After I got here out as bisexual a decade in the past, I anticipated encountering sure cliches upon stepping foot into my first homosexual bar: the ever-present high 40 remixes of pop divas, twinks with platinum blond hair donning mesh tank tops, and an abundance of drag queens whom I ought to be able to generously tip. However one sudden phenomenon stood out: the chokehold that Vodka Sodas had over queer males. It appeared that each time I approached the bar, I’d hear practically all The Gays™ ordering Vodka Sodas, no matter their look.

The “masc” dom leather-based daddies have been ordering them alongside the girlies (i.e., femboys). Bears, otters, and jocks have been throwing again the practically odorless elixir, particularly the final of which with their impossibly ripped our bodies. So naturally, my homosexual besties have been obsessed. And after they would casually announce, “I’m going to seize a Vodka Soda. Would you like something?” Regardless of pondering that Vodka Sodas tasted nasty, watered down, and bland, I’d reply with a reluctant, “Positive, seize me one, too.” I most popular craft cocktails bursting with taste and complexity, so by comparability, Vodka Sodas tasted uninteresting and lifeless.

However now, a full decade and three completely different United States presidents later, I discover myself hooked on them. I’m not alone: Numerous LGBTQ+ people worldwide share my affinity for Vodka Sodas, incomes vodka the colloquial moniker of “homosexual water.” Greg Sullivan, who’s been bartending for 4 years at three of New York’s hottest homosexual bars — Items, Playhouse, and {Hardware} Bar — has opinions concerning the phenomenon.

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“I don’t suppose ingesting Vodka Sodas is primary, however some folks name it homosexual water, and I believe that’s primary,” he says. Nonetheless, the reign of homosexual water persists, and the motion has even hit cabinets: Social media star Spencer Hoddenson launched his new line of canned Vodka Sodas, aptly named “Homosexual Water,” earlier this summer season.

“Vodka Sodas are our lifeblood,” says Kelly Gorman, a bartender on the Rosemont, a preferred queer Williamsburg spot. The trade veteran is actually no stranger to the effectively drink; Gorman’s been behind the stick at homosexual bars, dive bars, and golf equipment for over 20 years.

A part of the explanation for this Vodka Soda craze stems from an unstated expectation to organize them — a refined standing image. Chicago-based Tyler Schoeber, a 27-year-old homosexual man who started ingesting Vodka Sodas when he began frequenting homosexual bars, implies there’s some stage of vainness at play.

“Although a Vodka Soda does slay, I consider homosexual males are conditioned to order [them] in queer areas as a result of it locations them in a superior place to different patrons,” he says. “It tells of us within the bar, ‘I care about my physique. Not sufficient to not drink, however sufficient to let you understand that I’m ingesting this 100-calorie drink.’” Brant Day, 45, began ingesting Vodka Sodas when a homosexual good friend informed him they’ve fewer energy than the Lengthy Island Iced Tea he was ingesting.

“Actually, it’s a behavior at this level,” he says. “I like that it’s fast for the bartender, they usually’re simple for me to make at residence.” Then, after all, there’s the will to evolve. Schoeber argues that the Vodka Soda obsession additionally stems from the will to slot in. “It’s what everybody else does, so following swimsuit means you received’t be the odd one out. Nobody will take a look at you and suppose ordering a Vodka Soda was a poor selection.”

Efficiency is, as Day mentions, additionally a significant component. “It nonetheless messes you up,” he says, particularly with the beneficiant pours usually discovered at homosexual bars. Only a few Vodka Sodas can have you ever shirtless on the dance flooring, nailing the choreo to “Oops!… I Did It Once more.” The added bonus is that your hangover possible received’t be as brutal because it may very well be, because of the low sugar content material — although having 9 of them may nonetheless result in an disagreeable morning. Sullivan additionally notes that Vodka Sodas are referred to as a “bottom-friendly drink,” that means they received’t upset your abdomen, so you possibly can take some D that night (which is, after all, the aim of many queer males hitting up a homosexual bar.)

However why vodka as a substitute of one other spirit? In any case, tequila and gin don’t considerably differ from vodka health-wise; it’s usually the mixers and added sugar that contribute to the hangovers and discomfort.

“Quite a lot of advertising and marketing has gone into the Vodka Soda’s rise within the homosexual group,” Gorman says. For many years now, some vodka manufacturers have catered and marketed to the LGBTQ group — and never in an exploitative method, merely making an attempt to make pink {dollars}.

“Absolut, for instance, began referencing LGBTQ tradition in the 1980s. It’s a founding sponsor of the GLAAD Media Awards, and an early sponsor of RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Cat Wolinksi previously reported for VinePair. “Absolut has donated greater than $40 million to homosexual and lesbian facilities akin to OUTserve, OUTFEST, and God’s Love We Ship.”

Nonetheless, Tequila Sodas have been giving Vodka Sodas a run for his or her cash not too long ago. “The Tequila Soda is now operating neck and neck together with her!” Gorman says, referring to the current surge in competing orders at their bar.

Whereas Sullivan acknowledges the rise of this agave-based various, he stays satisfied of Vodka Sodas’ enduring cultural prominence. “Most fads come out and in, just like the Aperol Spritz or Espresso Martini, however a Vodka Soda is so easy and traditional. It’s not a fad. Vodka Sodas have at all times been right here and at all times might be.”

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