This time last year I went on a date with someone I knew so little about that I could have listed the amount of things I did know about him on one hand, and still have fingers left over to complete a cross-word and tie my laces. We didn’t have a single friend in common, I didn’t know his last name or even his job. When turning up at 8pm in West London, pretty much exactly 12 months ago today, all I could have told you about him was his first name and that he was from somewhere in Germany, maybe Berlin, but the club we met in a week prior to this was so loud I couldn’t actually be sure.
So when we walked to the bar on a Thursday evening and the barman turned to me and said “what can I get you”, I looked up to said date questioningly, hoping he might (as I was used to) take the lead, but he said nothing. So I went for my usual, a vodka slim-line tonic – a punchy drink perhaps, but I’m allergic to wine, so I have to stick to spirits. When said barman turned again and asked, “single or double?”, again I turned back to said date with an expectant look, longing for him to jump in and say “double”. Because, well, anyone who has ever been on a first date in the last decade knows that you get pissed. Really pissed. For at least the first 3 – 5 dates, before you decide you actually might like each other enough sans alcohol to start seeing each other. But he doesn’t say anything, he just shrugs with zero facial expression. I look back at the barman, who obviously knows that this is a first date and thus slightly awkward. “Double please,” I decide to go with.
“And you sir?”
“Just a sparkling water please.”
My jaw drops. I grimace at the barman. The barman does that wide face-smile-cum-grimace-thing that perfectly says everything I was feeling in that exact moment, a sort of sympathetic “poor you, this going to be interesting” sort of way.
“Do you not drink?” I asked, semi-laughing. It was December after all, he could have been hangover from the night before.
“No. I’ve been sober for 5 years.”
“Ah,” I said, taking my double vodka in one shaky hand (kind of wishing that trebles were a thing outside of Northern University towns), walking swiftly to the smoking area to try and diffuse the awkwardness of the situation…”I’m guessing you don’t smoke either, do you?”
The good news is, we ended up dating for a solid 4 months. The bad news? We probably should have seen the writing on the wall from the beginning, from that first drinks order, and not bothered with a second date at all. Because, whilst it may at first glance seem like a very loose generalisation, a lot can be learned from a person’s drink order of choice, especially on a first date. Turning this question to a few female friends and enlisting the help of one male friend who manages a very popular Champagne & Cocktail bar in Fulham, we’ve rounded-up our thoughts on first date drinks…
Beer is a guy’s guy drink. It may not be the most sophisticated of orders, but it’s not going to have her running for the hills either. If you’re in a pub then it’s absolutely fine. “If you’re in a bar and she’s gone for a cocktail or spirt, you should probably do the same thing just to put her at ease – ordering a beer on a first date doesn’t exactly scream sophistication, does it?” In other words, at least try and pretend you have some kind of sophistication beyond beer and rugby.
A bottle of wine
“Safe. That’s what this is. It says, I want to have more than one drink with you, but let’s not go crazy just yet and start ordering cocktails.” In other words, it doesn’t really give that much away, but it also doesn’t send any particularly heart rate inducing signals either. The general consensus is that you’re better off starting with something a little more exciting and moving on to a bottle of wine later.
A pretty punchy order, sure, and according to a certain (male) online editor of ours, “pretentious as f**k”. But fear not, gentlemen, as women think very differently on this matter. “I would love it if a guy ordered champagne on a first date, it’s romantic and shows he’s taking charge which is always attractive.” It says to your date that you’ve done this before, you’re not messing around and you know how to play the dating game better than the other 90% of the male race. Men will tell you otherwise, ignore them.
If you’re in a nice cocktail bar then absolutely order you and your date cocktails – just be sure yours doesn’t come back with pink cherries or a stupid name drenched in sexual innuendos (a side thought: whoever invented “the slippery nipple” should be punished, and don’t even get me started on Sex on the Beach). If you’re in a pub or a slightly sub-par dive bar, then don’t. Ever. It’ll make her doubt your sexuality from the get-go and you kind of just sound like a tool.
If you have the looks, manners and personality to pull this off then why the hell not. If you once saw some silver fox order it and thought it looked cool in a Mad Men sort of way so decided you’d do it too, then don’t. You’re not as cool as him.
Whilst the man who orders a Martini on the silver screen may scream sex appeal, the cold reality for the man that orders them on a first date is just a little cringe-inducing. The difference between champagne and martinis (aside from the obvious difference in alcohol levels) is that the majority of women love champagne, but unless it’s 1am and she’s already 6 drinks down, very few actually enjoy the strength, taste or perception that comes with starting an evening with one. “The stark exception to this is if you already know she likes them and you’re in the home of the Martini, Duke’s.”