“You don’t know what you’re dealing with here,” Dorinda Medley told the houseboy as she began showing him how to make what she calls a “pre-dress drink” during a trip to Miami.
“Let’s do a little heavier pour than you did, just to make it snappy,” she tells him as she decants the Bacardi into the glass and squeezes in extra lemon. Next, a handful of ice. “And I personally like… a splash of water,” she says as she pours a dollop of San Pellegrino. She shakes it enthusiastically. “Here we go. It’s got a lot of love in it.” Cheers.
To order, or in this instance to make, a drink as reality tv royalty is to embrace an art form not previously known or perhaps even discovered until the franchise’s premiere sixteen years ago.
So what exactly constitutes a “pre-dress drink” beyond the chutzpah of the shake? I decided to call up the inventor herself. “A pre-dress drink has to make you feel sexy and powerful,” Medley tells me. Never wine, she specifies, as it makes you “tired and disinterested.” Instead, she suggests a “sexy martini” or an old fashioned made with BlueStone Manor Bourbon (her label, wouldn’t ya know!). Above all: “It has to make you feel like the night is yours.” So really, it’s less about the drink itself and more about the state of mind. How Lana Del Rey-ian.
For these housewives, ordering drinks is as much a part of the show culture as the catfights and Balenciaga jumpsuits. It’s deserving of scientific research if you ask me. Some examples: Tinsley Mortimer orders a Pinot Grigio at brunch with her mother, Dale. “She always has that with her scrambled eggs,” Dale tells the waiter. Sutton Stracke orders a “Grey Goose cosmo [with] that pale pink that means more vodka than, like, that other stuff.”
For Eileen Davidson, it’s the coldest, driest white wine, always. Ashley Darby loves a Corona in her hand, and for Vicki Gunvalson, she’ll need a blue cheese stuffed olive in her dirty martini. Shannon Beador, meanwhile, is serving up Ariestinis, whatever that means. But the creme-de-la-creme is Ramona Singer: a large glass, ice, club soda or Pellegrino to the top, muddled mint, Tito’s vodka, three limes on the side, and a straw.
Honorary mention, of course, to Dorit Kemsley’s “Belvedere, soda, (in a short glass), and three lemons — carcass out,” which has instigated entire articles pondering whether or not she invented the term “carcass out.”
“I think the drink and food orders flesh out the characters in subtle ways,” says Dan Calabrese, co-host of the podcast Come Thru Queen. “Most scenes are either getting together at a restaurant, hosting an event, or going away on a vacation, which all involve drinking and eating in some way. Their orders paint an interesting picture of how particular they can be, whether or not they are adventurous, and what kind of host they are.
Many of the women have leveraged their drink orders into full-fledged brands. Vanderpump Vodka. Ramona Pinot Grigio. Teresa Guidice’s Fabellini. Lisa Barlow’s Vida Tequila. And, of course, the behemoth among them: Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl. My favorite, which unfortunately never made it to market, was introduced in New Jersey. “A Bellini has vodka, champagne, and peach schnapps in it, but the bellini is different from the Daniellini because a Daniellini is with Limoncello,” Danielle Staub proudly announces.
The alcohol brand pipeline remains healthily flowing thanks to the show’s ongoing fascination with how the women both order and concoct libations. In December 2019, Ky Anderson launched @therealhouswivesorders, “the first (and only) exploration into the world of food and cocktails,” According to Anderson, there’s a lot to glean from how and what each housewife orders. “My teen/early adult years were spent working in the service industry as a server, so I’m always going to care. I’d also argue this is one of the few moments we’re seeing the ‘real’ version of someone. How you treat your server tells me everything I need to know about your character.”
Medley agrees and also notes that the order itself tells us something about the women. A good cocktail like a martini or an old fashioned? “Fun, sexy, powerful,” she says. Wine? “Kinda more settled and less colorful.” Sugary drinks like piña coladas? “Well, I don’t know many people who drink sugary mixed drinks… that’s for the young and playful.”
And while Mariah Carey’s “The Art of Letting Go” taught us a lot about, well, letting go, it’s abundantly clear that when it comes to the art of ordering a drink as one of the housewives, the lesson is just as on the nose: You aren’t just what you drink; you’re how you order it as well.