Women's History Month: Inspiring Women Who Shaped The Cocktail Culture

People have been mixing drinks almost as long as they have been drinking alcohol. Cocktail history on the other hand, is dominated by 19th and early 20th century bar manuals, primarily the writings of Harry Johnson, William Boothby, and Jerry Thomas. Today we’re taking a fresh look at the little-known history of women in spirits and beverages. Grab a drink, and join us in reading. Here are 4 women who shaped the cocktail culture: 

Betsy Flanagan


Advertising pamphlet describing "The Betsy Flanagan Cocktail" featured at The Roosevelt in New York. via forgottenbookmarks.com

First on the list is Betsy Flanagan, an innkeeper in Yorktown, Virginia, who had lost her husband in the American Revolutionary War. During that time she served a drink known as "Betsy's Bracers." Betsy had promised her frequent American and French customers a plate of roast chicken from a neighbouring English poultry farmer. One night she decided to serve her neighbour’s roasted birds to her customers and even decorated everyone’s drinks with tail-feathers. Her clients loved it and started calling her creation “Cock-tails”

”Here's to the magnificent wine, which is as tasty to the mouth as the cock's tails are attractive to the eye," one client said after being amazed by her deception and having eaten a number of bracers.

Advertising pamphlet describing "The Betsy Flanagan Cocktail" featured at The Roosevelt in New York.

Ada “Coley” Coleman

The Savoy was Britain's first luxury hotel, with electricity, hot and cold running water, and The American Bar. If the name didn't give it away, this cutting-edge bar specialised on "American Style" cocktails, a relatively new and fashionable liquor trend that we now refer to as cocktail mixology. Coleman rose quickly through the ranks to become the chief bartender, a post he held for 23 years, serving royalty ranging from the Prince of Wales and Prince Wilhelm of Sweden to Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain. 

Coleman went on to become a star in her own right. She was known for being the life of the party, even throwing parties in her own home for the bar's prominent patrons. Coley was known for taking her time crafting one-of-a-kind potions for her clientele. She was so well-liked that she was featured in five newspapers.

The Hanky Panky Cocktail created by Ada Coleman featuring Fernet Branca is a sweet martini with a hidden kick from Fernet. It is on the list of official cocktails of the International Bartender Association.

Valentine Goesaert 

Valentine Goesaert was a tavern owner who survived Prohibition and the post-Prohibition era by exploiting every loophole in the harsh regulations prohibiting women from working as bartenders.

When a rule was introduced in 1947 prohibiting women from working as bartenders unless they were the bar owner's wife or daughter, Goesaert engaged prominent attorney and women's rights activist Anne Davidow.

The women challenged the sexist law by banding together with 24 other female bartenders and tavern owners. Unfortunately, when Goesaert v. Cleary reached the Supreme Court in 1947, the Justices ruled in favour of the union in a 6-3 decision. However, their landmark lawsuit established a precedent for gender discrimination, and when Davidow finally persuaded Michigan to abolish the legislation, it forever raised the bar for equality behind the bar.

Marjorie, Margaret, and Margarita.


According to legend, this world-famous Tequila cocktail was invented in Tijuana in 1938 in honour of Marjorie King, a dancer. Others claim Margaret Sames, a high society lady, was the one who invented the cocktail in 1948. Conrad Hilton took the dish to his hotel chain when she shared it with him.

Finally, there's Margarita Carmen Cansino, a.k.a. Rita Hayworth, whose beauty is said to have inspired a Tijuana bartender to create the Margarita. We toast our Margaritas to these women, whichever version of the storey is true.

 To conclude, we’d like to salute the ladies who have inspired, created and mixed drinks for which they may never be recognised. Do your part and share this article with your fellow cocktail lover, so we can celebrate women in cocktails everyday!

Mix & Match Sets 

Did you know what we’ve got a mix & match option for our cocktail range? It could save you up to 15%. Check them out: 

Mix and Match 2 cocktails.

Mix and Match 3 cocktails.