When Alice Farquhar, Global Brand Education and Training Manager for Belvedere Vodka, was in Mumbai to promote the brand’s Relearn Natural philosophy, we took the opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day with her. If you’re a woman aspiring for a place in the exciting world of bartending, take note! Read on even if you’re not...
Not strong enough
Farquhar’s global role for the Polish rye vodka brand keeps her shuffling between cities around the world, where she leads tastings and educational training seminars for bartenders, restaurant and bar managers, chefs, consumers and the media. Of her several first-hand interactions with bartenders and industry leaders across cultures, Farquhar says the biggest, if not the most ridiculous, myth she has encountered concerning women and bartending is that “they are not strong enough”.
“It’s true,” she says with a chuckle when we refuse to believe it. “I have watched a lot of female bartenders at work and people will be like, ‘Oh well, they’re not strong enough to go a whole night’s shift shaking hundreds of cocktails and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah they are. Of course, they can. What are you talking about?’” Not that it needs explaining, but to put the ‘strength’ argument to rest once and for all, Farquhar adds, “Just because we may not have as much visible muscle doesn’t mean we are not ‘strong’. All of us go to the gym and exercise, we understand our bodies.”
National to global
Based in New York and originally from London, Farquhar studied history and American studies, before finding her calling in marketing global spirit brands. After spending nine years in the champagne industry with Moët Hennessy, Farquhar graduated to the larger world of spirits in 2013.
As brand manager for Belvedere Vodka in the United Kingdom, Farquhar was at the helm of all marketing activities in the brand’s second-largest market globally. A mere three years into her national role, when almost all her ideas were routinely translating into global initiatives, Farquhar was elevated to a global profile.
Future of bartending
Farquhar is quick to point out that there couldn’t be a better time for women in bartending in India. “The team in India just completed a bartending competition around Belvedere Vodka’s Relearn Natural philosophy and the winner was, in fact, a woman.” Trisha Koparde of The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai, was the winner out of 120 participating bartenders from Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. “Her win was entirely based on merit and the drink that she created.”
The competition in November 2018 also marked Belvedere’s first bartender collective in India. “Her win is also huge and special to us because I think she is one of the first female bartenders to win a brand competition in India. As a woman, it feels like a great win. It’s an exciting time for women and bartending in India.”
More women FTW
Farquhar may not have the exact numbers but ask her whether she sees a growing interest in bartending among Indian women and she replies with a resounding, “Absolutely, yes.” She continues, “I am seeing more women in the training and bartending events that I am a part of with Belvedere Vodka. Even globally, I have noticed that the number of women in bartending is increasing exponentially. There is also more support now from the bartending industry for women.”
All in all, Farquhar believes that the expectations of which gender a bartender should be are certainly blurring. “I think the assumption that bartending is a male-dominated profession is beginning to fade and the barriers are merging.” With the hope to see even more female bartenders on her next visit to India, Farquhar signs off with an important reminder for women, “Weight training with bottles is good.”