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Shaken or Stirred?
With her ninth book, “Drink Like a Woman,” out now, M’s longtime food and drink writer, Jeanette Hurt, talks cocktails, the history of women in bartending and the value of homemade simple syrup


November 2016

Where did the idea for “Drink Like a Woman” stem from?

I’ve been covering cocktails for a while, and usually when I get into something, the best way to learn about it is to write a book about it. I learned about sausage making by writing a book on making sausage; I learned about dehydrating foods by writing a book on that. I really wanted to learn how to make really good cocktails.

Describe the book’s basic premise.

It’s a cocktail book for women. “Shaken” or “stirred” — if you’re an at-home bartender, do you know what that means? I made sure things were broken out for the average bartending enthusiast. There’s also a section on the history of women in bartending and women in cocktails.

Throughout your research, what historical fact or tidbit surprised you most?

The most interesting thing I found is that 26 states had actually established laws against women in bartending. You couldn’t bartend unless you were married to the owner or were the daughter of the owner. The last state to change (and strike down the law) was California, in 1971. Today 60 percent of all U.S. bartenders are women.

“Drink Like a Woman” includes more than 70 cocktail recipes. Did you develop the recipes yourself?

I either came up with them (myself) or worked with one of 20 bartenders from across the country. I also studied under a woman who has been teaching bartending in the Chicago area for more than 20 years. I tested (the recipes) in my kitchen and dining room. I couldn’t finish every drink I made, of course, but I have some great neighbors.

Are there any bartenders Milwaukeeans will recognize?

Katie Rose from Goodkind and Katie Stewart from The Iron Horse Hotel. Milwaukee is pretty supportive — it has a supportive chef community, and it has a supportive bartending community.

Tell us about how the cocktails were named.

Every cocktail is named for a female or something feminist-related — like Rosé the Riveter (for Rosie the Riveter), the Tubmantini (for Harriet Tubman) and the Curie Royale (for Marie Curie).

Any final words of wisdom for the aspiring at-home bartender?

A few things:

— Make your own simple syrup. It really is easy — just water and sugar. You can use brown sugar, honey or maple syrup. The basic recipe is one part to one part, but a lot of bartenders prefer 60 to 75 percent sugar to water.

— Use fresh juice, and squeeze it fresh. Just a simple press makes a big difference.

— Buy a shaker that fits your hand.

— Use good liquor, and measure the ounces with a jigger. You can throw a cocktail out of balance if you add too much (liquor).

“Drink Like a Woman” is available locally at Boswell Book Company and Books & Company in Oconomowoc. For more information, visit


This story ran in the November 2016 issue of: