According to the Department of Labor, just under 60% of all bartenders in America are women. While women are currently dominating the bar scene, it’s important to know that this was not always the case. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, and would not have been possible without some truly brave women throughout history stepping up in a male dominated industry.
Now, women are flourishing behind the bar, some of whom have made a name for themselves because of their talent, hard work, and persistence. In this blog, we pay homage to some of the most influential bartenders around the world today.
Laforge started learning the art of bartending while working at the Cheesecake Factory in the Prudential Center. She’s currently the head bartender/only female bartender at Blossom Bar and bartender at Franklin Cafe. The former is a new arrival on Boston’s craft cocktail scene that’s already earned a ton of acclaim; the latter is a South End institution that pours more beers than cocktails but is a local industry favorite. LaForge also has been Speed Rack New England’s Wild Card winner in back-to-back years, and she’s frequently sought out for cocktail competitions, like Thirst Boston’s Blender Bender.
Pentabona is the general manager of food and beverage at the soon-to-be-open Comedy Studio, and brand specialist for Leblon Cachaca. She’s been both a bartender and a bar manager who works behind the scenes at dozens of cocktail conferences and competitions, including Thirst Boston, San Antonio Cocktail Conference and the newly launched Chicago Style. She also organized Boston Service Industry VDay, a weeklong series of events and workshops to benefit organizations fighting to end violence against women.
Only three years in, the 27-year-old former architecture student made waves when she was named Diageo Reserve's Mexico's World Class Bartender. Tejada was the first woman from Mexico to take home the gold in 2015. Since then, her name has been splashed all over Spanish-speaking media, as well as international lifestyle and travel publications.
“At the beginning it was difficult, the culture in Mexico did not allow for certain standards, including not allowing women bartenders in bars,” says Tejada. “Now the doors are opening little by little and there are more women behind the bar, trying to be professional and make this not only a way of life, but a profession, a job and a passion.”
From 2010 to 2012, Gullo served as Head Bartender at Fort Defiance (another thirsty favorite) in Brooklyn, while helping to open The Beagle in East Village in 2011. In 2015, Gullo was tapped by award-winning bartender Ricky Gomez, to join the beverage team at Compère Lapin, where she worked alongside Gomez in developing the restaurant’s cocktail menu.
Since then, Gullo's picked up a few nods herself, including a People's Choice award for her stunning margarita at the massive industry conference Tales of the Cocktail in 2010, and 2016's Bartender of the Year award from Liquor.com. She left New Orleans in late 2018 to explore new opportunities in Seattle, but she carries with her all the prestige and impact of being one of the most recognized female bartenders in the business.
Getting her start at famous cocktail bar Milk & Honey, Christy Pope, co-founder of Cuffs & Buttons an international consultant company, had a natural talent for the drink-making industry. She initially moved to New York from Florida to try her hand at the music industry, but she lost her passion. From there, she found a second-calling behind the bar.
Pope is well-recognized and respected by her peers in the industry — and not simply for being one of its leading female members. She’s a fixture at the annual Tales of the Cocktail and is a recurring presenter in the mixology program at the StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress. In her stellar career, she’s been named “Trendsetter of the Year” in 2008 by Modern Bride and one of Food & Wine’s “100 Must Tastes of 2007.” In addition, Pope has also been featured in publications nationwide, including the New York Times, Gotham, and the Los Angeles Times.
Start Your Bartending Career with Online Training
If you have that inner passion to serve liquor and have a good time while doing it, you should definitely try your hand at the cocktail industry. Bartending, for one, is among the most entertaining and rewarding jobs out there. We’re not just talking about ‘good fun,’ since the trade itself offers a ton of opportunities to earn more and rank up!
Of course, anything that involves alcohol will require a license so you must not forget that after honing your craft, you have to take the required food and beverage training to get certified in your state. The good news is that you can do all of that bartending license training online, which means transitioning to this awesome career path should never be a problem once you’re set and ready to make a splash in the cocktail industry.