encouraging a date or other person to drink more. Refraining from drinking was the only choice that received more positive responses than negative.

We Say Craft Beer, You Say …

Be Sure to Accessorize

A drink order can be fraught with uncertainty: Will the person sitting across from you have a positive response to your umbrella drink or the obscure ale from Denmark with the hard-to-pronounce name? A similar question can be asked of shop owners: When a new customer purchases a cult cab and an unoaked chardonnay for tonight’s dinner party, are you going to close the deal with a generic plastic bag or a custom-branded, two-bottle tote?

If you understand that a little extra can help build customer loyalty, pay a visit to WineBags.com, which serves the wine, beer, and spirits industries with bags, corkscrews, cutting boards, growlers, picnic baskets, and wine-bottle stoppers.


We surveyed more than 1,000 Americans aged 21 and over on their drink order preferences.


Fair Use

Want to share our content for noncommercial use? Link your readers back to this page, and we assure you that we will perceive you in a positive light – unless you order a sugary, colorful drink.