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On their first date, Brock Schulte didn’t give Erica Pyles a bouquet of flowers. He brought her a bottle of beer.
Schulte, a bartender, hoped the bottle of New Belgium La Folie would impress Pyles, who is one of a handful of female certified cicerones in Kansas City. And it did.
“I remember being like, ‘You are the man of my dreams,’” says Pyles, general manager at Bridger’s Bottle Shop.
What you drink on a first date could be just as important as what you say: A recent national survey by Wist, an app for food and drink recommendations, shows that men and women have surprisingly strong opinions about date-night drink orders.
In the survey, 35 percent of men said their dream date would order wine. Twenty-six percent said they like ladies who sip specialty cocktails such as margaritas and mojitos, and only 18 percent said they prefer beer drinkers.
Thirty percent of women, on the other hand, said they like guys who order beer. Even more ladies (33 percent of those surveyed) said they prefer men who order well drinks such as gin and tonics. Only 19 percent said they’re looking for a wine lover.
If there’s one thing men and women agree on, it’s that shots are a bad idea on a first date. Only 1 percent of men and 4 percent of women said taking shots and shooters is a classy move.
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If you’re thinking it’s a little shallow to judge your date by a drink order, you’re not alone. David Smuckler, bar manager at Tavern in the Village in Prairie Village, says that “if you’re judging somebody by what they drink right off the bat, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.”
That said, Smuckler and other bartenders we talked to agreed that what you drink makes a statement.
Whiskey, for example, is seen as a power drink. And not just for men.
“There’s this idea that girls don’t drink whiskey,” says Rachel Freeman, a bartender at the Chesterfield in downtown Kansas City. “But all the girls I know drink whiskey.”
Freeman says her knowledge about whiskey does intimidate some men, “but those aren’t the guys I want to keep around anyway.”
As far as wine goes, the type you drink can say a lot about you.
For example, those who guzzle super-sweet white wine are often viewed as less sophisticated than those who sip a complex, earthy Pinot Noir, sommelier Hannah Frost says.
“I have a lot of friends who just drink red wine because it’s ‘more serious,’” Frost says.
Then again, sparkling white wine is having a moment, especially since the uncorking of Ca Va, Kansas City’s first champagne bar.
“So many places have sparkling wine by the glass now,” Frost says. “It’s like a celebration in a glass, even if you just got off work.”
When it comes to cocktails, classic is best, says Anna Cole, who opens a low-key Kansas City, Kan., bar called Barcadia on 5th next week.
“The more simple the drink, the more sophisticated the drinker,” Cole says.
Sorry, Long Island iced tea lovers: That kitchen-sink mix of vodka, gin, tequila, rum and cola is almost universally frowned upon by bartenders.
“If a girl comes in and wants a Long Island iced tea,” Cole says, “I’m going to immediately ask for her ID.”
Classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned are still considered cool. Barrel 31, a new whiskey bar on Martini Corner, serves an updated take made with cherry moonshine. It’s called the Old Fashioned Ass Kickin’.
Bar manager Jake Fankhauser says he appreciates customers who are willing to try new things, whether it’s a cocktail or craft beer. It’s sexy, he says, when a woman gets out of her vodka-cranberry comfort zone.
“It shows they’re willing to try new things,” he says.
But knowing exactly what you like and sticking to it is sexy, too.
Tiffany Walas, assistant general manager at Barrel 31, says gin and tonic is a gentleman’s drink, “but I like a guy to order a beer.”
Your go-to brew can say a lot about you, too. Freeman likes the hoppy flavor and pungent aroma of IPAs, but she says there’s a time and place for PBR.
After all, she says, “I’m not going to walk into Buzzard Beach and order a glass of champagne.”
Yard beer drinkers are seen as down-to-earth and budget-conscious. Smuckler has some more specific observations.
“If a girl orders Coors Light on draft, she’s a lake girl,” he says. “She can’t wait for summertime so she can go to the Lake of the Ozarks and drink Coors Light cans out of koozies.”
Or: “She’s probably got a pretty cool dad,” he says.
Smuckler and the other drink experts we spoke with agreed that no one should let a dating survey dictate what they order on a first date.
“At the end of the day,” Freeman says, “we’re all just trying to get a buzz, right?”
Meet the drink experts
Anna Cole is opening a bar called Barcadia on 5th in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan.
Jake Fankhauser is bar manager at Barrel 31 on Martini Corner.
Rachel Freeman is a bartender at the Chesterfield in downtown Kansas City.
Hannah Frost is a sommelier and on-premise sales representative for Glazer’s, a beverage alcohol distributor.
Erica Pyles is a certified cicerone and the general manager at Bridger’s Bottle Shop in Westport.
Brock Schulte is a bar consultant at Providence New American Kitchen and the Drum Lounge in downtown Kansas City. He’s also a bartender at three Crossroads Arts District restaurants: the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen and Grunauer.
Tiffany Walas is assistant general manager at Barrel 31 on Martini Corner.