To celebrate women’s month, we asked our female bar managers, bar owners and bartenders about their experiences in the hospitality industry. We also asked them to share a cocktail using a female-led ingredient from the Craft Spirits portfolio. Here, Kim Hassarud from the Garden Bar PHX in Phoenix, Arizona shares her thoughts with us.
It’s an exciting time… it was exciting 20 years ago and it feels like women are continuing to get more empowered, get better jobs and most importantly, have more female leaders. Teaching and mentoring are the most important ways to raise other women’s voices and empower them.
In the earlier days as a bartender in the 90’s …you weren’t taken as seriously, both from upper management and guests. People were surprised that I would know something about whiskey or gin, and yet, expectations were higher – we were expected to do more with less. But ironically, I didn’t really witness extreme bad behavior until this notion of the celebrity chef really took off around the 2010’s -- the reality shows that were around chefs and restaurants. It drew so much more attention and glamorized the industry to a degree that drew in a lot more customers and people wanting to work there. As a result, many of those restauranteurs were making money hand over fist, staff was making bank, egos ballooned, and bad behavior went unchecked. This was also when “grind culture” really became the norm, which has led to where we are now – the pandemic and The Great Resignation. But, I’m confident we will re-build in better, stronger ways.
As the National President of the USBG, there are a lot of steps we are taking to teach and empower our local leaders to be more inclusive and equitable in their own communities which includes more diversity in lots of different ways – regional, age, bartender type, experience level, race, gender, ability, etc.
Locally, I just opened Garden Bar PHX which is one part craft cocktail bar and one-part non-profit cocktail club, “The Cocktail Collaborative.” Since we’ve been open, we’ve hosted several educational classes and seminars for both consumer and trade such as “The Science behind Taste & Flavor” and “Honey, Cheese & Scotch Pairing”. We have a lot more events in the works and my hope is to create a stronger community of cocktail and spirit enthusiasts, and at the same time, work towards creating a stronger community of women in the industry.
I’ve been a cocktail competition judge for many, many regional, national and global competitions and still see a lack of female competitors. I see that they try to get in the door once, and don’t try again. Or feel intimidated as their male counterparts have no problem walking through that door. We need to build a community of mentorship where they feel comfortable asking for feedback, help, practicing and empowering each other. The Collaborative can be that place. I’d love to work with women in mentoring them through the process which, in turn, will create more career opportunities for them down the road.
1 oz Château de Millet Bas Armagnac VS
1 oz small batch bourbon
0.25 oz rich simple syrup
3 dashes barrel aged Peychaud's bitters
Add a small sprig of rosemary to a fancy frozen rocks glass. Spray dropper of absinthe in the glass. Stir around and let sit. In a mixing beaker, add the Millet Armagnac, small batch bourbon, simple syrup and Peychaud bitters. Top with ice and stir swiftly. Discard absinthe and rosemary sprig in rocks glass. Strain contents into rinsed, frozen glass. Squeeze orange peel over the drink and discard. Add another orange peel with tweezers and additional rosemary sprig.
*We take an extra step in hand-carving our own ice for this drink and freezing it right into the rocks glass. (It creates a vacuum and keeps that Sazerac ice cold for a longer period).
I’ve created hundreds of cocktails for bars and accounts around the country. One of my big mantras is that they need to be approachable, beautiful and delicious. My litmus test is “would you order another one?”
For many cocktail enthusiasts, a Sazerac is a must-have. It’s in the same vein as an Old Fashioned, but includes an absinthe rinse and Peychaud bitters, which gives it a lovely aromatic which is a central component to this classic cocktail.
Normally, this cocktail uses a rye whiskey, but I’m using a split base of a small batch bourbon and Millet Armagnac. Armagnac speaks to me on so many levels – it’s the farmer’s spirit. It’s adjacent to the cognac region in France, but without the formality and same kind of restrictions that cognac has. It’s approachable, delicious and the spirit of the community. In some cases, the community shares the still on wheels and it goes from community to community where the farmers make Armagnac. It’s lighter-bodied, top notes of caramel, anise, apple and coffee and just delicious in this cocktail.
About Kim Haasarud
Kim Haasarud is a media cocktail personality, cocktail book author and owner of Liquid Architecture, a beverage consultancy that works with bars, restaurants and hotels. She currently serves as the National President of the United States Bartenders Guild.
About Garden Bar PHX
Kim Haasarud opened Garden Bar PHX, a garden-to-glass craft cocktail bar in the South Roosevelt district of downtown Phoenix and The Cocktail Collaborative, a non-profit incubator and educational space for beverage professionals and enthusiasts alike. The space is an adapted 1914 California bungalow and really meant to feel like a home away from home with cozy, comfortable eclectic furniture, farmhouse tables and mix-match glassware and plates.