world of cocktails and women

“Dr. Nice believes that a long list of books authored by women make a strong case for the role of the female homemaker in the popularity of the cocktail.”

– Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Throughout ancient and medieval times, women were often in charge of brewing beer and wine. They were also frequently accused of witchcraft and executed for it. However, during the Middle Ages, women successfully owned and operated taverns and bars. However, periodic legal reforms would place additional restrictions and burdens on their operations. And in the 19th century, while barmaids became iconic status symbols, women who sought to patronize bars and saloons were often excluded or even arrested for prostitution.

No place for women behind the bar

When most people think of cocktails, they think of the glamorous life of a bartender: mixing drinks for beautiful people in chic bars and lounges. But the story of cocktails is much more than that. It’s the story of how bartenders have shaped the world we live in today. It’s the story of how women have shaped the world of cocktails.

The cocktail is one of the most enjoyable ways to socialise and drink. It’s also a great way to showcase a wide variety of different flavours in one glass. In the world of cocktails, women have been instrumental in the evolution of the cocktail.

No Place for Women Behind the Bar
Woman Serving Cocktails

Are cocktails all about Martinis, Vodka, Gins or Whisky?

Although when it comes to cocktails most of us think of Martinis and Manhattans, Gin and Whiskey. We don’t think of sweet liqueurs or fruit juice, or syrups that are flavoured with herbs and spices. We don’t think of women. But women have played a major role in the evolution of cocktails, and have been instrumental in the development of many of our most popular drinks.

For decades, bartenders have been telling the same stories, the ones about the great men of the cocktail. Now, the women who shaped the modern drink are getting the spotlight. The new narrative is about equal parts empowerment and booze. It’s a welcome change.

In the world of cocktails there is no place for Women!!

The world of cocktails is almost entirely male. From the bars where you sip an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan, to the books on bar management and the drinks themselves, cocktails are almost always defined, first and foremost, as a man’s world. Even today, at bars across the country, you will find only men working behind the bar. It is rare to find a female bartender, and when you do, you’ll usually find a cocktail waitress or hostess instead.

In earlier days it was common for women to work in family distilleries as barmaids and mixologists, but undercover, to avoid discovery and social embarrassment. In the 18th century while the barmaids still ruled the roost, things changed when a group of men decided to rule the bar and barred the women from their place in bars. Women were discouraged to drink, the male domination also stripped women from their right to earn their living from serving alcohol. By the turn of the 19th Century, heavy drinking or even drinking was considered immoral for women and a drunk woman was usually considered a prostitute. Women started keeping small bottles with their kitchen supplies and would even rely on patent medicines that contained 20% proof alcohol to satiate the urge, hidden from the scathing view of the menfolk.

The history of cocktails is long, complex and often male-dominated. But while female bartenders and servers have been present in bars since the first Gin Joint, they’ve rarely been mentioned or studied in the same way as their male counterparts. This has led to cocktail histories that often gloss over women’s contributions, or only tell the story from a male perspective. It also means that women’s stories and experiences have often been forgotten or ignored entirely.

world of cocktails and women
Women in American cocktail culture

Women in American Cocktail Culture

Cocktail has been an important part of American and Canadian culture for centuries. Whether you prefer a whiskey sour or an Old Fashioned, the cocktail is the drink of choice when you want to taste something refreshing on a hot day. The cocktail also has a rich history, and while many people know about how the Old Fashioned was invented, very few know that it was originally served to women. Today, the Old Fashioned is almost always served to men, and women seldom get the chance to enjoy a drink that was originally meant for them.

American society has looked at alcohol drinking as a sign of a woman’s immaturity, deviance and weakness. The association of drinking with female ‘wildness’ and ‘sloppiness’ also played a role in the rejection of women who drank alcohol.

Even in the late 1980s pubs had the authority to refuse women from spending money if they weren’t accompanied by a man.

The world of spirits is a world of women

The world of spirits is a world of women. But for too long, the industry has been dominated by men. The question has been: How do we celebrate all women’s roles in the world of Spirits? The answer: We don’t have to.

The world of spirits is filled with women who have roles that go far beyond pouring drinks and serving ice. Some are known for their innovative ideas and flair for the dramatic. Others are known for their deep knowledge of barrel ageing and distilling. The world of spirits is rich with women who have roles that go far beyond serving drinks and serving ice.

Over the past few years, the world of spirits has seen an exciting era of growth and innovation. Distilleries and ageing cellars have opened their doors to female-led small-batch whiskey, gin, and other spirit brands. Female whiskey makers like Brenne, Ryesbury, and Artemis have brought innovative, and complex whiskey to market. Female-owned distilleries like Rebecca Harris of Catoctin Creek, Jill Kuehler and Molly Troupe of Freeland Spirits, Myra Barginear of Paul Sutton Bourbon and Nicole Austin of George Dickel (Cascade Hollow Distilling) have begun to gain notice for their whiskey. Women have shaped how we perceive alcohol and its role in a social gathering. They have also left an indelible mark on our memories. But perhaps the most lasting and important contributions of women to the cocktail culture are the ones we have yet to recognize.

Woman Brewer
Celebrate Women

It’s time to celebrate all women’s roles in the world of cocktails

As a society, we have long looked at alcohol drinking as a symptom of women’s immaturity, deviance and weakness. The association of drinking with female wildness and sloppiness also played a role in the rejection of women who drank alcohol. Today, we recognize the many women who have contributed to the cocktail culture – from the women who worked behind the scenes at bars and saloons to the women who were the face of the drink, whether as promoters or prohibitionists. Even though women have long been involved in the drink, it is only in the past few decades that their contributions to the cocktail culture have been recognized.

Betsy Flanagan -The Mother of Cocktails

The Mother of Cocktails, The Original Woman of the Bar, The Queen of Mixology – you might have heard these names before. But who is Betsy Flanagan? And why should you care? I’ll tell you.
Flanagan was one of the first female bartenders in America, and she quickly made a name for herself as a master mixologist. She was responsible for inventing or popularising many of the cocktails we know and love today, including the Margarita, the Cosmopolitan, and the Kamikaze. In addition to her bartending skills, Flanagan was also an accomplished businesswoman, owning and operating several successful bars and restaurants over the course of her career.
So why isn’t Flanagan more widely known? She worked in an era when women were not typically involved in the bartending profession. As a result, much of Flanagan’s work went unrecorded and her contributions were largely forgotten – until now.

One of the stories also claims that the word Cocktail comes from her unique way of garnishing a cocktail with a cockerel’s feather.

The Story goes like this – in 1770s Betsy Flanagan, served drinks decorated with brightly coloured cock tails that is feathers from a rooster, to the French soldiers who were helping Americans in their fights for independence
The barkeep at the Black Boar in Falador, Betsy Flanagan, claims to have served drinks to unsuspecting patrons garnished with more unusual items.

Betsy Flanagan
Valentine Goseart

Valentine Goesaert

Valentine Goesaert was a barmaid in Michigan in the 1940s who fought to win back her bartending license. She had been convicted of a crime and, as a result, her license was taken away. However, she appealed the decision and won, becoming the first woman in Michigan to be granted a bartending license. This victory was significant not only for herself, but also for other women who were seeking to enter the bartending profession.

Valentine’s appearance in front of the Supreme Court was an inspiration for barmaids across Michigan. It was the first time that a woman had testified before the court on behalf of herself and other women. Valentine’s testimony helped convince the court to overturn a lower court ruling that had denied women the right to serve as bartenders in Michigan. The case opened the door for women to enter into previously male-dominated occupations.

After a lengthy legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the barmaids, and they were given the right to serve alcohol. This decision was an inspiration for barmaids across Michigan, and it helped to improve their working conditions and pay. Finally, as a result of this battle, after 10 years  of “Bartending Act” which put a stop to female barmaids, The Michigan Law was revoked.

Jennie Churchill

Jennie Jerome Churchill, née Jennie Jerome, also called (1895 –  1921) Lady Randolph Churchill, (born January 9, 1854, Brooklyn Heights, New York City [U.S.] – died June 29, 1921, London, England), American-born wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and mother of British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Jennie Jerome Churchill, an American socialite, actress, and writer. She is credited with inventing the Manhattan cocktail*. The story goes that she created the drink for a party at the Manhattan Club in New York City in 1874. The Manhattan quickly became a popular drink, and it remains one of the most popular cocktails to this day.
There are many variations on the Manhattan, but the classic recipe calls for whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The drink is typically served neat (without ice) or on the rocks (with ice).

A classic recipe of Manhattan  you can find here

NOTE: Although from historical evidence, at the time of invention of this drink Lady Churchill was pregnant and was in France. So we cannot credit her as the inventor of this drink. Instead it was Dr. Iain Marshall, invented this drink at a banquet.

Jennie Churchill
Margarita, Marjorie and Rita Hayward

Margarita, Marjorie  and Rita Hayworth

There are actually three women said to have been the root of the Margarita: Marjorie King, who was a dancer at Dallas’ Zanzibar Club in the 1930s and was allergic to all liquor except tequila.
Rita Hayworth, who was given the drink while filming the movie “Gilda” in 1946.
Margarita Sames, who claimed to have invented the drink while entertaining friends at her Acapulco home in 1948. All three stories are plausible, but the most likely origins of the cocktail are with Sames. The drink first became popular in America during the 1950s.

Presence and acceptance of women in bar tending and serious mixology in modern America and how it is gaining popularity

There is a growing trend of acceptance of women in bartending and serious mixology in modern America. Although there have been strides made in recent years, much work remains to be done. Women are now being given the opportunity to learn about and excel in these fields, and their presence is being recognized more and more. With time, perhaps society will see bartending and mixology as just another facet of the female experience.

woman Drinking

Did you know that a "Stiff Drink" is originally stuff that horror stories are made of?

In early 19th Century America, whiskey was served straight from barrels and these barrels of low quality hooch was also used by grave diggers to store and transport stolen bodies, since the alcohol prevented the bodies from rotting, and could pass off as barrels of whiskey in transport,

The worst part is, once the bodies were transported over the newly laid railroad and were off loaded at the laboratories, the thieves wouldn't discard the whiskey and would sell it to unsuspecting customers. These were called Stiff Drinks.

  • Simple Guide to Cocktail Glasswareany-glass

    When there is no specific glass suggested for a cocktail, it's up to you to chose a glass.
    Either you just go ahead and serve using any glass available to you following these simple rules
    A. Go for Tall or Collins Glasses, Highball Glasses or even Hurricane Glasses for cocktails with loads of non-alcoholic mixes, and those that require crushed or cubed ices,
    B. But if your cocktail is aromatic and liqueur based, and has a complex character that must reach the nose use a wide mouthed Cocktail Glass.
    C. Red Wine Glasses for cocktails that have a Red Wine as the base spirit. Red Wine Glasses have a wider mouth and a long stem, so that the wine can be swirled an aerated to release the aroma while the long stem keeps the fingers away and avoid quick warming of the wine.
    D. White Wine Glasses for cocktails with a White Wine base, since White Wines must not be aerated as much as a Red Wines, since they oxidise fast when in contact with air, White Wine glassware, in contrast to the wide mouthed bowl of a Red Wine Glassware, is narrow with a narrow mouth. A White Wine has much lighter and delicate notes and the narrow mouth and less surface area in contact with air helps retain the aroma.
    E. If your cocktail is based on a Sparkling Wine like Champagne then a Flute Glass is more suitable since a Sparkling Wine is a White Wine with a secondary fermentation that produces the bubbles, and the narrow mouth flute prevents the bubbles from escaping.
    F. If it's winter and you are in the mood for some hot cocktails like the Irish Coffee or Hot Toddy, go for the Irish Coffee Glass, it has a heat resistant glass and a handle.
    G. Martini Glasses for Martinis or "Tinis" in general, but since these glasses have fallen off of favour these days, a Cocktail Glass will be good too.
    H. IF you are serving Margaritas, don't look for Margarita Glass if you don't have one at home, Double Old Fashioned Glass or other glasses are more common these days, for serving Margaritas.
    I. If you are the adventurous one, and are serving shots or shooters, of course the Shot Glass is your choice of glass,
    J. Finally, if you are going all out and serving depth charges and car bomb shots, all you need is a Double Old Fashioned Glass or a Beer Mug for the beer and a shot glass to drop the bomb in.

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