15 Female Bartenders You Need to Know in Chicago
If someone says "bartender" (or mixologist, if you’re fancy) and the first picture that comes to mind is some guy with overly elaborate facial hair, you need to do some reworking of that gender-biased imagination of yours. Here are 15 lady bartenders with the skills to deliver the impeccably crafted libations you need to survive the rest of Chicago winter. Or make it through a sweltering summer. Let's face it, there is no Chicago season that doesn't call for a drink, so get to know the women making them for you.
Sarah VonderHaarWhere to find her: Old Town Social (address and info)
Specialty: The Ron Burgundy (Scotch, smoked maple syrup, blood orange gastric, and homemade pumpkin spice bitters)
What she's doing when she's not working: This talented Renaissance woman spends her time modeling (including a stint on America's Next Top Model), designing, and making music.
Favorite thing about Chicago: The people. "Chicagoans are always interested in trying new, innovative food and drinks, so the industry is constantly evolving."
Meghan KonecnyWhere to find her: Scofflaw (address and info)
Specialty: Pre-Prohibition classics, Tiki drinks, and anything with Sherry
What she's doing when she's not working: Visiting industry friends and studying up on cocktail technique.
Favorite thing about Chicago: The amazing hospitality community. "I cannot think of another professional community that gives so unconditionally when someone is in need, even if they don't have the privilege of knowing that person."
Julia MomoseWhere to find her: The Aviary (address and info), The Office (address and info)
Specialty: The classics (gin and tonic, Old Fashioned, Negroni)
What she's doing when she's not working: Spending time with people and appreciating the work of other passionate professionals.
Favorite thing about Chicago: The people. "The talented and tenacious people of Chicago have taken the industry to the top tier in the nation. I haven't even been here a full two years yet feel so at home here and excited to see what we can accomplish next."
Liz PearceWhere to find her: The Drifter (address and info)
Specialty: A twist on a traditional Vesper martini made with Leblon Cachaça and Combier Pamplemousse
What she's doing when she's not working: Sleep! (Bartending is a hard gig guys.) Also dining out and checking in with industry friends.
Favorite thing about Chicago: "I love our hospitality community here, everyone helps each other out, and there's a real sense of camaraderie that you don't see everywhere. It's like we're all trying to raise the bar together, for each other."
Rachel SmithWhere to find her: Allium (address and info)
Specialty: "Whiskey Street Magic." Just ask her about it.
What she's doing when she's not working: Spending time with family and friends, which may or may not include weekend sledding or day-drinking at Richard's. (Can the reverse be our new drinking game?)
Favorite thing about Chicago: The vast and diverse cocktail scene.
Annemarie SagoiWhere to find her: The Drifter (address and info), also opening Chicago's very first vermouth bar this year
Specialty: Anything with vermouth, fortified wine, and other low-ABV spirits, plus her favorite -- mezcal
What she's doing when she's not working: Practicing being Amelia Earhart. This past year alone Annemarie has traveled to Mexico to explore Mezcal, Italy/France to visit Vermouth production facilities, and various cities around the country as a guest bartender. This coming spring, she will be headed to France to stay with the monks who make Chartreuse.
Favorite thing about Chicago: Our flavor of Midwestern hospitality. "I can't think of another city where you can find this level of world-class food and beverage coupled with genuine and humble service and camaraderie among peers."
Jess KeeneWhere to find her: The Barrelhouse Flat (address and info), The Drifter (address and info)
Specialty: A riff off the classic Singapore Sling -- bourbon, lime juice, pineapple juice, Suze, Cherry Heering, ginger beer, and angostura bitters. A little dry, a little spicy and "loaded with sass!" (Just like her.)
What she's doing when she's not working: Playing guitar, watching (and writing) movies, reading, drawing, painting, spending too much money on Amazon, talking to her cat and being thankful that her cat doesn't talk back to her.
Favorite thing about Chicago: The pulse and the pull of the city. "Chicagoans on a whole are very confident and love to have a good time. There is a myriad of options in regards to culture. No matter what itch one may be inclined to scratch, Chicago is the place to find it."
Whitney MorrowWhere to find her: Drumbar (address and info)
Specialty: Mai Tai
What she's doing when she's not working: Guest bartending at Locallective, boxing, and pretending like she's good at pool.
Favorite thing about Chicago: The bar and food industry. "I feel as though Chicago has surpassed or at least become competitive with New York."
Allie KimWhere to find her: Momotaro (address and info), J. Parker (address and info)
Specialty: Anything that utilizes Asian ingredients like her current favorite, "Crafty Kitsune" -- a bourbon flip with white creme de cacao, shiro (white) miso, and a smoked salt rim
What she's doing when she's not working: Rocking it out as a wife and mom and an aspiring comedic writer.
Favorite thing about Chicago: The abundance of great drinking and eating establishments in every neighborhood.
Melissa GuadalupeWhere to find her: Hilton Chicago (address and info), The Barrel in Pilsen (address and info)
Specialty: The classic daiquiri
What she's doing when she's not working: Attending or working industry events and growing her knowledge base with cocktail classes.
Favorite thing about Chicago: Those three months, give or take, of Chicago summer. "You can't mess with them."
Erin HayesWhere to find her: The newly opened Lost Lake (address and info)
Specialty: Anything Tiki or a daiquiri made with Sherry
What she's doing when she's not working: Visiting fellow peers in their bars and restaurants, reading up on cocktail history, and traveling.
Favorite thing about Chicago: The bar and restaurant scene. "In my opinion, we truly are the greatest American food city, and our bar and cocktail culture matches right up to our food."
Jacyara de OliveiraWhere to find her: Sportsman's Club (address and info)
Specialty: Stirred, spirit-driven cocktails with three to five ingredients and unexpected flavor combinations, like the "Quarter Deck" (Scotch, amaro, Jamaican rum, orange zest, and Sherry)
What she's doing when she's not working: Along with reading and biking, she is currently researching subject matter relating to juices and medicinal properties of different botanicals as it relates to mixology. (Translation: she's working on inventing a way to simultaneously cleanse while drinking.)
Favorite thing about Chicago: Its diversity. "From K-Town to Bridgeport and beyond, we've got an unending source of inspiration. Pretty groovy."
Monika HartmanowskiWhere to find her: The Duck Inn (address and info)
Specialty: The Bijou (classic mix of gin, vermouth, and chartreuse) or anything with gin
What she's doing when she's not working: Creating terrariums (miniature plants in glass vessels) and imbibing Wild Turkey.
Favorite thing about Chicago: Its food, drinks, music, art, the beach... basically, everything.
Colleen BuschWhere to find her: The Matchbox (address and info)
Specialty: A "mean Old Fashioned"
What she's doing when she's not working: Visiting industry friends around town
Favorite thing about Chicago: August
Mea LeechWhere to find her: Public Hotel -- Pump Room and Library Bar (address and info)
Specialty: "Hell Hath No Fury" -- fresh lime and pineapple juice, Green Chartreuse and jalapeño-cilantro infused rum with an inverted lime half garnish, ignited with Green Chartreuse
What she's doing when she's not working: Perusing Chicago's musical talent. (Before she was rocking the stick, she was a working musician and lead singer living out all your teenage Pat Benatar dreams.)
Favorite thing about Chicago: "Our bar industry family is second to none in my opinion. We all support each other's endeavors and work in each other's bars. We really come together as a community, and it is a huge reason that I moved here."
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Brandy is a food and beverage writer and co-founder of Daily Urbanista. Her work has also appeared in Gapers Block and the Chicago Tribune.