The Cocktail Lovers Magazine Issue 48

ISSUE 48

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Give it up for The Ada Coleman Project, the new initiative for women+ to help the entire industry

ByThe Cocktail Lovers

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Kristine Bocchino and Kaitlin Wilkes are on a mission: to build a community to foster the growth and success of women in the hospitality and drinks industry. Their new, much-needed initiative is named after and inspired by the first woman to take up the position of Head Bartender at the American Bar at The Savoy Hotel, the incredible Ada Coleman.

Launching April 30th, The Ada Coleman Project is a dedicated digital space to empower women+ working in hospitality. As well as mentorship opportunities, networking round tables and workshops, the project is set to become a go-to for event and competition organisers and those seeking to diversify their panel of guest speakers. That’s down to its brilliant database, a meticulously devised list of talented women+ covering various regions, backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Sound exciting? You bet it is. But enough of us waffling on, here Kristine and Kaitlin talk about the project and why they felt the need to create it.

As featured in the latest Women In Drinks issue of The Cocktail Lovers magazine.

Women across all job categories, industries and regions often encounter barriers to career advancement, such as limited mentorship and networking opportunities, which can result in reduced confidence to demand fair salaries, pursue promotions and assert their voices. Specifically within the hospitality and drinks industry, this is evident in the disproportionately low percentage of women holding positions of power such as bar management and ownership and even entering cocktail competitions. 

Over the past two years, we’ve engaged with bar and beverage experts, brand representatives and leading cocktail bar owners to address inequities in the industry. Our findings reveal a lack of awareness and access to talented women in the drinks sector. Some overlook the importance of hosting diverse events, preferring to invite friends, while others struggle to connect with experienced women due to limited networks or discomfort in reaching out. 

Building blocks for progress

Step one towards an equitable evolution is clearly to raise awareness. And step two: we must compel the decision makers to be progressive leaders and foster diverse representation. Whether it’s the brands holding the purse strings, or the prominent bar owners and bartenders holding the attention of the younger generation, both have the power to be leaders and evoke change. 

Matt Magliocco, executive vice president at Chatham Imports and Michter’s Distillery understands that diversity greatly enhances brand activations: “We strive to host events that are fun, creative and inspiring. That naturally entails featuring bartenders and industry experts with different perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences.”

Kaitlin (left) and Kristine

Another area in the industry where we often see inequity on a global scale is in the educational and recreational activities based around bar shows and cocktail weeks. Women play many key roles and ‘make up 70% of the hospitality industry’s workforce globally, (however) they hold less than 40% of managerial positions, (and) less than 20% of general management roles,’* and are under-represented, sometimes severely, at many regional and global bar shows, cocktail weeks and other industry-wide celebrations.

While efforts towards equality and inclusion have been made in various regions, there persists an urgent imperative for continued progress. Nicola Riske, spirits educator, mentorship advocate and Tales of the Cocktail global education committee member, explains: “Equitable bar and cocktail conferences serve as vital platforms, ensuring diverse voices are not just heard, but celebrated, fostering an inclusive and innovative industry for all to thrive in.” Understanding this need, industry advocacy expert Roberta Mariani and the Roma Bar Show team co-created the Balanced initiative “to raise awareness amongst the bar community about gender equality and inclusivity within the hospitality industry” – and taking it a step further, Roberta assists in the curation of educational content for the bar show. 

Be a part of the solution

While the prospect of addressing worldwide disparities in representation may seem daunting, we believe it’s crucial to not simply highlight inequalities but to also present practical and actionable pathways toward improvement. And so, we are proud to present The Ada Coleman Project, an advocacy initiative featuring a dedicated digital space focused on the support of women in the hospitality and drinks industry.

Launching April 30th this platform aims to foster gender equality and diversity within the industry while offering an array of essential resources, including educational content, health resources and job listings. However, the standout feature of The Ada Coleman Project is its rotating database of accomplished women in the drinks industry. Updated biannually, the database showcases both veterans and rising stars from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise. Presented alphabetically to avoid ranking, it serves as a valuable tool for event organisers, competition hosts, bar owners and writers seeking to diversify their talent pool for collaborations and editorials.

Alongside this, and in addition to curating activations and events for others, The Ada Coleman Project will also host our own groundbreaking networking roundtables and educational workshops around the globe, to build confidence and further foster the education, mentorship and career advancement of women in hospitality. Lauren Mote, a member of the project’s board of advisors, says: “We learn through shared experiences – either together as a group, or listening to others share, and linking that to our own situation. I’m excited to see The Ada Coleman Project support the industry in this way.”

Through its advocacy for gender equality and the establishment of an inclusive digital environment, the project not only pays tribute to celebrated bartender Ada Coleman’s legacy but also nurtures the advancement and triumph of women within the hospitality and drinks sector. It signifies a notable stride towards an industry that is more inclusive and equitable.

Strength in community

Achieving equity in our industry is a formidable challenge, yet numerous organisations are already engaged in remarkable efforts to inspire and empower women. Here are just a few…

Celebrate Her, founded by UK-based consultant Anna Sebastian, is a global platform that aims to elevate and financially support women in the hospitality industry to progress their careers. 

Los Angeles-based Babes Behind the Bar not only hosts initiatives to educate and empower women in the SoCal drinks industry, but each of its events gives back to a local women’s charity. 

OurWhisky Foundation, founded by Becky Paskin, has created a mentorship programme for women in whisky and provided a solution with a downloadable gallery of high-resolution photos showcasing women enjoying whisky in diverse settings, available for editorial use.

Barcelona-based Ellas Empowerment, founded by Ginevra Castagnoli, boasts a team of talented ambassadors who aim to raise awareness while promoting inclusivity, empathy and creativity within the bar industry.

Headed up by founder Alex Jump and CEO Lauren Paylor O’Brien, Focus On Health provides health and wellness programming and training for the food and beverage industry in the US, and works with a collective of female massage therapists, acupuncturists and herbalists who provide pro-bono services during wellness events. 

Produced by author, bar owner and journalist Holly Graham and published by Drink Magazine Asia, Asia’s Women in Bartending is an ever-growing list of women working in Asia’s alcohol industry, designed to help tackle the lack of female representation at bar shows and beyond.This way, there is no excuse,” she says.

Though no single individual or entity can single-handedly overcome gender disparities in the hospitality and beverage sectors, it’s crucial to embrace the insight that ‘‘if you can see it, you can be it”. Collectively, we have the power to affect meaningful change.

*SOURCE: UNWTO: World Tourism Organization – Global Report on Women in Tourism, second edition.

To sign up for more details, visit theadacolemanproject.com

The Cocktail Lovers

The Cocktail Lovers

The Cocktail Lovers are Mr G and Ms S, a man and a woman who share a passion for cocktails. (We also happen to be married, so we’re cocktail lovers in more ways than one…)

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The Cocktail Lovers Magazine Issue 48
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