What’s the Best Thing to Drink to Meet Other Travelers?

A recent survey says that strangers judge your approachability based on your drink order.

Bar culture is the best place to start a trip for most independent adult travelers; we visit a new place, we hit up the local bar scene, we connect with locals, we fan out from there.

But a new report from Anheuser-Busch—yes, the beer company—indicates that what we drink in these situations says volumes about the kind of people we are and can give clues about how approachable we might seem to others when we’re traveling.

The report, dubbed the “Beerpressions Survey,” was released last month and culls responses from 2,000 Americans over the legal drinking age.

For this writer, the data is perfect fodder for the first Friday of fall.

Not surprisingly (given the source), key takeaways focus on beer. Women (70 percent) and men (59 percent) who drink domestic beer are perceived to be more approachable than women (36 percent) and men (29 percent) who drink imported beer. No additional data was available for lite beer, low-carb beer, or gluten-free beer.

The margarita is the highest-ranking cocktail for approachability (38 percent for women, 28 percent for men), and women (23 percent) and men (18 percent) who drink wine have the lowest overall approachability perception rates. 

In particular, survey data said that women (59 percent) and men (47 percent) who drink champagne or sparkling wine were perceived to be “high maintenance” and “demanding.”

Overall, a whopping 61 percent of survey respondents believe that “what a person drinks at a bar gives significant clues about their personality,” and one in three respondents said they often “make quick judgments” about strangers based on this information. Also interesting: 20 percent of respondents said they actively consider how their drink order will be perceived by others while out with friends, and 34 percent said they think strategically about their drink choices while out on dates.

To be fair, the Beerpressions Survey wasn’t without controversy: A handful of critics and customers decried that the wording of some of the survey questions as retro and sexist.

While some of these concerns definitely are valid, yours truly views the data with a healthy skepticism and doesn’t take it too literally. (Beside, the drink of choice here is scotch and soda, which didn’t even make the list.)

The bottom line: It doesn’t matter what you throw back at the local bar when you travel, so long as you stay responsible and keep an open mind. As they say in Ireland and Scotland: Slainte!

Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com