Book Review: Drinking Like Ladies


On its surface, Drinking Like Ladies might seem like a product of our present-day zeitgeist. In the era of Trump, Time’s Up, and #MeToo, a book that curates original cocktail recipes from female bartenders and pairs them with biographies of accomplished – and often overlooked – women from history arrives at a time when women’s rights have moved to the forefront of our collective consciousness.

But while the publication is certainly timely, the genesis of the book isn’t new. Authors Kirsten Amann and Misty Kalkofen first conceived of the tome more than 10 years ago. But their attempts to get it published were met with the type of resistance that many of the women profiled in the book would find painfully familiar.

Amann and Kalkofen instead spent a frustrating decade watching their male contemporaries publish bartending books and capitalize on the cocktail renaissance while their own concept languished. It wasn’t until after the 2016 election that they were contacted by an interested publisher.

Their book is worth the wait. Drinking Like Ladies presents an eclectic collection of 75 cocktail recipes from today’s leading female bartenders. The authors’ home base of Boston is well represented, but the book’s contributors span the globe, with recipes from across the U.S. to Australia, eastern Europe, Africa, and China.

Education and Intoxication

Opposite each recipe are biographies of pioneering women from a vast array of fields. Amann and Kalkofen tell the stories of scientists, athletes, activists, explorers, and artists who blazed trails and defied the conventions of their times. (Most of the photos herein were taken at a book launch held at the Hawthorne in Boston.)


Elements of the Stars, by Ezra Star of Drink, honors Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a groundbreaking astronomer who became the first female professor at Harvard and chair of the school’s astronomy department. Combining Plantation rum, cinnamon syrup, lemon, and Amaro Montenegro, it’s a rich rum drink with plenty of spice.


Nicole Lebedevitch of Yvonne’s offers the Right Hand, a mix of bourbon, applejack, Suze, cinnamon syrup, and black walnut bitters. This strong libation is a toast to political advisor Marguerite Alice “Missy” Lehand, who held the position of secretary to President Franklin D. Roosevelt – a role similar to the modern-day chief of staff.


Wai Wai’s Wings, by Jess Knight of Boston Harbor Distillery, is an elegant cocktail made with mezcal, mariposa liqueur, lemon juice, and a plum, pear, and thyme shrub. The drink pays tribute to Wai Wai Nu, a Myanmar-based activist and lawyer who was imprisoned by a military dictatorship. She later co-founded an organization that today provides legal counsel to women in Myanmar.


Dismantling the Patriarchy

The stories of the women profiled in Drinking Like Ladies are fascinating, at times harrowing, and always inspiring. Coupled with the recipes, they make for a cocktail book that’s as readable as it is functional.

Kirsten Amann and Misty Kalkofen are renowned bartenders and respected industry figures, and their book celebrates the accomplishments of extraordinary women from history while raising the profile of today’s female bartenders. That’s an idea whose time has come – from a book whose publication is long overdue.

“Drinking Like Ladies: 75 Modern Cocktails from the World’s Leading Female Bartenders,” is available wherever books are sold. I received a complimentary copy of the book with the understanding that I would write a review of it.

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