Cocktails and paradox of choice

Cocktails and paradox of choice

On Saturday afternoon, as part of my birthday present I was treated to tea at Dandelyan at the Mondrian Hotel on Bankside. The menu promised a calorific romp through finger sandwiches, pastries and patisserie paired with an array of botanical cocktails. Our waitress explained the ethos of the modern life of plants (no idea either) and the references to mixed drinks in each course. This she did against a dizzying backdrop of high balls, hurricanes and flutes. And mild panic began to foment.

I don’t know about you, but when presented with a cocktail menu I don’t know where to start, so I end up playing it safe, sticking to my usual, and feeling a teeny bit disappointed. This got me thinking about the paradox of choice.

Freedom of choice is a central tenet of western societies and is perpetuated throughout our education, working and relationship experiences. But does more choice actually make us happier and do we end up with better outcomes?

Some psychologists would argue that choice has made us not freer but more paralysed, not happier but more dissatisfied. There is an explosion of clinical depression in the developed world possibly because we are an eternally disappointed society.

Too much choice…

  1. And we leave ourselves open to the possibility that we’ve made the wrong choice. However good the “sex on the beach”, the possibility that a “slow comfortable screw against the wall” might be better, subtracts from the satisfaction of the experience.
  2. There is an opportunity cost involved with choice. You could call it FOMO (fear of missing out). If I choose to be drinking cocktails on a Saturday afternoon am I wracked with anxiety that there’s more fun to be had elsewhere with another bunch of fun bobbies?
  3. Choice raises expectations. The more options we have the higher our expectation of perfection. If it only comes in green, we’ve got 100% chance of being satisfied with green. The more choice, the lower the likelihood we will experience that rare thing; the element of pleasant surprise. The expectation of perfection subtracts from satisfaction.
  4. Finally, when you can choose anything you want then the only person responsible for the outcome is you. If it turns out badly it’s probably our own fault for making bad choices. (And we wonder why so many of our teenagers suffer from anxiety.)


Oh, the relief when the only choice I had to make was between Earl Grey or Builders’.

So where is all this leading? I work with lots of people who sell IT solutions, products and services. Inevitably, there is a lot of choice. We need to make it easier for people to start the buyer journey. Packaging up “easy to buy” propositions is just one way of removing the paralysis of indecision and helping people to choose you. Think of it as a public service that customers will thank you for:

“Some choice is better than none, but it doesn’t follow that more is better than some”.

The Wyld Tea at Dandelyan was entirely and thoroughly satisfying because someone better qualified than me had taken away all the difficult decisions. We were able to relax in the knowledge that experts in mixology, botanicals and sandwiches had put together a solution for our afternoon’s entertainment that was spot on. Here’s a little taster…

Bacardí, Plum & Peach, Elderflower, Bubbles
Passionfruit and Sea Buckthorn, Bombay Sapphire
Dandelyan Chocolate Vermouth, Pink Peppercorn, Prosecco
Grey Goose, Green Tea, Mango and Citrus


If you’d like to try it for yourself visit the Dandelyan Bar