The Feminine Mixtique: 8 Women Driving the City’s Cocktail Culture

Today, New York’s bar scene has finally turned the tide where being a woman in the industry is no novelty.

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Jillian Vose of The Dead Rabbit. Photo credit: Facebook/Dead Rabbit NYC

There’s something going on in NYC’s bar culture, and it’s not the cresting of a hottest, latest tipple trend or a sleek, re-worked new bar tool for ergonomic stirring.

It’s the long over-due recognized relevance of great women behind the bar.

We’ve come a long way from the days of McSorley’s he man, woman shunners club. Today, New York’s bar scene has finally turned the tide where being a woman in the industry is no novelty. Strong, savvy, creative role models Audrey Saunders and Julie Reiner not only paved the way and mentored many of the most talented women (and men) the cocktail industry knows, they also are responsible for some of Gotham’s best bars to date (Pegu Club, Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club and the dearly departed Lani Kai to name a few).

The truth of it, though, is these women are great bartenders, regardless of gender. With finesse, talent, and the kind of fine-tuned palates that make them something akin to sensory super heroes, the women below are not only making some of the city’s best cocktails, they’re running some of the coolest bars in town, too. And the really great thing? This list isn’t even sort of close to an exhaustive list! Cheers to progress in Suffragette City.

Lynette Marrero

A founder and president of NYC’s chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), the marvelous Marrero cut her teeth at Reiner’s Flatiron Lounge, killed it at Freeman’s and has been unstoppable since. She’s the co-founder of the breast-cancer battling, all-female cocktail competition, Speed Rack, and is as well-versed in Champagne as she is rum. If you’re lucky, she’ll be the cocktail consultant for a swank event near you.

Jillian Vose

Cool as the dew in Tullamore, Vose took over as bar manager for the Dead Rabbit this past winter (which, since its inception, we might add, has been wonderfully progressive in its staffing of formidable female bartenders), splitting her time between the busy downstairs and more refined concoctions on the second floor. She recently helped to create a swathe of new sips on the 64-strong cocktail list, which I highly recommend you get in there to try.

Eryn Reece

She was lured from the West Coast and fine-tuned her shake and stir under the venerable Tony Abou Ganim. Since then, she has graced some of the city’s finest cocktail spots. She’s a founding member of LUPEC NY, and the dame of Death & Co., where they’re lucky enough to have her as bar manager.

Ivy Mix

Co-founder with Lynette Marrero of the cancer-kicking competition, Speed Rack, Ivy Mix has been a fixture on the NYC cocktail scene since she started out at Mayahuel, and has since dazzled in stints at Fort Defiance and Lani Kai. Today, when not out riding horses or trying to kick cancer’s ass, you can find her at Cobble Hill’s Clover Club.

Lacy Hawkins

Bartender at the NoMad, Clover Club and the fastest and most exacting shaker in the east, Hawkins recently shook and stirred her way to the mantel of NY Speed Rack champ. Oh yeah, and this Portland, OR, native is also a skilled beekeeper. ‘Cause she’s just awesome like that.

Pam Wiznitzer

Smart women make great drinks. A Barnard grad who is also currently in the process of nabbing a master’s from NYU in food studies, Wiznitzer left her job mixing things up at the Dead Rabbit to recently help open, and is the beverage genius behind, the answer to the UES’s thirsty prayers, Seamstress.

Franky Marshall

She cut her teeth at Julie Reiner’s Clover Club, and has been a force with which to be reckoned since. The wonderful Ms. Franky is a past VP of the U.S. Bartenders Guild, has shaken things up at the Tippler, Clover Club and the Dead Rabbit, and is currently lending her wisdom educating on the topic of Cognac.

Tess Ann Sawyer

She of the lavender locks and formidable flair behind the bar, Sawyer came in a close second to the amazing Hawkins at the most recent NYC incarnation of Speed Rack. But if you’d like to drink in her talents at a more civilized speed, you’ll find her tending her trade at Mother’s Ruin.

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Amy Zavatto is the daughter of an old school Italian butcher who used to sell bay scallops alongside steaks, and is also the former Deputy Editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She holds her Level III Certification in Wine and Spirits from the WSET, and contributes to Imbibe, Whisky Advocate, SOMMJournal, Liquor.com, and others. She is the author of Forager's Cocktails: Botanical Mixology with Fresh, Natural Ingredients and The Architecture of the Cocktail. She's stomped around vineyards from the Finger Lakes to the Loire Valley and toured distilleries everywhere from Kentucky to Jalisco to the Highlands of Scotland. When not doing all those other things, Amy is the Director of the Long Island Merlot Alliance.