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The Whiskey Women Of Charlotte

When you think about the stereotypical drinks ordered by women in pop culture…certain cocktails come to mind. Fruity daiquiris, maybe a piña colada and of course the pink drink that was popular on the HBO series Sex and the City the Cosmopolitan.

Whiskey isn’t usually included on that list. But a group of women in Charlotte is out to prove it’s not a man’s world when it comes to the liquor.  

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Once a month, a group of women gather not just to talk and swap drink recipes (although there’s plenty of that) but to get to know a liquor that at times feels off limits to female drinkers.

"We really wanted to do something where women could learn about whiskey and about a spirit that’s been around a long time. And make that a part of their identity too and that it just doesn’t have to be about men," says Amanda Fisher. She’s one of the founding members of the Whiskey Women of Charlotte.

Fisher along with Kimberly Pace and Savannah Greer founded the group. They got the idea from a blog based organization called The Whiskey Women.

The Whiskey Women of Charlotte meet at different bars and restaurants around Charlotte to discuss the history of a particular whiskey cocktail, on average 20 women attend.

The location this time is the Customshopin Elizabeth. And the drink is a favorite of Mad Men’s Don Draper: the Old Fashioned (watch Don make one here). 

Fisher says she’s analyzed every way Don Draper has concocted her favorite whiskey drink.

"He does add in the cherry and the orange and a little spritz of the carbonated water. That’s not the way I drink it, but it’s definitely the way a lot of people love it and that’s totally ok too. That version became popular during and after prohibition and we still see it today," Fisher says.

That’s one reason why this group exists—to learn the story behind a particular cocktail in the hopes of making whiskey less intimidating to order.

Fisher, Greer, and Pace, vet each bar before deciding to bring their group to that location—there has to be a knowledgeable staff.

And Customshop’s Chip Townsend is up for the task of explaining the evolution of the Old Fashioned.

He starts by making one of the original versions of the drink from the early 1800’s…which includes rye, bitters, a splash of water, sugar, with a lemon twist. He says because there are so many different variations of the drink, he always asks what version the customer would like. 

After the drink is made, he passes it off to a lucky lady and then it’s on to make one from the 1860’s, another from the post probation era, to what the modern Old Fashioned looks like.

For one attendee Aimee Corriher, this educational component is appealing. But her main reason for coming to these monthly “Drink Ups” is more personal.

"One of my friends is like ‘you drink whiskey, that’s a man thing to do. I wish I could do that.’ And I’m like why can’t you do that? It’s enjoyable. It’s just in today’s world it’s crazy to think there is a stigma like that," she says.

The ladies are having such a great time they attract the attention of a male patron who’s intrigued by all the conversation…and drinks.

They’re more than happy to share some information on the history of the drink but quickly return back to the conversations they were having with their fellow whiskey drinkers. This is the Whiskey Women of Charlotte after all.

The next Drink Up is scheduled for Thursday July 23 at Ri Ra's in Uptown. This time they’ll focus on punch drinks and the role whiskey played in their evolution. Plus, there will be good conversation and the female comradery that comes with enjoying a particular liquor that’s been stereotypically part of a boys club for far too long.

Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.