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'Drink Like A Woman:' A Toast to History and Cocktails

Traditionally, the tavern was a place where predominantly men went for fellowship and libations. Today, bars see a clientele pretty well divided between men and women, and the people serving the drinks are more likely to be women than ever before.

Yet some stereotypes persist about drinks that men like, and those that appeal to women.  Milwaukee writer Jeanette Hurt tries to deconstruct some of those myths in her new book, Drink Like a Woman: Shake. Stir. Conquer. Repeat. The book features profiles of more than 70 women from history, literature and pop culture, along with their own cocktail recipe; from Rosé the Riverter to the DNA Colada and the Frida Kahlúa.

"Women like to drink as many things as they like to wear, as many things as they like to eat, as many careers as they choose to go into - you can't make an assumption," says Hurt. 

Credit Illustrations by Paige Clark / Courtesy of Jeanette Hurt/Seal Press
Courtesy of Jeanette Hurt/Seal Press
"For all the valid complaints about the dearth of female characters in the original Star Wars universe, let's not forget that Princess Leia was anything but a doormat."

She also notes that it’s pretty outdated to expect women (or men) to hew to any particular line. "We don't call different kinds of wine or beer 'girly' or 'manly,' why do we have that vocabulary with cocktails?"

For much of history, there have been societal and legal restrictions on women serving alcohol. In fact, women in California weren't officially allowed to bartend until 1971, according to Hurt. Today, 60% of all bartenders are women, compared to just 0.3% in 1895.

To reflect this changing demographic and women's influence on modern bartending, Hurt compiled interviews from more than 30 women - ranging from bartenders, distillery owners and brand ambassadors. A few local mixologists featured include Katie Rose from Goodkind and Katie Stewart from the Iron Horse Hotel.

For Hurt, she wants the book to appeal not only to the average drink consumer, but also to the people manning the bar.

"I wanted it to be clear, but I also didn't want to bore people that know what they're doing," she says. "The other thing that was really fun was researching women's history, and of course the drinks have fun names like 'The Zeldapolotan.'"

Credit Courtesy of Jeanette Hurt/Seal Press
Courtesy of Jeanette Hurt/Seal Press

Jeanette Hurt will talk about Drink Like a Woman - and much more – at several upcoming events, including Saturday at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, Monday evening at the Great Lakes Distillery and Thursday evening at the Iron Horse Hotel

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.