“Everyone is drinking beer… some people over there are drinking cocktails!”
This was the reaction of a group of Silicon Valley-based tech executives Business Insider went to lunch with during an Australian visit.
We were at celebrity chef Luke Mangan’s Glass Brasserie in Sydney’s Hilton Hotel, a popular spot with business travellers.
Their shock was Business Insider’s surprise. Looking around the room we just saw business meetings and client catch-ups. It looked normal.
The exec asked if they served iced tea – just tea, no Long Island. The waitress said “no”. He settled for sparkling water.
But this moment revealed the extraordinary gap between these successful American entrepreneurs and Australian business.
As one exec explained: “In my 12 years working in Silicon Valley, I’ve been to lots of lunch meetings. However, I have never been to a lunch meeting where someone ordered an alcoholic drink. It’s just not done.”
He agreed to explain more on the condition of anonymity, that in Australia “it was quite common to have a glass of wine or a beer with lunch”.
My first thought was “lucky I wasn’t the first to order”, otherwise I probably would have done the normal thing and ordered a glass of wine.
He said it would be considered quite odd to order alcohol at lunch, “like you weren’t taking your job seriously or something”.
So what do they drink?
“People are more likely to order coconut water or an organic smoothie than a beer,” he said.
And here’s a detail that would send shivers down most guys at Friday lunch at the ivy.
“To that end, most restaurants in Silicon Valley don’t even offer alcohol at lunchtime. When I was working in New York, it was a little more common (I experienced it a couple of times), but still very much the exception rather than the rule,” the exec said.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t drink at all.
“Happy hours and drinks with dinner are quite common. Plenty of wine is typically involved at dinner. It’s more the drinking during the middle of the day that is uncommon in Silicon Valley,” he said.
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