Women in whisk(e)y — and three great recipes


Women have always been drinking whisky — it’s just these days there’s more and more women drinking it. We spoke to three top bartenders about their experience with whisk(e)y, and got three cracking recipes.

Paige Aubort

The Lobo Plantation

You career has many highlights, what is your proudest moment?
Creating and launching Coleman’s Academy. A not for profit organisation that focuses on empowering women in the industry.

What is your first whisk(e)y memory?
Drinking Jack and Coke’s in a can, underage, in a poorly lit community park with my friends. Probably shouldn’t say that though… It may not be my first but my most memorable would be walking into Baxter’s for their opening night. Looking up at the most impressive wall of whisky I’ve ever seen and not knowing where to start. Luckily, Ben Light talked me through several different whiskies before landing on Auchentoshan Three Wood (no joke!).


To this day I still drink my whisky neat and am partial to more honeyed, less peated whiskies although nowadays you’ll finding me in search of cask strength styles.

Whisky has been enjoying a rise in popularity among both the younger generation and women. Why do you think this is?
Because external influences, on both a micro and macro level, have made it cool. Places like Baxter’s and Shady’s, who have such an incredible influence on an influential city, have started to educated and present whiskey in an interesting, palatable and affordable way. On a wider scale, mainstream culture (movies, TV shows, music) idolises characters who are renowned for drinking whisky.

As for women in particular, I couldn’t tell you. They’ve always been drinking whisky — that I do know. I believe that these days there are venues which are more welcoming, inclusive and appealing to women. Where there once was (and no doubt will always be) men’s clubs, for investment bankers competing to see who can spend the most you also have bars making sure that women feel safe, engaged and comfortable to sit at the bar top and have those cherished interactions with attentive staff. Investing in your guests, regardless of gender, will always see you returned with loyalty to your offering.


Highlands Lowlands

50ml Auchentoshan Classic
10ml Apricot Brandy
10ml Falernum
25ml White Peach/Nectarine puree
5 dashes of absinthe
30ml lemon
Dash of egg white

Dry Shake, then shake with ice.
Serve in a rocks glass with cubed ice.
Mint sprig for garnish,

Gemma Duff

Neighbourhood Bondi

When did you first become a whisk(e)y lover – and why?
It wasn’t straight away, it came as I started to understand alcohol and the story that goes with it. As my taste buds started to develop so did my interest and love of whiskey. It’s classy, complex, and tells a great story. it’s all the things I would like to be.

Whilst behind the stick, what do you say to whisk(e)y sceptics – especially women who claim whiskey is not their choice of spirit?
Is there anything sexier than a woman in a bar with a great sense of style and purpose, knowing exactly what she wants? Whiskey is one of those spirits that grows with you, there are so many different flavours and elements and getting to know which one is “you” is one of the great things about finding which one you like. Also, don’t blame the entire spirit category for one night where your bartender friend talked you into shooting rye and you threw up all over your mum’s new boyfriend. Go back, revisit, whiskey can be whatever you want it to be, a slow sipper neat or a long drawn out story over ice or mixed up into a cocktail that is both strong and sweet.

Which style or region of whisky would be your preferred preference?
I’ve always had a taste for rye, it was America’s favourite spirit prior to prohibition and it’s zesty and spicy, leaves a mark. Otherwise, after dark, Hibiki 17 is perfect on a big block of ice.


My’Lady Daisy

50ml Jim Beam Rye Whiskey
10ml Honey syrup
Passionfruit pulp
20ml lemon juice
Top with lavender soda.

Thalita Alves

The Gresham

Given your recent career successes, what’s your favourite whisk(e)y cocktail?
My favourite whisky cocktail is a well made Manhattan. With little twists it turns into heaven right inside your mouth. I made this one and served it at the bar two weeks ago to mister Dan Woolley who happened to like it. The recipe was:


Manhattan Variation

45ml Laphroaig Quarter Cask
25ml Bache Gabrielsen Pineau des Charentes 20yo (or any rich medium sweet style of fortified wine)
10ml Antica Formula
2 drops Orange bitters
1 drop Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and pour into a chilled coupette. Spray orange oils from distance, don’t rub on the rim to avoid any bitter notes, discard peel.

Why do you think some women shy away from whisk(e)y?
Not only women, but people sometimes shy away from whisky (and cocktails) because they don’t want to look ‘silly’ when ordering something that they don’t fully understand.

An approachable bartender, aware of his patrons, can usually pick that and find a way around it. I must add that we have plenty of women at the bar drinking and understanding whisky as much (or more) as men these days.

How do you convert people who say they ‘don’t drink whisk(e)y’?
When I hear that sentence I always try to mention the facts that impressed me when I first experienced drinking whisky.

Firstly, there are thousands of whiskies from around the globe, they are all completely different from each other. Basically it is just a matter of finding the right one for you.

I usually try to showcase a couple of different bottles with very different characters, even pour a few ml for my guest to nose.

If that doesn’t help the choice, since the whisky is already in the glass, I simply bring up the second
important fact when it comes to whisky: nobody is born drinking and loving it.

You need to train your palate to this new adventure, just like you learned how to enjoy so many other flavours as you grew up.

After that usually my customers are keen for a quick guided “tour” with the couple of the whiskies suggested and already poured. It is a bit time consuming, but in my personal experience excellent customer care goes a long way. That really makes all the difference.

As we are travelling through and finishing the first two drams, I would have already mentioned a third one, very special, different, I say that ‘tastes like smoke’… I suggest we should maybe leave it for the next time.

Nobody ever left it to another day! Suddenly you have sold three whiskies and you engaged a new customer into the whisky world. Someone that is very likely to come back to try another three and fall in love with this complex spirit even more.

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