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What women want — at the bar, at least

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My wife is an intelligent woman, despite having arranged to host a stagette party at our place — twice. The most recent, which took place last Saturday, found me handily provisioned with two new products that appear to be geared to female drinkers. I offered them up to the goddesses of night and got the hell out of there, intending to ask about the reaction later.

OPTION 1: BOOZY

I was specifically told that “female and multicultural” markets are the target of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, a new American whisky liqueur made with actual honey. Joining Jim Beam Red Stag and Wild Turkey American Honey (not yet available in Canada), this is just the latest attempt by U.S. whisky makers to find new markets for their products by sweetening the deal.

What does it taste like?
Jack Daniel’s with some honey in it, which is not a bad thing. The texture is quite smooth. “You’re probably going to get some praline notes, which is very agreeable as well,” Jack Daniel’s master taster Jeff Norman said when we spoke last month. And you know, he was right. While doing a chilled shot is reportedly the de rigueur procedure, I expect a bartender somewhere will invent a fine cocktail using Tennessee Honey. I personally have yet to make a breakthrough there.

Did the women drink it?
My stash was diminished by a shot or two but there is no evidence anyone was especially tantalized.

OPTION 2: CREAMY

I’m not sure what makes me think of the brand new St-Rémy à la Crème as particularly feminine, other than the fact that it is sort of like Baileys, and I have an aunt who can really pack that stuff away. It’s also a fact that the old brandy house of St-Rémy has for its cellar master a woman named Martine Pain, and one can only imagine the gender barriers she must have broken to score that job.

What does it taste like?

Again, if you’re familiar with Baileys and other cream liqueurs, the new St-Rémy with a cow on the bottle is in the same vein, but with a subtle, woody hint of brandy. Much less subtle are the big, cartoonish caramel and chocolatey flavours that emerge from somewhere. I detect hazelnut as well. Imagine slurping down a bonbon. If you have a sweet tooth and won’t be sickened by swallowing a bunch of creamy stuff, this is for you.

Did the women drink it?
In a word, no. Hard to figure why not. But there was something else in front of them. Something suggested by the ancients.

OPTION 3: BUBBLY

Frank Meier ran the Ritz Bar in Paris in the 1930s, and he knew a thing or two about preparing drinks for a crowd. His Artistry of Mixing Drinks (1936; available in replica edition at cocktailkingdom.com) has proven a treasure trove for party-scale refreshments that aren’t too complicated to prepare and won’t bowl you over with a gust of booze stench. So my wife put her faith in his recipe for a Kalte Ente, a “cup,” or light punch consisting mostly of German white wines. Meier used terms and measurements unfamiliar to people who don’t obsess over old cocktail books, so here’s my translation of the formula:

In a punchbowl or large pitcher (with at least a four-litre capacity), pour in two bottles of German riesling, then two bottles of dry German sparkling wine and three ounces of Cointreau. Decorate with the peeled rind of a lemon. According to Meier, it is “unnecessary to stir before serving.”

And that’s that. The result? Every last drop of Kalte Ente demolished. Old-school drinks win again. That’s about all the detail I needed to hear about the stagette party. Wise men know not to inquire too deeply.

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