A Female Reporter's Holiday Plea: Send Me the Same Stuff the Guys Get

Illustration by Massimiliano Aurelio

Don't buy into antiquated stereotypes and assume women want wine and men love scotch as gifts, writes a Hollywood Reporter editor.

So you’re thinking of sending my boss a bottle of scotch. Consider giving it to me instead. This is not a ploy to steal his holiday loot (or violate any journalistic rules!), rather a plea to mix up the archaic gender assumptions that drive so much professional gift-giving.

People often send men "manly" drinks — bottles of scotch and bourbon that seem pried out of Humphrey Bogart’s nicotine-stained hands. "Whiskey has always been associated with manliness," says Dan Dunn, host of the podcast What We’re Drinking With Dan Dunn.

While men in the office are soaked in spirits — their manhood affirmed even if they’d rather sip a hard seltzer — my female colleagues and I typically receive bottles of wine. Just like the characters on Big Little Lies, I suppose, some women gladly gulp the wine down while they vent about their days and plot to cover up a murder. But I rarely drink wine, 95 percent of which makes me sneeze. I’ll take a single-malt over a chardonnay any day.

Thanks to the craft cocktail movement, there are more women like me. About 33 percent of U.S. scotch consumers are women, up from 27 percent in 2015, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. "The entire whiskey category continues to grow in no small part because women are discovering how much they enjoy this spirit," says Brandy Rand, COO of the Americas at IWSR.

In yet another expression of the gender wage gap, a great scotch is usually more expensive than a great bottle of wine. But scotches do come in a range of prices, like a peaty, 10-year-old Ardbeg ($50), a rich, honeyed Johnny Walker Blue ($160) or a spicy Macallan 18 ($250). In the ultimate extravagance, there’s the 72-year-old Macallan at The Montage’s £10 Bar — a female guest recently ordered six pours, at $12,000 each, for her group.

So emergent is the female scotch drinker that in 2018, Johnny Walker introduced Jane Walker, its usual scotch in a bottle featuring its top-hat-wearing mascot as a woman. Many women found it condescending, and Stephen Colbert wondered if products like "Jacqueline Daniels" would soon follow.

I don’t need a just-for-her scotch, any more than my male colleagues need a butched-up Beaujolais. Just send me the same old stuff the guys get, a little gesture of equality that warrants raising a glass. 

This story first appeared in the Nov. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.