Cafe Reviews

Second Helpings

Generation X Files: Are you between the ages of 25 and 36? Do you think no one cares about you?

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Some very important people care very much about you. They're the people who run the world's biggest liquor companies.

Gen Xers are fueling a resurgence in hard spirits. They're drinking "retro cocktails" like the martini, in all its contemporary variations; they've popularized flavored clear spirits, like fruit-scented vodka; and they're behind the boom in upscale tequilas and mescals.

What's driving them to drink? Marketers say drinking has become a way for Gen Xers to achieve "status among their peers"--in other words, to look cool and successful.

As Baby Boomers have aged and become set in their ways, liquor companies have realized that they have to cultivate the next generation of drinkers. So they've spent lots of money analyzing the Gen X cohort.

What have they found? According to an 18-month survey, which involved more than 1,000 interviews, Gen Xers can be divided into four groups:

* Experiencers: These are optimistic men and women who "live for today." They're interested in "trying new things and daring to be different." You might find this group at the Famous Door, drinking appletinis and chocolatinis.

* Go-Getters: These are "work-oriented" types who are always striving to reach their goals. You might find this group talking about the stock market over expensive shots of tequila at Old Town Tortilla Factory.

* Balancers: These young adults "love to enjoy life, but must make the time in their busy lives to do it." You might find this group crowding the bar at Houston's on a Saturday night.

* Father Knows Best: These are the traditionalists, "who want to return to the basics." This group can be found unwinding at Merc Bar, drinking high-end Scotch and bourbon, or sipping a glass of champagne.

Next time you Gen Xers see a "Bacardi by Night", or a Sauza Commemorativo "Life is Harsh. Your Tequila Shouldn't Be" ad, brighten up. It means the liquor industry has given up on the approaching-50 Baby-Boom geezers, who are less susceptible than ever to advertising. For the next few years, Gen Xers will be the center of advertiser attention.

But it won't last long. That's because there's a demographic tsunami lurking behind the Gen Xers--Echo Boomers, the children of Baby Boomers. In ten years, they'll sweep everyone else away.

Oy Vey: Forget to buy a Hanukkah gift? Check out a new video: No Schmaltz. (Schmaltz is Yiddish for chicken fat.)

It's an instructional tape featuring nine no-meat recipes from Debra Wasserman's The Low Fat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook.

The kicker? The instructors do the instructing in Yiddish. English subtitles help non-Yiddish speakers follow along.

No Schmaltz costs $27. You can order it by sending a check to Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, Maryland, 21203, or calling (410) 366-8343.

--Howard Seftel

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Howard Seftel