women bartenders dc

Meet DC’s Leading Mix Mavens

Get to know some of DC’s best and brightest mix mavens – the talented ladies behind some of the city’s most popular bars and dining destinations. Read on for their thoughts on everything from women in the DMV’s food and beverage scene, to hard-hitting topics like their choice of last drink on Earth.

Rose Previte
Age: 36
Gig: Owner, Compass Rose
From: Ada, Ohio
Lives on: 14th Street/U Street
On the female presence at Compass Rose: “I’m very proud of the girl power we have on display at Compass Rose. All the women running Compass Rose now just found their way to us. I got to know them and learned they wanted to make this industry their career, too. Now, I’ve got a team of badass women helping to make Compass Rose the special place it is.”
On her experience opening the restaurant: “It’s hard for any small business owner, but I definitely felt like being young and female made it even harder. I am really proud of what I’ve accomplished since then and felt like I gained so much confidence through the opening experience.”
On how that affected her: “It made me want to teach and mentor other women interested in the service industry as a career. I had a lot of people take a chance on me when I told them I wanted to open a restaurant. And now that I’m in a position to help others, that’s what I want to do. Anyone who wants the chance to learn and grow can get one with me.”
Interests beyond the world of food and drink: “Travel, trees, trains.”
Favorite drink on her menu: “The Compass Rose.”

Compass Rose: 1346 T St. NW, DC; www.compassrosedc.com

Janelle Whisenant
Age: 30
Gig: Bar Manager, Compass Rose
From: Easton, Pa.
Lives: “Uncomfortably close to Compass Rose. A very short commute – and they have keys to my apartment.”
On her dream job: “If I can make drinks and make art, I’d probably be the happiest person in the world, which is exactly what I’m doing!”
Janelle on Rose: “She’s definitely a bar owner that is present, [and] very positive. She’s just in it. She loves everyone and everything, and her spirit is so, so obvious.”
On the female presence at Compass Rose: “All of a sudden, there’s kind of this female power that’s growing in Compass Rose. Again, that wasn’t really intentional, it just kind of happened that way. We all kind of found each other, and found ways to build each other up, and help each other, and find our strengths.”
On having her art displayed at Compass Rose: “There’s some hanging in the restaurant. The paintings that I make have a little bit of this street art influence, and one of the concepts of Compass Rose is street food from around the world, so it fits that theme. It’s a good way for people to get to know me a little bit behind the bar and to connect with your guest, which is awesome.”
If you like her paintings, find more at www.janellewhisenant.com, or strike up a conversation with her on your next visit.
Compass Rose: 1346 T St. NW, DC; www.compassrosedc.com

Amy Hosseinnian  
Age: 23
Gig: GM, Buffalo & Bergen
From: Rockville, Md.
Lives in: Rockville, Md.
On powerful female influences: “I was trained by two of the baddest in the city, [including Gina Chersevani], who also happen to be women, so I’ve been surrounded by amazing women both as mixologists and chefs in my career.”
On differing treatment from customers: “Not with cocktails, but I do notice customers are different when asking about beer. There seems to be this perception that young women in particular aren’t beer savvy.”
Her go-to drink: She asks bartenders for recommendations and enjoys trying new things, but: “A julep done right is my jam.”
Her last drink on Earth: “Depends on the cause of death. If we’re talking zombie apocalypse, Corpse Reviver #2, if only for the pun. If I’m dying of natural causes, please pour me a shot of 23-year Pappy Van Winkle [Family] Reserve, and bury me with the bottle.”
Buffalo & Bergen: Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE, DC;  www.buffalobergendc.com

Lucy Dunning
Age: 25
Gig: Bar Manager, 2 Birds 1 Stone
From: Adams Morgan
Lives in: Adams Morgan
On being indoctrinated into craft cocktails: “I wasn’t really introduced to craft cocktails until I was hired at 2 Birds. I give most of the credit to where I am today to Adam [Bernbach]. I feel very lucky to work with people who are devoted to what they do, and the well-being of their coworkers.”
On women in the DC scene: “One of the things I love about the food and beverage industry in DC is the number of women making a name for themselves as strong, creative people in their workplace. It’s always awesome when you meet just as many talented women thriving in their field as you do men.”
On staying sane behind the bar: “I learned a long time ago that letting things go is the key to keeping your sanity behind a bar. That being said, Adam once told me that when someone orders a vodka Sprite, it’s a sign that the night is going to be messy. Still have yet to disprove that one.”
2 Birds 1 Stone: 1800 14th St. NW, DC; www.2birds1stonedc.com

Chantal Tseng
Age: 37
Gig: Literary Cocktail Bartender, Reading Room at Petworth Citizen
Nickname: Sherry Ninja or Sherry Queen
From: Buffalo, N.Y.
Lives in: Adams Morgan
How she got her start: After working as a barista, she began reading up on cocktails, and then pursued wine training courses. She became bartender then bar manager at Dupont’s Tabard Inn, and stayed for nine years, launching their craft cocktail program. Then she left to open and run the bar program at Mockingbird Hill.
What she’s up to now: “Currently, I am passionate about reading and writing fiction and have set up a Friday and Saturday Literary Cocktail series where I design a menu based on books of a particular author I read during the week.”
About her events: The events take place in the Reading Room in the back of Petworth Citizen. She also hosts a roaming sherry pairing supper club with Redeye Menus (www.redeyemenus.com). Monthly events showcase sherry paired with Asian cuisine from chefs across the city.
On women getting more attention behind the bar: “I think that women, generally speaking, are often less likely to promote themselves, but that is changing with younger, newer bartenders getting in the profession. We also have a growing badass community of women organizing things like Speed Rack ( www.speed-rack.com), and also opening their own bars.”
Trends to watch for: Sherry, her “point of passion and pride.” But also Spanish vermouths, absinthe-forward drinks and: “better garnishes or #garnishgame gaining. Extra garnishes without a purpose have always been borderline annoying. But garnishes with purpose – and that purpose can be whimsy without identifying as Tiki – seem to be catching on.”
Go-to drinks: Fino sherry, or Green Chartreuse in hot cocoa when it’s cold: “Also, I adore getting a piña colada from Adam Bernbach at 2 Birds 1 Stone when he has it on the menu.”
Favorite DC bar: “2 Birds 1 Stone.”
Her last drink on Earth: “Really delicious, vintage, bottle-aged champagne on the drier side, on the top of a mountain overlooking the ocean. Ideally, I won’t be altitude sick or super cold, [and] either by myself or with wonderful friends.”
Petworth Citizen: 829 Upshur St. NW, DC;  www.petworthcitizen.com

Carlie Steiner
Age: 24
Gig: Co-founder, Stir Bartending
From: The 757
Lives in: Park View/Petworth
Liz Ball
Age: 28
Gig: Co-founder, Stir Bartending
From: Tennessee
Lives in: Shaw

How Stir Bartending came about:
Carlie: “After attending the Culinary Institute of America, I jumped immediately into the bartending scene here in DC at Minibar and Barmini by Jose Andres.”
Liz: “I met Carlie in early 2014 at Barmini after returning from traveling abroad. I previously worked in special events and project management in DC, and knew there was a need for craft cocktail catering.”
Carlie: “After months of deliberation to pursue our idea, I finally worked up the guts to leave what I thought was the most amazing job I would ever have, and Stir Bartending Co. was born!”
On the rise of female bartenders, especially in DC:
Carlie: “DC has a better scene than many other major cities, which could relate to being such a progressive place to live. That being said, women are still not always represented overall. Women are still getting put into a box of ‘best female bartender’ instead of ‘best DC bartender.’”
Most memorable nightmare story:
Carlie: “When we first got started, we did a charity event for a close friend and well…”
Liz: “I accidentally combined both punches into one super punch…”
Carlie: “…not super!”
Liz: “She has never let me live this down.”
Their last drinks on Earth:
Carlie: “Four shots of tequila and a dirty martini.”
Liz: “One bottle of George Dickel Rye.”
The DC area bartenders they want making their drinks for them:
Carlie: “Sarah Rosner, Chantal Tseng and Dan Searing.”
Liz: “Carlie!”
When they’re not making drinks, they’re:
Carlie: “Rock climbing, eating pickled things, singing karaoke, longboarding, being super gay, riding my scooter round town, yelling and screaming compliments from my scooter to strangers I pass by, and snowboarding.”
Liz: “Skiing, trollin’ around town, getting my National Park Passport stamped, hip-hop dance class and also being super gay.”
Stir Bartending Co.: www.stirdc.com

Celeste Hendrickson
Age: 27
Gig: Bartender, Hank’s on the Hill
From: Wakeman, Ohio
Lives in: Capitol Hill
How she started bartending: “This is my first bartending position. I have worked in the service industry off and on for 10 years, but always as a server. I began working at Hank’s almost two years ago. First, I was a daytime server and slowly worked my way up.”
Her go-to drink at home: “Scotch on the rocks.”
Favorite drink on her menu: “I previously had a cocktail on the menu called Nobody Leaves This Place Without Signing The Blues. It was made with dates, rye, lemon, sweet vermouth and bitters. I was proud of the way it turned out – balanced and not too sweet.”
Hardest lesson learned behind the bar: “Patience. I jumped into a very intense bar program, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything I don’t know. I have to be very patient with myself as I try to improve and learn every day.”
When she’s not bartending, she’s: “Hiking or enjoying a DC museum.”
Hank’s: 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, DC;   www.hanksoysterbar.com

Sarah  Rosner
Age: 33
Nickname: Rosner or Roz
Gig: Lead Bartender, Radiator
From: South Kona, Hawaii
Lives in: Dupont Circle
How she got started bartending: “My first bar shift was on my 21st birthday – it was the only way I wanted to celebrate. I had been eagerly waiting to be old enough for those shifts.”
On whether she’s been treated differently by employers: “Mostly, no. Though, I had a boss once say in a group bar training that women weren’t strong enough to shake cocktails. I thought to myself, ‘Old man, I am definitely stronger than you.’”
On competing in the DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s Cocktail Queen Competition: “I was worried the women would be catty. It was the complete opposite. All of us ladies were super friendly. We all helped each other and cheered each other on.”
Behind-the-bar tip: “Wear non-slip, comfortable shoes.”
Her last drink on Earth: “I hope I go as an old lady, so a perfectly stirred, 50/50 Dolin Blanc gin martini would be a classy choice.”
Radiator: 1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC; www.radiatordc.com

Jade Aldrighette
Age: 29
Gig: Bartender/GM, The Passenger (reopening soon)
From: Juneau, Alaska
Lives in: Mt. Pleasant
How she started bartending: After stints as a host, server and then bartender in Juneau, she moved to the DC area and began as a server at Busboys and Poets while working a government job. Then, she started at The Passenger, which “changed everything.” She quit the day job and was soon bartending full-time.
On whether customers care if there’s a male or female bartender: “I hope they don’t care. If people care whether their bartender is male or female, that kind of sucks. Even if it’s preferring a female over a male. Why?”
On representation of women in the industry: “Women are well-represented for sure. It would be cool if it didn’t have to be a category though – ‘best female bartender’ and that kind of thing.”
Favorite DC bar: “Looking Glass Lounge.”
Her go-to cocktail at home: For day drinking, Bloody Marias and micheladas. Otherwise: “Manhattan, or something with vermouth usually – stirred, brown spirit.”
Her last drink on Earth: “Brandy Old-Fashioned – my all-time favorite drink. Or a stinger, also brandy. It’s so good.”
When she’s not behind the bar, she’s: “Riding my bike, doing crossword puzzles, watching Trailer Park Boys [and] going to as many Nats games as possible.”
The Passenger: 1539 7th St. NW, DC; www.passangerdc.com

Jake Emen

Jake Emen is a freelance writer focused on food and drink, as well as travel and lifestyle. Currently based outside of Washington, D.C., he has been published in a wide range of print and online outlets, including Whisky Advocate, Eater, Vice Munchies, Liquor.com, Tales of the Cocktail, Washington Post Express, Distiller, Roads & Kingdoms, Time Out, Tasting Table, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, and a range of others. He also runs his own site, ManTalkFood.com, and can be followed on Twitter, @ManTalkFood.