Cocktails. They’re as essential to democracy as red ties and double talk. Deal making doesn’t happen over milkshakes, after all.
This weekend at Washington D.C.’s Columbia Room, cocktails will also be the focus of an empowerment-themed pop-up event to benefit Planned Parenthood.
Women Rule is an exclusive two-night fete whose tasting menu boasts cocktails created by some of the country’s best-known female bartenders, many of them Latina, with snack pairings inspired by influential female chefs from around the world. “The bartenders were coming down because of the Women’s March,” said Angie Fetherston, CEO at Drink Company and member of the Columbia Room team, “so we decided to take advantage of that and really showcase their talents and their personal journeys.”
It was Lynnette Marrero, James Beard Award honoree and co-founder of Speed Rack, who reached out to Fetherston with the idea for a pop-up cocktail event timed to the Presidential inauguration and Women’s March. “It’s no accident all of us are down for the March," said Marrero, referring to Ivy Mix, Jessica Gonzalez, Melanie Asher, and the other female bartenders participating in the event. “We came because we want to make it known that we’re here and we’re all going to the march to represent our rights.”
Among those rights is healthcare which, Marrero notes, is a key issue for restaurant workers. “We want to let everyone know that bartenders and restaurant workers are a powerful part of this new economy and we're not going to be ignored. So this pop up is really all about empowerment and giving a little bit of insight into the world we live in.”
Each of the night’s cocktails tells a story about the woman who created it. Some are about the people who have influenced or championed her, while others reflect the accomplishments — either personal or professional — she’s most proud of.
With just 14 barstools available per two-hour seating, attendees will not only “taste” the stories, they’ll hear them in each bartender’s own words.
“Besides just trying the drinks,” Fetherston said, “guests get these one on one conversations with the bartenders about their lives; what inspires them, how they’ve developed their careers, and what they're looking forward to doing next.”
Marrero, who will be serving one cocktail from the drink program she developed for her latest gig, Brooklyn's Llama Inn, and two cocktails recently published in new books, added: “That's why it's such an exclusive seating. We are all bartenders who can easily serve three drinks to 14 people in two hours. I streamlined my drinks so that I could give guests an interesting presentation and then talk to them about the story behind it.”
As for the decision to donate a portion of proceeds to Planned Parenthood, that came from the bartenders, says Fetherston. “I think that we don't know what's going to happen with the transfer of power… We certainly are going to give this administration a chance, but there is an undercurrent of worry that certain groups of people are not going to be paid attention to as much as they should be. Women is one of those groups.”
Marrero agrees: “We need to remind everyone that women are a part of this country’s foundation and that its future is female. We have a right to decide what and how we're going to be governed, and we're going to be here for the next four years and longer to make sure those rights are permanent.”