Restaurant chain stirs controversy over 'gender neutral' cocktails: 'A shocking turn of events'

An international restaurant chain is drawing both praise and criticism after launching a series of new "gender-neutral" cocktails.

Burger & Lobster, which has locations in the U.S., the U.K., Singapore and elsewhere, announced its "Mixed-ology" beverages through a press release and promotional video on the company's website.

"Don't judge a drink by its color," the restaurant wrote of its new drinks menu.

The cocktails, currently available at the restaurant's location in London's Soho neighborhood, are completely colorless and feature simple, number-based names — in order to avoid any association between certain drinks and gender stereotypes.

Burger & Lobster and described the move as a "fancy social experiment" meant to show "how stereotypes can and do affect consumer choice on a daily basis." The company cited a self-conducted study in which it found that more than one-fifth of all customers felt uncomfortable ordering certain drinks that they believed were more associated with a different gender than theirs.

As a result, each drink includes ingredients familiar of a classic cocktail — the five offerings include a cosmopolitan, margarita, negroni, mojito and piña colada — but on the menu, they're simply referred to as No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The colorless drink campaign aims to encourage "choosing a cocktail based on ingredients rather than a marketed name," according to the press release.

The beverages sparked a mass debate online, with some criticizing the decision as unnecessary.

"Stupid me. I hadn't realized cocktails were gender-specific," one person tweeted.

"In a shocking turn of events, I'm so glad I can now order cocktails that were meant for men! is it also okay if I order a beer now?" another person wrote.

At least some people were supportive of the new menu though, applauding the restaurant chain for attempting to dissolve gender norms.

"Not as stupid as I thought it was going to be. Remove the frills or the macho image to make the drinks more accessible," one person tweeted.

It's not the first time gender-neutral beverages have made news either. Last year, award-winning Swedish bartender Josephine Sondlo partnered with sensory researcher Johan Swahn to create "Hen," a cocktail named after Sweden's gender-neutral pronoun.

Made with a variety of ingredients, the beverage aimed to remove stereotypes based on name, flavor and color.

"Even before we start drinking, we're taught that men drink certain things and women drink certain things. It has nothing to do with how we actually perceive flavor," Sondlo told VICE at the time.