“It’s like old school pamphleteering,” Grashin says of her book. “All the dudes I know need a copy of this.” The idea came when she was drinking with a friend at a bar, doodling and thinking of punny cocktail names like the Michelado Obama, which eventually grew to a list of over 100 female heroes and their boozy counterparts. “I wasn’t a [feminist history] expert when I started making this,” Grashin says, but a push for diversity and intersectionality led her to learn more about feminist leaders across cultures and generations, who she hopes will be discussed when budding mixologists make the recipes from her cocktail book. “I’m excited that this book could possibly be used in that way, as a power for good,” Grashin says. “When you start drinking, ideas start flowing.”
When female drinkers leave the home, however, conversations change and perceptions shift, thanks to a centuries-long history forbidding and stigmatizing women who sip booze in public, especially without a male companion. In countless movies, a business man drinking something brown and cold in solace is regarded as powerful, whereas a woman drinking solo is most likely slumped over a Pink Martini in a bar, depressed and pathetic. Or, perhaps worse, the man drinking with friends is an enviable partier, getting cooler and cooler with every pint of beer he downs, while the woman chugging the same number of brews is perceived as reckless, irresponsible or needy. I don’t have to name any characters—you know the scenes. The tropes are old and irrelevant, but when have you seen a woman on screen treating herself to a much-deserved Martini? Even in real life, a man sitting alone at a bar is contemplative and content in his own solitude, while a single woman, or better yet, a woman with a book, is often perceived as an open invitation. “What are you reading?” has to be the worst thing a person can say to a fellow imbiber who came to be alone with endless pages of fiction and a good drink, though imagine a cis-het man saying that to another cis-het man—it doesn’t happen. Bars are a place of socialization but also solitude, if desired, but only for one sex is this ever truly possible.
“As a bartender, there is a lot more responsibility to look after or take care of a woman by herself,” Grashin says. “At the end of the day, it is kind of a newer thing for a woman to be alone at a bar.” In her role as a bartender, Grashin feels like she’s supporting women by giving them an opportunity to go out and enjoy drinks safely and without stigma. But still, even in New York, “all bartenders I know look out for women in the room,” Grashin says. After a few drinks, a woman may still become a target for male predators, but, of course, in a feminist universe that wouldn’t be the case.
“I argue with people about this all the time—becoming inebriated doesn't mean you're supposed to be a victim,” says Alex Allred, athlete and author. Allred competed on the first U.S. female bobsled team in the Olympics in 1994. There, she caught on to some not-so-subtle sexism including the fact that men could openly receive exorbitant sums from liquor sponsors and go out partying, while female athletes were pretty much barred from alcohol endorsements, and getting drunk during the games would be a major faux-pas. Even celebrating a big win with Champagne for women was a no-no, while male competitors were (and continue to be) expected to shake up bottles of bubbly. Allred now teaches self-defense courses, which include instructing women on how to be safe, careful and smart, whether or not they’ve been drinking. “It bothers me that victims and alcohol don't mix,” Allred says. “As soon as someone finds out the victim was drinking or drunk, she's instantly accountable for those actions. This victim blaming crap has got to stop.”