What Am I Doing Here?

A few years back, I was at a party talking to this pretentious bartender who was trying to impress me with his cocktail knowledge. I probably couldn’t have even named five cocktails back then, so I was asking a lot of questions. It never occurred to me that a drink could have such a long history, or to make a cocktail properly takes time and skill. Living in a capitalist society, you forget about the production of each item you buy, and the amount of time and labour it took to make that for you.

I decided to do some research and realized there is a growing community of cocktail bartenders all around the world. This is where the anthropologist in me got really excited, so I started researching cocktail bartenders in Toronto. I distinctly remember one of the names popping up was Sarah Parniak, who at the time won a few cocktail competitions. I remember being really excited that there were women at the top of this industry. So I went to a few cocktail bars in Toronto, got to know some pretty cool bartenders in the city, and decided I’d do my final research project on cocktail culture in Toronto.

What I realized? That it’s pretty much impossible to study cocktail culture without talking about the discrimination women face every day in this industry. So I had to change my paper to gender inequalities in cocktail bartending. But the course was for one semester, giving me only one month to do fieldwork and one month to find patterns in my observations and research other literature with the same topics. So I wasn’t really satisfied when I finished, which got me to start this blog.

This blog probably won’t be as anthropological, and I definitely won’t be turning it into an amateur ethnography anytime soon. What I really want to do is show some transparency in this industry. I’m also doing this because I want to hear the voices of all the amazing brave women in this industry and what they have to say about it, because you don’t see it being published very often (unless you follow Jen Agg on Twitter – which I highly recommend).

Hope you enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “What Am I Doing Here?

  1. I know women are making strides as wine sommeliers, too, but I can imagine it’s still a struggle. I wonder if some cities are more accepting of women cocktail bartenders than others. Is Toronto ahead of the game? Or London?

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    1. For sure! That’s a good question, I’m not quite sure. But another thing I noticed is that most cocktail bartenders in Toronto are white, which isn’t the case for other cities.

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