Food & Drink

13 Female Bartenders You Need to Know in Pittsburgh

Published On 09/01/2015 Published On 09/01/2015
Courtesy of Dave Harmon

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.

Mai Jeans

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.”

Courtesy of Dave Harmon

Greta Dunn

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!”

Courtesy of Carrie Clayton

Carrie Clayton

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.”

Courtesy of Cara DelSignore

Cara DelSignore

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.”

Courtesy of Amanda Dudzinski

Amanda Dudzinski

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!”

Courtesy of Erika Clark

Erika Clark

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.”

Courtesy of Joslynne Manges

Joslynne Manges

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."

Courtesy of Cayla Zahoran + Michael Fornataro/WHIRL Magazine 

Nicole Marshall

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!"

Courtesy of Maggie Meskey

Maggie Meskey

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.”

Courtesy of Abbie Rhoads

Abbie Rhoads

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.”

Courtesy of Sarah Ellis

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.”

Courtesy of Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris

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.”

Rossilynne Culgan/Thrillist

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.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Meat and Potatoes 649 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (Central Business District)

This aptly named Downtown restaurant serves luxe versions of its namesake items-- Waygu beef and truffle tator tots, for example-- in a lively, spacious setting. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, stop by for revamped takes on classic comfort fare and a varied selection of cocktails, including a full service Bloody Mary bar with savory garnishes galore.

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2. Sonoma Grille 947 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

This cozy bistro space has an American tapas menu that pairs beautifully with the West Coast wines that are heavily featured both by the glass and by the bottle. There's a great Mixed Grille section to the menu where you can choose a protein like Grilled Salmon or Indonesian Glazed Tofu, a side like Garlic Mashed Potatoes and an arrangement of sauces for dipping. Be sure to stop by on Sunday as well for a jazz brunch.

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3. Stagioni 2104 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Simple Italian dishes combined with delicious local ingredients create the ultimate dinner experience.

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4. Sienna On The Square 22 Market Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

As soon as you enjoy one of Sienna On The Square's pasta dishes, you'll know why they've won a bunch of awards since 2013.

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5. täkō 214 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Think you know tacos? You haven't tried the Asian-Mexican fusion versions coming out of täkō, serving up modern street food with a global bent. The namesake octopus (täkō is octopus in Japanese) is the must-order: coming grilled and folded into a tortilla adorned with harissa aioli, preserved lemon, greens, and pickled onion. The lineup ranges from unexpected to familiar, with a Korean-inspired taco (with Wagyu short rib, peanuts, and fermented cucumber) balanced by more safe Mexican choices like chorizo or carnitas. Whatever you do, try one of the eight margaritas, which can be spiked with lychee & pepper or sweetened with Thai coconut milk.

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6. Bar Marco 2216 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Bar Marco, an elegant European-inflected Strip District destination, doesn't just make waves with it's food (which is nothing to scoff at). The restaurant has disposed of the traditional tipping policy, instead offering employees substantial salaries and stake in the business instead. That means servers are all the more enthusiastic to serve your pigs' head croquettes with dollops of grain mustard aioli, discuss the buckwheat fettuccine with a nutmeg-spiced pork ragu blanket that you just ordered, or take extra care that the kitchen cooks your filet mignon to the right temperature. A subterranean Wine Room offers ticketed meals which require reservations, but you can stop by the main dining room anytime for a meal and a glass of wine from small producers.

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7. The Livermore 124 South Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Since you don't have to tip your server, you'll be able to spend all of your cash on the amazing papagiorgio meatballs.

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8. Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar 2350 Railroad Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Their brandy sangria will absolutely knock your socks off.

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9. Union Pig & Chicken 22- N Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Prepare yourself for out of this world poutine. It'll blow you away.

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10. Spirit 242 51st St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (Central Lawrenceville)

Crispy, thin-crust, square-cut pizza meets Pennsylvania booze -- it's a love story to end all others. That's what happens every night at Spirit, a spot on the upper West corner of Allegheny Arsenal that tricks everyday passerby with its outer abandoned warehouse look. Those in the know, however, regularly flock here for the simple Slice Island pies and glass after glass after glass of craft beer, wine, and cocktails alongside some live indie music in '70s-prom kind of dance hall or out on the back patio.

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11. Tender Bar + Kitchen 4300 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 (Central Lawrenceville)

Although it no longer tenders money, Tender Bar + Kitchen provides reputable craft cocktails, upscale American comfort foods, and a casual yet swanky atmosphere out of this vintage bank-turned-speakeasy location. The Kitchen offers mostly small plates like mac and cheese, potato skins, and buffalo chicken dip, but it also turns out a wicked challah bun burger marinated in Worcestershire and stacked with gourmet fixings like pickled fennel and black truffle aioli. The Bar serves an unending list of creative libations inspired and organized by spirit, but the laborious house specialties are what draw the crowds: The Sheriff of Pitkin County packs a flavor wallop with two types of rum, allspice, minty BrancaMenta, grapefruit, egg white, nutmeg, and aromatic coffee bitters.

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12. The Commoner 458 Strawberry Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (Central Business District)

Located within Downtown's Hotel Monaco, The Commoner gives an attention to American fare and cocktails that is less common than the name suggests. Comfort dishes are given an elegant treatment, as low dishes like mac & cheese get gussied up by higher brow ingredients like braised pork belly, fusilli, buttered breadcrumbs, smoked peas and brie cream. Even the humble cocktail names betray their more refined appeal: The Farmer's Son is garnished with flowers, and made up of a blend of gin, Pimm's, lemon sorbet, pickle brine and an IPA float -- hardly something a typical peasant farmhand would be sipping.



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