Take a look at these three ladies who are setting the bar on fire with their elegant and original cocktail making and bartending ideas. They provide enough inspiration for generations of women who are striking out to make it on their own.
Jennifer Le Nechet
Jennifer Le Nechet is a bartender from France who won the World Class Bartender of the Year in the finals held in Miami in 2016. She amazed the judges with her superior cocktail making skills, especially with her vibrant range of spectacular cocktails at the Steampunk, a pop themed pub. Le Nechet served customers at the bar in Café Moderne in Paris before she entered the competition that drew nearly 10,000 bartenders from all over the world. Only six finalists were selected to set up a pop up bar in just 24 hours. Each challenge tested the bartender’s skills in terms of technique, a sound knowledge of spirits, personality and performance under pressure. The bartenders had to make cocktails using both existing recipes for classic cocktails as well as their own spontaneity to come up with originals of their own invention. Premium liquor from the Diageo Reserve were at their disposal, such as Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No. Ten, Ciroc, Bulleit, Don Julio and Zacapa rum.
Le Nechet said she had been “blown away”: “it’s such an honour to take home the title of World’s Best Bartender – especially when competing against such talent from around the world,” she said. Winning this competition means she gets to travel the world as Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador for a year, judging bartending contests and creating new cocktails in the far corners of the earth.
The Canadian Kaitlyn Stewart took away the World Class Bartender of the Year for 2017, and that makes it two successive wins by women. She won it after making about 60 drinks, but one signature cocktail made her stand out head and shoulders above the competition, and that was the “Matriarch”, created to honour the memory of her grandmother. "I entered because I said, why not?" she said.
Stewart, with her ebullient personality and upbeat creativity, is also bringing sustainability into the cocktail-making trade. She has done away with the custom of providing straws in drinks and has made a habit of keeping a bucket for compost behind the bar counter. Being a stickler for simplicity, she is opposed to the idea of what she calls the “30-ingredient cocktail”. She dislikes insane concoctions that have no real reason for being. Her own go-to drink is the Tanqueray No. Ten Corpse Reviver, the light and refreshing cocktail for every occasion. Another one of her signature originals is called “Spilt Milk” which echoes her pet phrase “What’s the point of crying over spilt milk?”
Condescension from customers is dealt with in her calm and confident style, and has provided the motivation for putting together Speed Rack, a bartending contest for strong women who are up and coming in the spirits industry.
Ivy Mix, who now lives in New York, started her bartending career in Guatemala as a nineteen year old filled with enthusiasm and an unending love for bars and drinking. She worked at a bar, and would smuggle mezcal over from Oaxaca, disguised as a missionary. She started off knowing a lot about mezcal, but it was only after she started working in Brooklyn that she entered the world of cocktails which was catching on like wild fire around then. “The only thing that doesn’t suffer when the economy is failing is booze. People are like, well I’ve got nothing to do, I’ve lost my job, I’m going to go drink,” Mix says. She is also among the founding members of Speed Rack. Her infectious enthusiasm and her drive have contributed towards her rise to prominence in the world of cocktails.
What these three leading women bartenders have in common is their bold pioneering spirit when it comes to taking the world, which until now has been used to men bartending in a three-piece suit and a pointy moustache, by storm. They have demonstrated a spirit of bold originality in following their passion, to state the obvious. We’re lucky to be alive to see this change of guard, as we drink to a world that, in many ways, is becoming a better place each passing day.