Not so long ago in our nation’s history, females in the US were banned from bartending (stupid 1940s). Luckily that’s not the case today because these 13 Pittsburgh bartenders are among the city’s best -- and they just happen to be women. They’re serving up craft cocktails, sharing what they love about Pittsburgh, and shattering glass ceilings, but not glasses.
Where to find her: Meat and Potatoes (address and info) Specialty: “I like to work with aged tequila and eight-to-10-year bourbons.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I like to eat and drink at other places and visit other bartenders in the city. I like to stay active and cook at home, but most importantly just all around keeping it real." Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “How friendly people are. I have received a lot of kindness from perfect strangers.”
Where to find her: Meat and Potatoes (address and info) Specialty: “Bright and simple rum drinks and puns! I recently made a "Daq and Gold" for a customer: dark rum, lime, pineapple, simple, orange bitters.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “Cooking, concerts, sleeping, visiting other fantastic bartenders, and thinking about new drinks (and entering friendly competitions)... when I'm not studying for my occupational therapy boards!" Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “The camaraderie. If you're in black and gold you can always make a friend -- anywhere in the world!”
Where to find her: Sonoma Grille (address and info) Specialty: “I'll give you a way to fall in love with ALL of the bottles. Especially the mezcal and anything with fizz.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “Growing a most amazing little girl into a kick-ass lady. Taking off in a kayak or on foot to disappear into some greenery for a while. Getting nerdy at home over lots of industry stuff.” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “The broad range of faces, backgrounds, and styles of the humans here. It's really awesome to be able to meet so many people from such incredibly varied backgrounds and lifestyles and then be able to create a great experience for them on my bar.”
Where to find her: Stagioni (address and info) Specialty: “Prosecco cocktail. Made with Mirto and lemon. Mirto is an Italian cordial from Sardinia. I also love making gin-based cocktails.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I try to learn about wines that I am not familiar with. I love to go out to the driving range to hit golf balls; it's a great way to blow off steam!” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “One thing I love about Pittsburgh is that I can be out for a hike in the woods by day and back in the city for a nice bite to eat by night. Another thing I love about our city is the sense of community among restaurant professionals.”
Where to find her: Sienna On The Square (address and info) Specialty: “More than anything, I enjoy making cocktails for people based on their mood or where they want to be. I'll ask them to give me adjectives or a feeling, and then I try to recreate that for them through a cocktail. It's fun.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “When I'm not working, you'll find me making piñatas for a 10-year-old, stalking professional female soccer players, binge eating, drinking whiskey, entertaining friends, watching Gilmore Girls... the possibilities are endless.” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “Going anywhere and knowing I'll have a friend… especially friends that can cook and mix up delicious drinks!”
Where to find her: Täkō (address and info) Specialty: “Savory and spicy elements. I love working with peppers, savory herbs, and beer. I love the je ne sais quoi element that just a splash of the right beer brings to a cocktail.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “Try to spoil myself and my husband with good food, libations, and no time schedule.” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “The pride that we all carry for our city -- a city built by and rooted in hard work, strength, and determination. The pulse of Pittsburgh is the love and appreciation we have for it.”
Where to find her: Bar Marco (address and info) and The Livermore (address and info) Specialty: "Anything that lets me get creative with amaro." What she’s doing when she’s not working: "I keep active with CrossFit and running. Travel whenever I can." Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: "The desire people have to grow and enhance this city together. The unity with that is remarkable."
Where to find her: Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar (address and info) Specialty: "We offer a vast collection of more than 150 whiskeys that allow me to create virtually any cocktail to please any palate. I find that our cigar smokers enjoy a classic Old Fashioned or Manhattan cocktail as they pair well together. We also offer an extensive wine collection featuring more than 250 labels, which has allowed us to receive the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine four times!" What she’s doing when she’s not working: "Spend as much time as possible with my husband, family, and friends." Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: "The people of Pittsburgh and being a die-hard Steelers fan!"
Where to find her: Täkō (address and info) Specialty: “A margarita -- the most perfect cocktail!” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I'm learning how to thrash on the drums! And I listen to a lot of rock and roll and love to go record shopping. I spend a lot of my free time on boats. I treat myself and my friends to secret grill nights on "Porch" (our front porch!) and hit the pool whenever possible. I'm working on acquiring my advanced Master Court of Sommeliers certification but that's a big haul.“ Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “We have a giant heart and a small city center for it to beat within. We are the heart of USA and sports and rock and roll and whiskey and so much more. We are happy here. We love each other! It's a super-supportive city.”
Where to find her: Union Pig & Chicken (address and info) Specialty: “Whiskey drinks! I make a great Old Fashioned.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “Probably eating! It's my No. 1 hobby.” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “The people. I moved here eight years ago and have met most of my closest friends here.”
Sarah (Smellis) Ellis
Where to find her: Spirit Lodge (address and info) Specialty: “Old Fashioneds. Love to drink them; love to make them.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “I love to travel and discover the guts of a place. I tend to do a lot of fly fishing and camping. It brings me balance. I also play music in my band Boiled Denim.” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “I have always loved the energy of Pittsburgh. It has a strong community feel. Everyone seems to be connected in some way. You can meet somebody and within 10 minutes of your conversation, you realize they are your cousin or something.”
Where to find her: Tender Bar + Kitchen (address and info) Specialty: “Anything tequila or mezcal is easiest for me, but really I like surprising people with something unexpected they've never had before.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “Hang out (drink) with friends (usually at our favorite local dives), enjoy my neighborhood of Bloomfield, take my dog exploring around the city with my boyfriend, read anything thought-provoking or booze-related, cook, paint, draw, sew, find new music, watch The Simpsons… OK, who am I kidding, I love all those things, but I mostly just clean and sleep.” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “The overall feeling of homeyness and community. It feels like most people I meet would rather help each other out than compete, whether it’s the bar/beer/food community, the music scene, small businesses, etc. There’s plenty of room here for everyone to flourish. Oh, and Armand’s Bar, the Allegheny Cemetery, and pierogies.”
Laura Grace (LG) Swanson
Where to find her: The Commoner (address and info) Specialty: “Rye Old Fashioned or dirty martini.” What she’s doing when she’s not working: “Practicing yoga, playing with my dogs, Bessie and Leroy, and traveling with my lovely husband, Jeremy. We hope to visit Southeast Asia next!” Favorite thing about Pittsburgh: “The people and our unique neighborhoods.”
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Rossilynne S. Culgan (@rossilynne) is a Pittsburgh native who believes in Girl Power.