The Rise of New York’s Lady Barkeeps

Illustration for article titled The Rise of New York’s Lady Barkeeps

Tending bar pretty much anywhere is an endurance exercise in patience, but, according to the New York Times's resident barkeep Rosie Schaap, women in New York sometimes still have to deal with the assholiest assholes in all the world — men, who, apparently incredulous that the person pouring their pretentious glass of Scotch isn't the ghost bartender from The Shining, seek to "undermine" a female bartender's control.


However, times, being fickle and generally impossible to rely on, have changed from New York's 17th century dirt-road days when bar proprietresses with ironic names like Annetje Cock kept watched over a husband's bar, or even a little later on when Galls Mag, the "bouncer and general factotum" of an infamous Water Street dive-bar, prowled the establishment with a pistol stuck in her belt. Female bartenders are just as common in New York nowadays, and they no longer need firearms to assert their authority. Schaap explains that, though she and some of her peers still field condescending questions from (mostly) male patrons that "would never be addressed to a male bartender," a woman's authoritative presence behind the bar puts female patrons more at ease:

Even in 2012, I know women who'd love to go out on their own for a drink or two but hesitate before entering a bar solo. Some have told me that they feel more relaxed when a woman's behind the bar. A good male bartender has this effect, too, of course, but I think the extra sense of comfort that a woman has when being served drinks by a woman comes from a feeling of recognition. They know that we're in this together.

This solidarity in cocktail-sipping will continue, too, right up until the nuclear apocalypse, when we'll revert to the days of pistol-toting Gallus Mag and all drinks will be variations on jet fuel with bitters.

Women Behind Bars [NY Times]

Image via imageegami/Shutterstock.



I'm interested in whether there's any kind of correlation between bartender gender and best-served customers. There's a common wisdom that male bartenders will serve women first because they want to make sure that there are lots of happy female customers to attract male customers, and that female bartenders serve men first because men will tip them better. If we've been waiting to order a drink from a female bartender for a while, my female friends and I will frequently say something along the lines of, "We need a dude behind the bar," and get out of there. Borderline offensive assumption or fact of life?

*This question is obviously heterocentric, although I'm interested if there are similar assumptions made about bartenders in gay bars, adjusted for gender and assumed sexual orientation.