Words By Amy Morse and Ashley Schmidt, Photos By Franz Mahr
D.C.’s Creative Cocktail series celebrates awesome bartenders. For Women’s History Month, BYT partnered with Ideas Club to highlight some incredible women in the D.C. community who have made strides by expanding bikable streets, increasing equity for women in the workplace, increasing empathy through tech startups, making documentary films that expand our level of awareness in the world, and work on environmental justice advocacy. The accompanying Creative Cocktail Series recognizes noteworthy female bartenders for their drinks and paying homage to women who inspire them. Our ongoing series will feature meet ups at their bars to discuss relevant issues to our community (we recently hosted a meetup to discuss the Dana Perino re: dating men in DC over the Simone de Beauvoir at Le Diplomate). Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #DCCreativeCocktail.
April 15th is a major day of action for low wage workers and their campaign, Fight for $15. Did you know that the majority of low-wage workers are women? Increasingly, these women are the primary or co-breadwinners supporting their families. Raising the minimum wage would be a major direct benefit to the working poor and their children. As President Obama says – “no one should work full time and have to raise their family in poverty in America.” Despite gains in worker productivity, wages have remained flat and uneven for women. Women take on a disproportionate amount of additional work at home, and the relatively low pay hits them and their families hard. D.C. women have narrowed the wage gap significantly, and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranks our 87 cents to the man’s dollar at the top in the U.S. However, for working mothers, and those of us considering motherhood (economically irrationally?), the challenges are staggering. The lack of social safety net services in childcare, early childhood education, and paid parental leave make the U.S. an outlier among developed countries. Occasionally politicians blame “cultural issues” for the high number of poor women and children and recommend a return to the way things used to be. However, as Nicole Rodgers (also profiled in BYT) clarified recently in a Washington Post oped, Marriage is no safeguard against Poverty, and our nostalgia for a “golden era,” is more than anything, a historical aberration. When you see fast food workers striking today, consider the benefits to their families.
We hope you enjoy checking out these cocktails and meeting the incredible women behind them. We want to make the world a better place and build environments for collaboration. Please Tweet at us to suggest meetup topics!
Bartender at Red Hen
Cocktail Inspiration: “Heart of the Pearl”
Heart of the Pearl is a cocktail named after the former leader of the Philippines, Corzaon Aquino. The title is also a reference to the capital of the Philippines, known as the “Pearl of the Orient.” Corazon Aquino was the self-styled “Filipina housewife” who took up her assassinated husband’s political banner and lead the “People Power” movement, restoring democracy in the Philippines after decades of martial dictatorship. She was president of the Philippines from 1986-1992.
Sophia met President Aquino in 1992, when she was five years old and tagging along with her grandmother in Manila. Her grandmother was a nutritionist on a medical relief mission to help those displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. “Tita Cory,” as Aquino asked to be called, was a kind and intent listener. Sophia felt as if she were Aquino’s own grandchild. Sophia believes that Corazon Aquino is an example of the female ability to nurture individuals as well as lead nations. Aquino’s son is currently president of the Philippines.
Sophia’s cocktail is also inspired by Pilipino cooking and flavors. The sherry and rum are Spanish-styled, and her delicious hand-crafted Sugar Cane Vinegar Syrup showcases the essence of a key Pilipino ingredient. Sugar cane vinegar is a lynch pin in Pilipino cooking, which Sophia exposes you to in her cocktail. The jasmine water spritz and flowers, further takes you on a Pilipino journey.
Heart of the Pearl (meaning Corazon of Manila) Recipe
1 ½ oz. Lustau Solera Reserve Brandy de Jerez
¾ oz. El Dorado 12 year Rum
¾ oz. Sophia-Crafted Sugar Cane Vinegar Syrup
Spritz of Jasmine water
Dried Jasmine Flowers for garnish
Sophia- Crafted Cane Vinegar Syrup
1 part Datu Puti Cane Vinegar
1 part sugar
heat vinegar to just under boiling, add sugar and remove from heat, stir until sugar is dissolved, add 1.5 oz Fundador Brandy (signifying Spanish heritage of the Philippines)
Cocktail Inspiration: “The 11th Street Bridge”
Anne Hassoun, Nicole’s Mom, is a pioneering female Civil Engineer, a poet and a community activist. She showed Nicole what a brilliant woman can do. On top of making her mark professionally and creatively, Nicole’s Mom raised two awesome girls, showing through example women are never less than equal to a man. Anne taught Nicole to be strong, compassionate and to ALWAYS fight for women’s rights. She encourages young women to surpass any societal expectation and to lead an amazing life while doing it. Nicole has never met a woman who is more powerful, sweet, amazing and inspirational. In addition to the accolades, Anne taught Nicole how to love gin, which changed her life forever. Clearly Anne did a great job. Nicole was voted Best Bartender by the Washington Post in 2014 and launched the locally-sourced, gin-celebrating tonic company Chronic Tonic. Badass.
During her tenure at the D.C. Department of Transportation, Anne worked on the 11th Street Bridge Park design and community meetings. This bridge will be D.C.’s elevated parkway (just think of the High Line in NYC). The design of the bridge included exhaustive community outreach, meetings, stakeholder analysis with a lens on how this park and waterfront redevelopment could best serve D.C. residents. It is a remarkable project for the city and will be an awesome play space for D.C. kids and well, everyone (but we can and should do more to avoid displacing longtime D.C. residents with too many yuppies). Cheers to Nicole and her amazing Mom!
Her cocktail is a perfect afternoon delight. While one might anticipate a sweet sip from the light pinkness color of this cocktail, do not be deceived! Herbaceous, peppery and with a dry finish…the 11th Street Bridge is a perfect Sunday afternoon sipper for any gin lover. The cocktail glass she chose is unique and not widely found in DC (an ode to the Nick and Nora), and the addition of a dehydrated Oroblanco grapefruit slice is sure to impress. In addition, Nicole’s laughter and stories will fill a room.
The 11th Street Bridge Recipe:
2 oz Cap Rock Gin
1 oz Cocchi Americano
0.5 oz Grapefruit liqueur
0.5 oz pineapple juice
Shake, Strain into a coupe glass, top with a few drops of Green Chartreuse
Garnished with a dehydrated Oroblanco Grapefruit Peel/Slice
Bartender Jack Rose Dining Salon
Cocktail Inspiration: “Singing & Swinging”
Brittney designed a cocktail inspired by a pivotal moment in Maya Angelou’s life. The provocative poet, performer, and Civil Rights activist, wrote one of the most highly revered and banned books in U.S. history, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Maya loved drinking sherry. It was part of her writing ritual. She would check into a hotel, and sit at a desk with a bible, deck of cards and a bottle of sherry. She would drink one glass of sherry and start writing, once she was finished she would drink another glass of sherry and go to bed.
Less well known, are Maya’s wild days as a performer on global tour. This drink is about the moment of realization Maya had – after a drunken encounter with her fellow Porgy and Bess cast member (“Miss Fine Thang”) – when Maya decided to “grow up.” Maya’s autobiography Singin’, Swingin’ & Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas chronicles her life during her mid to late twenties. It was during this time when her artistry really developed. She sang professionally as a Calypso singer, worked as a dancer and eventually toured Europe with the musical Porgy and Bess. One night on tour, the cast threw a party – with lots of wine and whiskey. One attendee, Martha, had a bit too much and Maya was attempting to leave and tried to coax Martha to come with her. Martha threw her drink in Maya’s face and Maya responded by yanking her collar. Martha fell down a set of steps below them and lost her wig. As she adjusted her wig, a man rushed over and asked “Who pushed you down the steps!?” and a proud Martha responded, “No one pushed Miss Fine Thang, I fell.”
Maya realized she was done with her crazy party life. She was ready to go back to the U.S. and be a grownup.
Brittney’s laughs as she told the story of her cocktail were infectious and delightful. Her adventuresome-side comes out strong in this cocktail and one cannot help to think about the parallels this story makes to our own lives. Not only is Brittney a thoughtful, meticulous and creative bartender, she is a strong woman of multiple talents. Her strength comes from her family-her father’s five sisters- who were always opinionated, sharp and had something interesting to talk about. Brittney splits her time between working as support for Savor PR, a full-service public relations agency, behind the bar at Jack Rose Dining Saloon and Maple on 11th street. When she’s not working, she enjoys dance classes at Joy of Motion on H street, checking out good DJs, catching up with friends and solo dinners with a book in hand. We recommend visiting her at Jack Rose Dining Saloon, as her cocktail is worth the trip!
“Singin’ and Swingin’” Recipe:
1oz Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch
1oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
½ oz orgeat
3 Dashes Bittercube Orange Bitters
Stirred and served up in a coupe, topped with sparkling wine
Lemon peel garnish
Bartender Founding Farmers
Cocktail Inspiration: “I Put a Spell on You”
Shaleah’s creative cocktail is named after Nina Simone, an African American jazz, blues and folk singer, pianist and civil rights activist. She not only impacted society with her sultry and beautiful voice, but she used her music to advocate the civil rights movement in the 60’s. She described her own voice as sounding like gravel at times but at others times like coffee and cream. Shaleah’s cocktail is named after one of her most famous songs, “I Put a Spell On You.” The ingredients reference the many different sides of Nina that span the refreshing (tequila and lime/orange juices) to the smoky and sultry (smoked cinnamon glass and allspice liqour). One of Shaleah’s favorite ingredients- cinnamon-is a strong feature of this cocktail, but the tequila throws in just the right amount of spunk. Not to mention this cocktail is gorgeous! Shaleah has just moved from working at Founding Farmers, but with industry experience spanning over nine years, we can’t wait to see where she goes next.
“I Put a Spell” on You Recipe:
Smoke a cinnamon stick and a cedar plank inside an old fashion glass, generously rimmed with demerara sugar. Build the cocktail in a shaker tin:
1.5oz El Jimador Repesado Tequila
3/4oz lime juice
3/4oz cinnamon syrup
1/2oz St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Liquor
Serve over large ice cube wrapped in large range spiral, knotted on top
General Manager and Head Bartender McClellan’s Retreat
Cocktail Inspiration: The Hanky Panky
Megan’s love for history, and more importantly, the history of cocktails inspired her to highlight the story behind one the classics of cocktails-The Hanky Panky. Ada Coleman (aka Coley), created the The Hanky Panky as Head Bartender at The Savoy in London back in 1925. At the time it was very unusual to have a woman bartend, much less run an elaborate bar program that is still the envy and study of many great bartenders today. As Megan is General Manager and Head Bartender of McClellan’s Retreat in a very male dominated cocktail scene in DC, she can relate.
The story behind the name of the Hanky Panky goes like this: Regular, Sir Charles Hawtrey (a well-known Georgian actor) came in to the Savoy and said “Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a real punch.” So, she mixes up a cocktail, hands it to Sir Charles and he exclaims “By Jove! That is the real hanky panky!” The name stuck. Ada Coleman also went on to train another pioneer in the bar world who would later become her successor, Harry Craddock, author of ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’- a must for any aspiring cocktail creator.
Meagan’s appreciation and knowledge of cocktail history is rich. Having worked at the infamous Columbia Room prior to McClellan’s Retreat, this girl can make a mean cocktail to order. We highly recommend stopping by McClellan’s Retreat for a visit, it’s tucked away in North Dupont offering an underground, old American cabin bar, with a great bourbon selection and classic cocktail creations!
The Original Hanky Panky:
2 oz of Plymouth Gin
1.5 oz of Carpano Antica, Italian Sweet Vermouth
.25 oz of Fernet Branca
Garnished with an orange peel
Lead Bartender Roofers Union
The Coley Kahlo
Erin’s cocktail also paid homage to Ada Coleman’s Hanky Panky, but adds a Mexican twist to recognize famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Erin was inspired by Frida’s unwavering resolve to push through hardships. Frida Kahlo was a remarkable female artist of her time whose cadre of self-portraits depicted the reality of female experience and form. Her love for painting stemmed, unfortunately, from a time where she was left immobile for months following a trolley car accident. She started painting to pass the time and work through the pain. Her portraits were passionate and vibrant. She was a progressive painter who unabashedly painted herself exposing the psychological torments she faced-the good and the bad (ie: long periods of suffering related to her health issues, miscarriages, lust, relationship struggles and pain). Erin loved her whimsical approach to painting and resilience in the face of adversity. Her cocktail highlights the spirits and flavors of Central America. Her cocktail ingredient highlight is the Mexican Coke Reduced Syrup to which she added Fernet Branca. It’s delicious!
Erin is lead bartender at Roofers Union who knows best how to make complex syrups that add depth to cocktails without sacrificing speed-catering to large volumes. It’s nice to know you can still get a decent cocktail even in a packed bar!
The Coley Kahlo Recipe:
2 oz Orange-Tamarind infused Gin
½ oz Chamomile infused Dolin Rouge
¼ oz “Erin-Made” Fernet Branca -Mexican Coca-Cola Syrup
Garnished w/flamed orange peel and tangerine lace
Serve in a large rocks glass with one large cube