A cocktail afficionado’s guide to humour traits
When was the last time someone asked you if you had a type? You now, the kind of conversation that elicits descriptions like “tall dark and handsome”, “a fixer-upper” (or “project”), “girl next door”, “it girl” … name it. Whatever your type, though, a sense of humour matters to most of us. We’re not necessarily looking for the next Peter Sellers or Lucille Ball, but we connect through humour – it’s how we find resonance with others, how we grab someone’s attention, how we let someone know we’re not a robot. Arguably, most encounters in which we meet “a prospect” happen to involve a drink or two (but who’s counting, right?). Think restaurant dates, bar hook-ups, weddings, clubs, anywhere at university… no scenario mentioned here is a stranger to the words, “What are you having?” So, whether the answer is a Martini or an Old Fashioned, what we’re really looking for is a connection. Experts have identified nine types of humour. What does your cocktail of choice say about which sense of humour you’re into?
OLD FASHIONED | SELF-DEPRECATING HUMOUR
The moment the bitterness sets in, it corrects itself with a note of sweetness… only to second guess itself with a spritz of citrussy sourness. There’s something very endearing about an Old Fashioned cocktail; for all the sophistication it exudes, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Perhaps you feel it could do with a smidge more confidence, but we’ll file that under “things to fix later,” shall we? Self-deprecating humour has been a mainstay in the world of stand-up since, well, the birth of stand-up. The trick, though, is striking that fine balance between self-deprecating humour (“I don’t suffer from depression, I’m just good at it.”) and self-effacement (“I’m not depressed, just sad.”). Self-deprecating humour is still humour, not a pity party.
FRENCH 75 | SURREAL HUMOUR
Take a perfectly fine bubbly – already on the sweet side of the spectrum as far as wines go – sweeten it up even more with a splash or two of simple syrup, and then, because it’s a cocktail, add gin and a dash of lime. No, you’re right, you’re not in Kansas anymore. To add to the strangeness and charm of this cocktail, it originated during World War I, when the effect of taking a sip of this boozy beverage (even for a cocktail) was said to be not unlike getting shot by a French 75mm field gun. War veterans will remember it as a particularly powerful piece of artillery. Yes, there’s a randomness to this kind of humour that’s not for everyone, but once bitten by the weirdness and wonder of it all, anything else just feels so vanilla.
PIÑA COLADA | PHYSICAL HUMOUR
Let’s face it, there’s nothing subtle about a piña colada. It’s basically pineapple juice for grown-ups. Now, before you start reading this as an insult, consider that Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are regarded two of the greatest comedic minds of all time, and their humour – admittedly owing to cinema’s silent era – has often been described as slapstick. You know the kind: you see the banana peel eagerly awaiting its victim on the sidewalk, the victim unaware at first, then the victim sees the peel, but gets distracted, slipping on the squishy fruit skin anyway. Gets you every time! Why not just enjoy it.
MOSCOW MULE | WITTY HUMOUR
You know those parties you get invited to, then toy with the idea of whether or not to go, until the host calls you up personally a week after the RSVP date and puts you on the spot, at which point you make up some excuse about not knowing where the time went and (begrudgingly) confirm your attendance? But you’re optimistic. Maybe this time you won’t feel like letting out a random yelp midway through a conversation about procurement. Yet, one hour in and you’re already plotting your French exit as you get roped into a debate about municipal tax while sipping on a Moscow Mule, which is likely to be the only refreshing thing about this shindig. Then, like a breath of fresh air, a stranger comes to your aid, throwing the conversation off with a spell of jargon bombing that you could swear is a naughty innuendo, but you can’t be sure, until they catch your eye and throw you a sly smile. Suddenly, finding an inventive way to excuse yourself takes a back seat, unless of course the stranger had to utter the words, “Want to get out of here?”
APÉROL SPRITZ | TOPICAL HUMOUR
As far as cocktails go, the Apérol Spritz is on the lower side of the alcohol spectrum – just enough to get the conversation flowing – and has been enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif for more than two centuries. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a get-together where the conversation turns lively (and at times rowdy) – but always sophisticated – at the mention of current affairs ranging from pop culture and food trends to the environment and war. The true mark, however, of somebody who really knows their stuff, and who can apply their agile mind to changing the world, even if only a little, is someone who can apply a biting sense of humour to even the grimmest topic without somehow offending anyone. Sophisticated and sexy.
COSMOPOLITAN | IMPROVISATIONAL HUMOUR
Once there was the Martini, staple tipple of James Bond, dependable but a little dangerous, a classic if ever there was one. But then someone had the idea of turning it into a camp, pink drink that all but personified the hit show, Sex and the City. Now the Cosmo is a classic. Improvisation is a skill that some would argue you’re either born with or you’re not. It’s that uncanny ability to steer a situation in a completely new and unexpected direction, and in so doing, bringing down the house. It’s sharp, informed and confident, but never intimidating. In other words, the epitome of a crowd-pleaser.
NEGRONI | OBSERVATIONAL HUMOUR
The ability to read a situation and comment on it in a way that makes people laugh is a gift, but one that is also refined over time. The richer and more diverse your life experiences, and the better you know people, the sharper your observations tend to be. Observational humour is funny because it’s true… without stating the obvious, of course. As one of the world’s favourite cocktails (it’s made by bartenders across the globe), the Negroni is one the most well-travelled, and everywhere it goes, it gets an interesting twist. But it’s also not a “safe” cocktail. It packs a bitter punch, like all the best observations, with a sweet finish.
SAZERAC | DARK HUMOUR
An acquired taste, the Sazerac cocktail originated in the streets of New Orleans, which – as the setting of many of Anne Rice’s vampire novels and one of the world’s voodoo capitals – has always held a certain dark allure. It feels a little dangerous, and with its unique combination of rye whisky, bitters and Absinthe, the Sazerac lives up to the city’s mystique. And that’s exactly what attracts us to someone with a dark sense of humour. There’s a fearlessness to them, which can be thrilling, especially when we feel we’re treading close to the edge of our comfort zones. It’s the kind of humour we feel shouldn’t make us laugh, but it does, and so we feel somewhat rebellious. For all the taboos that accompany dark humour, succumbing to it can be quite freeing.
MOJITO | BODILY HUMOUR
Without going into the gastroenterology of it all, having a Mojito does not go unnoticed as it passes through the body. The combination of fresh mint leaves (acid inducing in the stomach yet soothing to the intestines), rum (fiery and intoxicating), lime juice (an antioxidant and colon cleanser), and simple syrup (do we need to go into the effects of sugar?) is like a wild night on the town without needing to step out the door. If you’re vulnerable to the effects of any of these ingredients – and it’s totally cool if you are – a sense of humour never goes amiss. Most of us would like to believe that we’ve moved on from our seven-year-old selves, but if we’re honest, jokes involving body parts and bodily functions (when treated in a witty way) are (a little) funny… aren’t they? OK, you don’t have to answer that (in public), but the less seriously we take ourselves, the more attractive we become – a topic for a different conversation, perhaps.