Women bring inspired creativity to the L.A. craft cocktail movement

on 25/02/11 at 3:51 pm

Booze News

Zahra Bates

In L.A.’s mixology scene, where culinary skills and creativity are rewarded, female bartenders are shaking up the status quo.

The soul of the electric-green apple martini has been shaken, not stirred. The same holds true for traditional gender roles in the city’s bars.

The craft cocktail movement of the last four years has been something of a breakthrough. Before the current craze for reimagining classic drinks using house-made ingredients, women were a common sight working in lounges but often in a different capacity, says cocktail consultant Aidan Demarest.

“Women were prevalent up and down Sunset [Boulevard]. Beautiful girls in miniskirts and half-shirts is what you hired,” he says.

But today, the sight of a woman drizzling aromatic basil oil into a gin drink or rinsing a martini glass with absinthe has become increasingly common. As bartending takes on the status of a chef-like career, more women are taking the position of authority behind the bar.

“It’s like with any industry, women are often underrepresented,” Tricia Alley, 36, says from her post behind the intimate bar at Eva restaurant, where she has been experimenting with five-spice bitters she cooked up in her home kitchen.

Alley has been in the hospitality industry for 17 years, but it wasn’t until she started working with another prominent female mixologist, Zahra Bates, five years ago at a bar in Westlake Village that she began to fully grasp the possibilities of a craft cocktail career.

“Zahra came along and told me I wasn’t crazy,” recalls Alley of what she refers to as her “geeky” interest in technique and the classic recipes popularized by the legendary 19th century bartender Jerry Thomas. (He’s considered the great-grandfather of the current movement.) “And I was the only one who didn’t think she was crazy, until she worked with Vincenzo Marianella.”

{Full story via LA Times}

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