Not too long ago, in those foolish days when I used to regularly pay somebody to make my morning coffee, I had an interesting encounter with my obnoxious barista after ordering a mocha.
“A mocha?”, he laughed, “Do you want a Breezer with that too?”
Based on the way I usually react to dimwits, I probably giggled shyly then mumbled an expletive under my breath while walking away with a sense of smug superiority, kinda like I imagine Kurt Cobain did every time he wore a dress on stage and some pea-brained redneck yelled out, “Fag!”. Geez, sometimes a man’s in the mood for a warm elixir of coffee and dark chocolate, just go away and let me sip it gingerly.
That’s not the only time I’ve encountered these ridiculous gender connotations we apply to food and beverages. On countless brunches, my girlfriend and I will roll our eyes and laboriously swap dishes after my poached rhubarb with sheep’s yoghurt granola is mistakenly placed in front of her when she ordered the breakfast burrito. Going back further, I remember a friend in high-school who always ordered pink drinks, ice-creams, desserts, etc, whenever we went for an after-school snack. The amount of ridicule he had to endure simply for a having a palate for berries was nuts.
Now, some decades after Winston Churchill’s jowly WWII vow to fight for the beverage (“Remember gentleman, it’s not just France we’re fighting for, it’s Champagne!”), a bottle of bubbly has become similarly tainted by these odd gender connotations. Unless you’re in Milan or Madrid, you’d be hard-pressed to find a group of guys huddled around the TV at their local sports bar clutching a fizzing glass of Veuve Cliquot or prosecco.
(Long sidenote: Perhaps the only guys openly enjoying champagne these days are rappers, who constantly drop references to Cristal and Dom Pérignon as shorthand for living large. In fact, rappers have never been shy about their often questionable beverage choices, like long-departed Biggie Smalls’ line, “Moet and Alizé keep me pissy…”; Wu-Tang alumni Ghostface Killah, who regularly raps about Bailey’s on ice; Rick Ross, lover of pinkish-hued rosés; Lil Wayne, whose penchant for “sizzurp”, a classic concoction of codeine, Sprite and Jolly Rancher lollies, resulted in an octuple root canal marathon; and Oscar winners Three 6 Mafia’s classic club mantra, “We be drinking Maker’s Mark-uh, cranberry vodka…”. For such a hyper-masculine musical genre, their drinking choices are pretty progressive).
One establishment looking to challenge that silly stereotype is the bar One Moncur, who recently issued a call to action to Sydney’s men to put aside the regular schooner of Resch’s and partake in the chugging of champagne. Their campaign culminates on Wednesday November 21, when they’ll be offering a free glass of bubbly to any man who walks through the door (a clever subversion of the classic Ladies’ Night staple) and eventually expanding to a series of male-focused tastings throughout the month (potentially tied in with the launch of the new James Bond movie, himself a lover of Bollinger).
“Champagne is for everybody, everyday,” said co-owner Jeremy Browne; his business partner Anthony Rosen succinctly adding, “Masculinity and sophistication should not be mutually exclusive.”
At this point, my notepad is a garbled mess of scribbles saying stuff like, “Mmm,Récoltant-Manipulant!” and “Paul Bara rosé matched with a charcuterie plate, delightful!” There’s also a page in there describing that the cage around a champagne cork is always secured with six twists, it’s always six. Knowing this tidbit makes it quite easy to close your eyes and impressively open your next bottle of champagne like a boss, as Rick Ross would say.
“Champagne is often misconstrued to be both feminine and not alluring to the male palate. On the contrary, champagne is the drink of kings, tsars, celebrities and personalities worldwide. It shows a level of elegance and sophistication unlike any other beverage,” said One Moncur’s sommelier, Tristan Tomlinson, who also waxed knowledgably and enthusiastically on champagne’s various cult followings and the medicinal properties of a glass of bubbly, something about old French men in caves and their swollen hands (sure, it would’ve been professional of me to properly remember what he said but, alas, I was too delightfully buzzed on Récoltant-Manipulants to take sufficient notes).
And so, to finish: I have a dream, a dream that one day a dude can confidently order a peach bellini amongst his tough-guy mates if he wants to and not feel like he’s failed as a man. That, and another dream to dress up like Don Quixote for Halloween, but mainly the first one, I guess.