In honour of International Women’s Day, bars around Perth tonight are serving $12 iconic cocktails created by women. The catch? Guests have to order their drinks from one of the female bartenders on duty.
“There are still people who’ll go to a bar and head straight for the guy bartender for service,” says Elise Godwin, bar manager at Fremantle’s Strange Company and one of the people driving tonight’s offer. “They assume that the guy knows more, especially when it comes to whisky and beer. I still get people asking to speak to the manager and get surprised when I tell them I am the manager. We just want to start that discussion.”
This initiative is Godwin’s latest effort to help celebrate women working behind bars. Last year with fellow Perth bartenders Claudia Morgan, Dhivashini Thangathurai and Maria Marter, she established LOLLA (Ladies of Liquor and Larder Australia): a group where women employed in hospitality can meet and discuss workplace issues both online and IRL. The group hosts regular events; last year’s women-only Young Bloods cocktail competition raised more than $1000 for domestic violence awareness group White Ribbon Australia.
Two drinks will be available as part of the $12 International Women’s Day special. The first is the Hanky Panky, a punchy combination of gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet Branca invented in the early 1900s by Ada Coleman (head bartender of the American Bar at London’s iconic Savoy Hotel). The other special is the Old Cuban, a prosecco-enriched riff on the Mojito created by influential New York bartender Audrey Saunders of Soho’s famous Pegu Club. The former should hit the spot for big and boozy while the latter offers a refreshing, citrusy alternative.
While Godwin says the offer – and today – is all about celebrating women, she wants to acknowledge the support she and her peers have received from the wider industry. Perth, she believes, is a good place for women to work behind bars.
“It’s a tight-knit community over here and a lot of our guy counterparts are pretty respectful,” she says. “It’s not so much of a boys’ club. I think among our own bartending community, we know women are great and really badass but they’re kind of in the background. We’re not really ‘Look at me’. Sometimes, it’s nice to be recognised for the hard work you put in.”