WASHINGTON — In medieval Europe, “gentleman” was a term used to describe a man who was not part of the royal court. That’s what Eric Schulze, co-founder and creative director at ThirstDC tells a room full of men — and a few women — gathered at the UberOffices in Dupont Circle Wednesday night.
He continues, “As feudalism disappeared, it took on a different meaning: gentle man — one of action, someone who does good. And I think that’s the meaning it takes on today.”
The crowd was not huddled in the room full of pizza boxes and empty Prosecco bottles for a lesson in history; they were there to pick up some pointers on how to be gentlemen.
D.C-area businesses and startups UrbanStems, State of Affairs, VinoLovers and Catoctin Creek hosted their first Gentleman Clinic, where they offered short seminars on everything from how to order wine at a business dinner to how to order flowers and find the right fit and style of clothing.
Believe it or not, the clinic wasn’t focused on helping attendees score ladies (or fellows). The message was all about building one’s confidence and broadening one’s knowledge in a range of topics.
Some of the takeaways:
Order Whiskey With Confidence
There’s nothing more gentlemanly than sipping on a smoky whiskey. But if you don’t know much about the beverage, ordering it can be stressful. Chad Robinson, of Catoctin Creek, says first, it’s helpful to know what kind of whiskey you want to drink.
Bourbon is an American whiskey, made primarily with corn. Some distilleries add a mix of rye, wheat and barley to the alcohol. Rye is an older American whiskey that “kind of fell out of favor” but is beginning to make a comeback, Robinson says.
And then there is Scotch whisky, a 100-percent barley whiskey, made in Scotland. Once you know what type of whiskey you want to drink, you need to know how to order it. And Robinson says it never hurts to order your whiskey with a little water.
“It opens up the whiskey and gives you a better chance to get the aromas from it; it gives you a better idea of what you’re working with,” he says.
Some restaurants and bars bring water to the table in an eye dropper, which is a great way to dilute the beverage with control, Robinson says. Don’t have access to this tool? Don’t be ashamed to use the straw from your water glass to accomplish the same task.
For those who aren’t fans of sipping straight whiskey, Robinson suggests trying it in a cocktail such as a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
Don’t Ignore Wine
For all men who have sat at a business dinner and didn’t have the slightest clue what wine to order, Justin Harrison understands. He was once in that position.
Now, he’s the CEO of VinoLovers, a D.C.-based wine subscription service that delivers tailored wine collections to customers. He’s also a sommelier, and he wants to teach more men about wine.
“For men, [the options] shouldn’t just be beer and whiskey. Wine’s not just for women; wine is lifestyle, you know what I mean? We know the difference between chicken and fish, and we should know the difference between pinot noir and cabernet,” Harrison says.
Understanding the basics of wine can come in handy during social situations: “You’re cool, you’re calm, you’re confident about what you want to drink.”
Harrison has a few tips when it comes to ordering a wine: First, don’t get flustered. Think about what flavors you like. He says it’s far more important to remember a region than a brand.
“I know red wines from Napa Valley are going to have certain characteristics