Mischa Bonova on Spain’s first female bartender



Mischa Bonova

Assistant Bar Manager, Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney

How have you seen the ‘boy’s club’ of the bartending industry change — if at all — in the time since you started in the industry?

Honestly I haven’t seen too many changes at all. I feel like there are very few women in our industry. Saying that though I need to admit that I am not going out too much so I do not know what is the situation with women behind the bar is like.


Could you tell us how you got to be where you are today?

I started off at small bar The Red Door in Surry Hills and after four months I moved to Zeta. I must admit that time I knew nothing about bartending what so ever. However the boys at Zeta were patient and I was very eager to learn too. After eight months spent there I moved to Stitch Bar where I spent a year and a half. I got more into competitions at Stitch and I was a sponge at that stage.Matteo Fabbris led and taught me and I understood where I belonged. The next step was Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney and it’s been more than a year since I started work there.

Do you think that “best female bartenders” lists are helpful, say, in raising the profile of women in the industry, or is it a bit patronising?

I don’t think it is helpful for anyone. Behind the bar are no women nor men. There are bartenders. If you want to raise your own profile and become famous, go for it. There shouldn’t be any advantages or disadvantages for anyone.

Are there any women in the industry that served as a role model for you?

Maria Dolores Boadas, the first Spanish female bartender. She spent all her life behind the bar, her and her father were famous for bringing more  attention to a throwing technique. She was a lady with a great charm and gentle movements.

Do you think there are barriers that women face in the industry that men don’t have to contend with?

I think that maybe some customers have a problem to accept a woman behind the bar as much as they can accept a man. And in my humble opinion I think that we have to work harder than men to succeed in the industry as this job is considered to be job for a ‘man’. However this has been a problem since early days of bartending. But everybody can see that this has changed rapidly in last decades and it is improving every year. A great examples is Audrey Saunders.

If so, what do you think can be done about it? 

I think that this job is hard and it is not for everyone. It depends on the individuality of a woman, how far she wants to go and how much time/effort/practice, etc she is willing to invest into her career. At the end it is our choice of career and we know what we are going for. I think it literally depends only on woman herself how she deals with it.

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