“And we see you over there on the internet, comparing all the girls who are killing it, but we figured you out, we all know now we all got crowns, you need to calm down.” – Taylor Swift, You Need To Calm Down (from the album Lover)
I had an entirely different direction for today’s article.
It had something to do with how much sentiment I have for the Cointreau brand, calling to mind the many Crêpe Suzettes our restaurant (Tivoli at the now defunct Mandarin Oriental Manila) made – table-side, because we were badass.
It had something to do with how I was both humbled and honoured to have been selected as a part of the panel of judges in the La Maison Cointreau Philippines 2019 Bartending Finals in Run Rabbit Run.
Then, at about 7am on 8 October 2019, I woke up, scrolled through my phone (an unhealthy habit, I know) and stumbled upon a barrage of links, quotes, and angry comments about Charles Schumann being awarded as an Industry Icon in The World’s 50 Best Bars.
This man has been quoted as saying:
“Women should only work the lunch shift making way for the real (male) bartenders.”
“A bar is no place for a woman. The important characters are always men.”
“I say they (women) can come, but they are not wanted. The old journalists who came to my bar would say, ‘Children, don’t talk to us when we’re whisky drinking.’”
“Wear a suit so guests know you’re the manager.”
“Wear the uniform that was made for men.”
“Gee, sorry, I doubt you will experience business ownership one day.”
That certainly woke me up… In a mood, I might add.
“There is a whole universe of difference between being an icon and a relic. An icon calls for and supports the continuous growth of their industry, a relic demands it stays stagnant to retain its faded glory.” – Anonymous
The timing of it all was incredibly bizarre… After all (and in relation to what the article was initially supposed to be about), the premise of today’s entry was supposed to be a celebration of the La Maison Cointreau competition’s winner, Abegail Quilan-lan of Proof Manila. She (yes, SHE) bested out the rest of the competition – all of whom were men – with a cocktail that had very cohesive notes of rosemary, and surpassing the presentation standards by discussing the technical aspects of how to brew the tea mixed in it.
Not bad for a person whose gender is supposedly not wanted in a bar.
“It qualifies as misandry if, by reacting to Schumann’s posts, we are generalising that all men are as terrible as him. Try ‘misogyny’.” – Anonymous
Quilan-lan is not the only amazingly talented woman behind the bar. I’ve made it no secret that locally, I find my good friend Kath Eckstein’s work (by the way, she does own her own business) impeccable. World Class Bartender of the Year 2019 is female Bannie Kang of Singapore. Ada Coleman was the Head Bartender of Savoy from 1903-1926. Tess Posthumus – who also wrote a very candid reaction to Schumann’s recent award – is a published author, multi-awarded bartender, and owner of Flying Dutchman Cocktails in Amsterdam.
“A man who says women are ‘not wanted’ clearly isn’t concerned for women’s safety (for only working the lunch shift).” – Anonymous
I can go on about all the women that have made an art out of the mixology profession, but I’m acutely aware that no matter how many awards we win, bars we own, lectures we conduct, or literature we write, there will always be people like Schumann in existence.
Is there any hope for female bartenders then? Am I alone in thinking that anyone (no matter what his/her/their gender or sexual orientation is) can make a good living out of anything they set their minds to, as long as it’s legal and they actually do the work?
“People who dismiss Schumann’s statements as mere ‘exaggeration’ is missing the point: They’re actual quotes straight from the man.” – Anonymous
If there’s anything at all that gives me any sort of hope, it’s the amount of reaction this issue has been getting. People have rallied behind female bar professionals (just look at how wonderful the reactions are to Posthumus’ Facebook post) and have not stopped with the outpouring of support.
I think one of my favourite quotes in the aftermath (and a fitting ending to today’s entry) is this one from a friend:
“A bar owner who doesn’t recognise that a woman behind a bar is actually just as much of an asset as a man is honestly not very smart. Women attract not only men to the bar, but other women as well because they know our preferences and tastes – and of course, where the ladies drink, the men follow.” – Anonymous, restaurant owner and beverage professional