The stars of the Real Housewives shows aren’t picky about their alcohol. They tend to take it however it comes, especially when served at a lavish gala or dinner party. They’ve also been known to use their beverages as weapons. But many have tried to establish their particular drink of choice in order to sell a liquor brand, or just to bolster their persona. (It would be nearly impossible to count the number of times Heather Dubrow has said “Champs” on national TV.) Of these products, only Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl bottled cocktails have become truly successful—you can’t even find Lisa Vanderpump’s rosé in New York City.
In an effort to be more like the Housewives, I decided to imbibe like the Housewives. I tried the most famous of their signature cocktails and wines of choice (none of these ladies seem to be a beer drinkers). Here they are, the Housewives and their boozy predilections, ranked by versatility and deliciousness.
10. Literally Any Wine — Kim Zolciak, Real Housewives of Atlanta
Kim Zolciak, the quotable and easily parodied sole white cast member of RHOA, is an equal opportunity wine drinker. She’ll drink any varietal, any way it comes—she even once requested a thermos full of wine from her assistant Sweetie at 9 a.m in a parking lot while her father sold her old furniture (too cheaply, in her opinion). PSA: If you drink wine this way, at least throw a few ice cubes in there. Few things are grosser than warm white wine, especially first thing in the morning—and it is the only thing that has given me a hangover I can seriously call murderous.
9. Skinnygirl Margarita (Bottled) — Bethenny Frankel, Real Housewives of New York
By far the most successful of the branded Real Housewives beverages—New York’s Bethenny Frankel sold her liquor company to Beam Suntory in a deal worth many millions—Skinnygirl’s original bottled Margarita is available at just about every corner liquor store in the country. Margarita mix should never be bottled, and Margaritas should definitely not be bottled. Skinnygirl has that distinctive artificial lime taste that lacks the zippy quality of fresh lime juice. Having said that, it goes down easier than a number of other premade Margarita mixes I’ve had. Should you drink it? Not on any sort of regular basis. But if you’re at a Real Housewives viewing party and someone offers it to you, will you gladly accept? Yes.
8. Bellini — Teresa Giudice, Real Housewives of New Jersey
Teresa Giudice has gulped lots of wine on RHONJ, but she’s announced her particular fondness for the Bellini, a mixture of Prosecco and peach puree. In fact, she even rolled out her own bottled Bellini-like concoction called Fabellini, which, as with other Housewife-branded beverages beyond Skinnygirl, is very hard to find. A traditional Bellini, though, is a brunch drink through and through. A little sweeter than a Mimosa, it can get cloying after one glass. You’re better off sticking with Heather Dubrow’s “Champs.”
7. Pinot Grigio — Ramona Singer, Real Housewives of New York
Ramona Singer doesn’t like to go anywhere without her beloved Pinot Grigio and is known to get irate if it’s not available. Fellow Housewife Kelly Killoren Bensimon once told her, “Your blood type is Pinot Grigio.” While she’s far from the only famous diehard PG fan, I’ve never understood the appeal of Pinot Grigio, which, to me, tastes like white wine made as boring as possible. A cold glass of the stuff is inoffensive and drinkable, but that’s about all it has going for it.
6. Vodka Martini with Blue Cheese-Stuffed Olives — Vicki Gunvalson, Real Housewives of Orange County
This drink is as unsubtle as the self-proclaimed “OG of the OC,” the longest-running Real Housewife, who has over the years screamed at an inhuman decibel about the inadequate size of a rental van, likened herself to Jesus being nailed on the cross, and taken to calling RHOC “my show.” Between the generous helping of olive brine in a Dirty Martini and the blue cheese, the dominant flavor here is salt. Actually it’s about the only flavor. The vodka is thoroughly upstaged. I’m generally not a fan of savory cocktails, but any dedicated OC fan knows better than to underestimate Vicki, so I went in with an open mind when I tested the loaded Martini at a Strip House steakhouse in Manhattan. The cheesy olives are nice bar snacks, but the little bits of dairy that float in the liquid are mildly revolting. Yet, as I was finishing the drink, I found myself warming up to it, much like Vicki and her moments of unbridled villainy.
5. Rosé — Lisa Vanderpump, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Lisa Vanderpump minted arguably the most memorable of the show-opener quotes with her catchphrase, “Life isn’t all diamonds and rosé, but it should be.” She’ll happily take a glass of the pink wine over anything else. But when I downed rosé at Manhattan’s The Tippler, an ornately designed bar I’d like to think Vanderpump would appreciate, it didn’t have the same effect, probably because it was 43 degrees outside—a problem Vanderpump never seems to have. But a pour of refreshing rosé, dry but not too dry, in the summer heat is hard to beat. Sparkling is even better.
4. Tequila Shots (Preferably While “Woo-Hoo”-ing) — Real Housewives of Orange County
When the tequila comes out, you know things on RHOC are about to get really fun or take a frightening turn. Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge have bonded over many shots of the agave spirit while whooping it up at Andale in Mexico. The same shots preceded Gretchen Rossi getting “naked wasted.” Shannon Beador loves a simple glass of nice tequila. And if you’re going to drink tequila (or any liquor) straight, it might as well be the good stuff, which has a grassy, agave flavor and a hint of sweetness. While it gets a bad rap thanks to its association with college benders and tacky Cinco de Mayo parties, a round of tequila is the perfect way to celebrate with friends and loved ones. Just be careful around Vicki.
3. Skinnygirl Margarita (Homemade) — Bethenny Frankel, Real Housewives of New York
Frankel may have launched a liquor empire using her fame on the Bravo show, but fans can’t forget how ingeniously she marketed her drink in the early seasons of RHONY. While it’s a stretch to say she invented a cocktail, the “skinny girl’s Margarita,” unfortunate body-shaming aside, is a genuinely worthy variation. Frankel opts for a generous pour of tequila (she likes extra-smooth Patrón Silver) with a lot of lime juice and just a splash of triple sec. Mixed together over ice (it’s so light that it’s better without salt), it’s refreshing and on the tart side. If you’re a fan of lime juice and/or low-calorie cocktails, you could do much worse than Frankel’s (literally) trademarked Marg.
2. Champagne aka “Champs” — Heather Dubrow, Real Housewives of Orange County
Heather Dubrow drinks Champagne (always “Champs” in a chirpy, high-pitched tone) on RHOC like us non-Housewives drink water, but she somehow always stays calm and collected. She even has a Champagne call button in her apartment-sized closet, where guests linger when they visit her mansion. Those bubbles actually do cause alcohol to hit the bloodstream a little faster, which could be why that first glass always seems to calm the nerves just right. A round of dry Champagne, like classic Veuve Clicquot, works at any occasion or time of day. Hell, you don’t even need to go French. A bottle of sparkling wine from Schramsberg Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley would impress even the Champs queen.
1. Margarita — Real Housewives of Atlanta
The ladies of Real Housewives of Atlanta love a Margarita, from fan favorite NeNe Leakes on down. Who can forget that time Kim Zolciak and Shereé Whitfield gossiped over the tequila cocktails, and Kim looked on horrified at the server making tableside guacamole, which she had never eaten, in a “rock” and called it “green garbage”? (Almost as memorable as that moment in the same episode when she spelled cat “K-A-T.”) In this way, at least, they have impeccable taste. There’s no wrong way to drink a Margarita, but you can’t beat a classic version made with blanco tequila, a premium orange liqueur like Cointreau and fresh lime juice. A little salt on half of the rim counteracts the sweetness and acidity, and makes you thirsty for more. The drink somehow works in any season. After a few, you may find yourself wondering, “Who gon’ check me, boo?”