(Illustration by Valley Of The Virgos)
International Women’s Day is here and, wonderfully, celebrating women who choose to challenge the drinks industry and its age-old status quo isn’t a hard feat at all. In fact, the abundance of innovative, inventive, ingenious women mixing and muddling and managing has never been higher.
From cocktail creators to bar managers, mixologists to bar owners, challenging staid tradition has long been a signature of our trade. Remember when Jerry Thomas released his “Bar-Tenders’ guide” and changed the way we make cocktails forevermore? Well, probably not, it was in 1862, after all.
Or, when Carrie Bradshaw single-handedly drank a fictional-Manhattan dry of Cosmopolitans, cementing it the tipple of choice for hardworking modern women everywhere?
Basically, our industry is there to be challenged: to be forced to keep innovating the classics and perfecting our inventions. And who better to celebrate on International Women’s Day than the women who are pushing us ever forward and ever farther?
Stephanie Macleod, John Dewar and Sons Master Blender
Master Blender of the Year in the International Whisky Competition had never been awarded to a woman until Stephanie Macleod won the coveted title in 2019. Hailed for her incredible work as master blender for John Dewar and Sons, Macleod’s openly said that she’s always reminding people that there are no rules when it comes to whisky.
“People shouldn’t be frightened of whisky, it’s versatile,” she said, speaking to Difford’s Guide. “You don’t have to drink it neat or add a dash of water, unless that’s what you really want. You can add ice, soft drinks, however, you enjoy it.”
So, if you’ve been wanting to dip another toe in the whisky world, take this as your sign to go for it.
Monica Berg, Bartender and Entrepreneur
There’s nothing quite like winning the respect of your peers, right? To know that the people you rate, rate you. For Monica Berg, co-owner of East London haunt Tayēr + Elementary, winning the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award in 2019 proved just that. Not only did she have the accolade of her contemporaries but she also had a bar that debuted at no. 52 on the extended World’s Best Bars list.
Her attitude to drinking? That it should be an intimidation-free zone, open to interpretation and experimentation – a challenge to the exclusivity that can often shade our trade.
“Drinking should be fun. You shouldn't go to a bar and be scared to order,” she said, in conversation with 50beststories.com, explaining that deliciousness should always be the goal for good bartenders.
“Spirits have changed, ingredients have changed, people have changed, so it's only natural that cocktails evolve.”
Jaega Wise, Wild Card Head Brewer, TV Presenter, Musician
A brewer with award-winning beers under her belt, Chemical Engineer turned Wild Card Head Brewer Jaega Wise has taken her know-how from the brewery to the small screen, presenting Channel 5’s The Wine Show and BBC’s The Food Programme. A rosy end to an unsettled year for the drinks industry, Wise was awarded the Best Beer Broadcaster by the British Guild of Beer Writers in December.
But, as well as leading the brewing team at the Walthamstow-based outfit, Wise’s career is about as broad as it gets. When she’s not brewing, she’s either making music, on-screen presenting or challenging outdated and sexist alcohol ad standards.
Recently writing on Instagram, Wise shared that her usual International Women’s Brew Day celebration would have to be postponed due to coronavirus, she’s put together a tasting pack instead to sip along with her on Instagram live. For more deets, head to her post.
The CM x