Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 by buying or drinking a woman-made spirit, such as these global brands that have women master blenders, distillers and more.
Down in Tullahoma, Tennessee, master distiller Nicole Austin is shaking up the nearly 150-year-old George Dickel whiskey brand. One state north in Kentucky, although legendary Michter’s master distiller Pamela Heilmann retired in 2019, she passed the torch to master of maturation Andrea Wilson. At Woodford Reserve, Elizabeth McCall is the assistant master distiller, at Old Forester Jackie Zykan is master taster and Eboni Major is the master blender at Bulleit.
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. An awning over a discreet door in a West Loop industrial neighbourhood is the only sign that some of the world’s most exciting cocktails await. But step inside The Aviary, and it’s all subtle opulence, not that you can really tell because it’s so moodily lit.
Besides, your eyes are mesmerized by the team of mixologists hard at work behind the barred windows of the cocktail kitchen, as if captured in a sort of gilded cage.
Now that we’re all spending so much more time at home, this is a good opportunity to brush up on our home-bartending skills. That means learning at least a few recipes to serve to the people in your bubble and, eventually, all the many friends you’re making on Zoom.
The most important drink you should know how to make is the one you like best. That’s also the best advice for stocking your liquor cabinet, though for your sake I hope it’s something simple, like a highball, rather than, say, a Ramos Gin Fizz, which requires egg whites, orange blossom water and a seltzer bottle, among other things.
After that, it’s best to start with classics. They are, after all, classics for a reason—they taste good, and they work—but they are also a good place to start experimenting if you want to get creative. Here are five drinks every home bartender should have in their repertoire.
The way the story goes, this mid-20th-century drink was named for the elderly Italian men who swerved all over the road while cycling home after drinking in the local café. This recipe is part of The Alchemist‘s series of cocktails you should know.
• 2 oz Campari • 1.5 to 2 oz dry white wine, preferably Italian • Soda water • Garnish: citrus slice (optional)
How Reece Sims shares her love of the water of life
When Reece Sims graduated from the University of Victoria, in 2009, with a Bachelor of Commerce, she thought she might go on to become a lawyer. Instead, after tenures in marketing for the fashion and architecture industries, a part-time bartending job at a Vancouver pub led to a multifaceted career in which she shares her love of spirits, wine and beer. Under the name the Whiskey Muse, Sims provides accessible education about “the water of life” to curious consumers (especially women) in their 20s and 30s—a demographic typically overlooked by distillers in favour of deep-pocketed older men. Most recently, she launched Stave+Still, a whisky-themed jewelry collection.
For the fourth year in a row, a B.C. craft spirit has won the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition: raise a toast to Vancouver Island’s Ampersand Distilling, makers of Nocino!
The Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year is the Nocino! from Ampersand Distilling Company on Vancouver Island. Founded by the Schacht clan, Ampersand operates from a Duncan-area farm, using stills that were designed and built by father and son Stephen and Jeremy; Jessica Schact is instrumental in product development; and Ramona Froehle-Schact manages the farm and more—a true family affair.