While we usually go to a bar just to grab a drink and have a chill time, it's really nice to come across a bar with a story. These bars all have roots with kickass bartenders or founders, and we love it!
1. Butter & Scotch
Butter & Scotch is a bar and bakery located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and cofounded by Allison Kave and her business partner Keavy Landreth. "We both had successful dessert companies previously (a pie business and a cupcake business, respectively), and teamed up to open our first brick and mortar. I also used to moonlight as a bartender for years, and have a real passion for cocktails, which is how the bar element figures into our scenario. We opened just over two years ago, and have developed an amazing staff and some incredible supporters, both locals and across the country," says Kave.
Feminism is a big part of the company culture: both owners are women, management staff is always staffed by women, and most of the team is comprised of women. “After the recent election, politics and feminism became a more concrete and focused part of our business, and we launched our current cocktail menu in January. Titled Winter of Women, it features cocktails with names like Smash the Patriarchy, This Pussy Grabs Back, and Not My President. $1 from every cocktail sold all winter is going to Planned Parenthood. We've also held events like Drunk Dialing Congress, where we give out free shots to anyone who calls their congressional reps. Despite the political tone, we are all about fun and indulgence, and have become a refuge of sorts for people who need to treat themselves to some cake and a cocktail, while drinking for a good cause!" says Kave.
2. Myrtle's Punch House
Molly Wellmann of Cincinnati is a self-taught mixologist who immersed herself in the history of cocktails, particularly those from the 1700's to 1950's. She is known for taking fresh ingredients like simple syrups, juices and bitters to create innovative takes on these classic cocktails. She has turned her skills and business acumen into a cocktail empire in the Cincinnati area, owning multiple bars across the city, including Myrtle's Punch House and Japp's. Since 1879, she authored the book Handcrafted Cocktails: The Mixologist's Guide to Classic Drinks for Morning, Noon & Night, gave speeches and demos on cocktails - particularly bourbon, and recently opened a full–service restaurant and cocktail bar at Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center.
3. Treadwell Park
Anne Beccerra, the Beverage Director and Beer Cicerone at Treadwell Park on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is the first woman in NYC to become a Certified Cicerone. Anne has worked at the helm of some of the best beer bars in Manhattan including Blind Tiger, The Ginger Man and The Pony Bar. She was named one of the "Heroes of the Craft Beer Movement" by Vanberg and DeWulf Imports and has helped to organize major beer festivals around the world. She was also asked to be a part of the New York tasting panel with Riedel and Spiegelau, which helped create the first ever IPA beer glass. Anne was one of the few people to represent the beer industry at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Anne loves spreading the word about great craft beer almost as much as drinking it!
4. Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company
Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company is owned by the badass mother of four daughters, Hilary Passman. Not only does she single-handedly raise her kids and own a brewery, she also runs a bakery called Devil's Teeth Baking Company. Hilary Passman opened the doors of Sunset Reservoir Brewing Company in January of 2015 with one mission: to bring delicious food to her neighborhood, the Outer Sunset District of San Francisco. But this was not her first culinary venture in the neighborhood; Passman opened local hotspot Devil's Teeth Baking Company in 2011.
Over the years, she has transformed her quaint neighborhood into a dining destination for family and friends alike to enjoy house brews and excellent food. Surprisingly, Passman did not start her career in restaurants; in fact, she started off as a lawyer. While balancing her job and raising four daughters, she decided to find a more flexible career that allowed her to spend more time with her children. Passman began to sell custom wedding cakes on Craigslist, and due to high demand, eventually opened a full-time business out of her house. Passman realized that as she gathered more clients, she needed more space. This led Hilary to open her first store, Devil's Teeth Baking Company.
Kat Hunter, Executive Bartender at Bourbon in downtown Columbia, SC., is a roller-derby enthusiast and veteran of Columbia's drinking scene. By day, she peruses antique shops in search of vintage cocktail books for inspiration. By night, she slings killer drinks. One of her signature cocktails is the Frankly, My Dear: a whiskey and vanilla concoction featuring flaming orange zest. It's just the right amount of smokiness-meets-citrus while allowing the whiskey to shine. But don't just take our word for it. Kat has won Columbia's Avion Margarita Challenge and a Jager Spice Cocktail Bartender Challenge. She was also invited to MG Road Bar & Lounge in Asheville, NC to participate in a one-night guest bartender exchange. Next month, she'll be crafting a spring bloom champagne cocktail for the James at City Roots Farm in Columbia.
6. Drink Company
Angie Fetherston is the CEO of Drink Company, which owns and operates four bars in Washington, DC: James Beard-Award-nominated Columbia Room, Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency and Eat the Rich. Last year, Fetherston was inducted into the LUPEC Dame Hall of Fame at Tales of the Cocktail and was just recognized this week as one of the rising stars on the DC culinary scene. She is also the brains behind Drink Company's series of viral pop-up bars, including Miracle on 7th and the current iteration, the Cherry Blossom PUB, which have both seen 2-hour lines around the block each night. (More than 50,000 patrons visited Miracle over the holiday season.) Angie's sister, Adriana Salame, is a bartender at all of Angie's bars.
7. Devil's Den
Erin Wallace is one of Philadelphia's premiere beer experts. Her craft-beer-focused bar Devil's Den is popular among beer geeks and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Erin is often behind the stick herself and with her team, craft a myriad of beer cocktails and traditional cocktails.
8. Cardinal Spirits
Baylee Pruitt, Alexandra Utter and Alyvia Cain are all behind the bar at Cardinal Spirits, Bloomington's first and only distillery. Baylee and her husband Chris are concocting all sorts of amazing tiki cocktails for the distillery's weekly Tiki Tuesdays. Alex is the master behind drinks like the Lady Rizzo and Alyvia is the brains behind cocktails like the Bye Bye Birdie. These ladies' creativity knows no bounds.
9. Del Sur Mexican Cantina
Sabrina and Natasha Mitchell of Del Sur Mexican Cantina in South Park are two ladies who not only kick ass behind the bar, but also kick ass as a team! The two are married, and can really stir up some synchronicity behind the bar. Together they create new libations, menu items and seasonal ingredients for crave-worthy cocktails. They have both been featured nationally on Tales of the Cocktail, sharing advice on cutting folks off of the sauce. These two have it all: personality, dedication and attitude. Del Sur is located in San Diego, Calif. and serves up delicious and healthy Mexican food for locals and visitors alike. The dog-friendly, vegetarian and vegan-friendly hot spot stays on top of trends like Jackfruit while still cooking up some of the best carnitas on this side of the border!
Sabrina and Natasha Mitchell
10. Avery Bar
Sterling Jackson is at the helm of the Avery Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston. What's so great or different about her? She's the perfect example of the fact that women can adapt or realign their career goals for success. She was a pastry chef and pastry supervisor for the luxury hotel company before deciding to follow her true passion – cocktail making. But she definitely didn't leave her "sweet" skill set behind. She says she uses her eye for precision, and to always create something eye-catching that will wow the senses – first when the guest sees it, then when the guest tastes and enjoys the cocktail she mixed behind the bar. Sterling Jackson has been a lead mixologist at the award-wining Avery Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston since its debut in 2011. In this role, she creates and executes the lounge's craft cocktail program, which changes seasonally and is often influenced by Jackson's stream of steady regulars. Jackson approaches cocktail-making with the creative and scientific precision of a pastry chef, since she previously served as pastry supervisor for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. She was the pastry supervisor at both The Ritz-Carlton in Boston and The Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove, Florida for more than seven years. She also served as pastry chef at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, Washington. In her roles as pastry chef and supervisor, Jackson's creative vision had her making cakes, pastries and chocolate sculptures that were both impactful and delicious. She also liaisoned with local farmers to source the freshest ingredients possible. She maintains this same commitment to source and utilize local products and spirits for the cocktails she creates in Avery Bar, all while crafting beverages that impress even the most discerning social drinker. Under her direction, Avery Bar has been named "Boston's Best Hotel Bar" by Boston Magazine and is an ongoing winner in local spirits and beverage competitions.
"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.
For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.
I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.
The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.
The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.
And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.
Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.
I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"
Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.
But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.
I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.
*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.