The Women of Los Angeles Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Bars

Future Gin founders Amy Atwood, Mary Bartlett, Freya Estreller, Natasha Case and master distiller Morgan McLachlan
L to R: Future Gin founders Amy Atwood, Mary Bartlett, Freya Estreller, Natasha Case and master distiller Morgan McLachlan | Photo: @futuregin, Instagram

"Los Angeles is not only one of the best places in the country to get a drink, but is also a wellspring of women in the booze business. In Movers & Shakers: Women Making Waves in Spirits, Beer, and Wine, I interviewed women around the country who have built careers in the beverage industries, but came back time and again to Los Angeles, where the talent runs deep." ~ Hope Ewing, Bar Director, The Obscure

Read on and discover LA women who are shaking up the bar, beer, wine and spirits worlds and creating a more inclusive culture - along with fantastic drinks!

Selene Martinez with her namesake cocktail at Big Bar
Selene Martinez at Big Bar | Photo: Eugene Lee
Abigail Smith at Big Bar
Abigail Smith at Big Bar | Photo: Eugene Lee

Bars & Restaurants

Abigail Smith & Selene Martinez - Big Bar
Big Bar (1929 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles 90027) is a neighborhood gem in Los Feliz with an all-star crew that includes Julia Depp, Kathleen Garcia and Shannon Murphy. Assistant Bar Manager, Selene Martinez guides the bar team with her decade of experience at Big Bar; and Lead Bartender Abigail Smith recently celebrated her sixth year at Big Bar. Smith ensures that the drink menu includes no-ABV cocktails like the Isn't It Romantic, made with Ritual Tequila Alternative, grapefruit rose tea oleo saccharum, lime and grapefruit.

Creative Bar Director Brynn Smith at Bar Next Door
Brynn Smith at Bar Next Door | @barnextdoor_

Brynn Smith - Bar Next Door
A veteran of Rossoblu and Sotto, Brynn Smith is the Creative Bar Director at Bar Next Door (9159 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood 90069), which opened on the legendary Sunset Strip in May 2023. One of the few standalone craft cocktail bars in the area, the cozy neighborhood hangout boasts a neon Martini on the streetfront and an eclectic interior by Adam Greco. Smith's whimsical cocktail menu - presented as a vintage newspaper - pays homage to nearby landmarks like the Whisky a Go-Go, an elevated Whiskey & Coke made with Jack Daniel's, Slane Irish Whiskey, Luxardo Amaro Abano, Luxardo Cherry Morlacco Liqueur, lime, balsamic vinegar and Ms. Better’s Bitters Miraculous Foamer. The Tiki-style La Cienega is inspired by its translation to "The Swamp" - Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, Om Chocolate, Nixta Licor De Elote, cold brew, matcha, oat milk, basil and mint. A selection of classics like the Manhattan, Negroni and Old Fashioned can be made no- or low-ABV.

Fun fact: in the late 1940s, the building housed the offices of the Cukor-Lipton Agency - among their clients was Norma Jeane Doughtery, known today around the world as the iconic Marilyn Monroe.

Caroline Styne
Caroline Styne | Photo: Greg Gorman

Caroline Styne - The Lucques Group
Caroline Styne is the James Beard Award-winning restaurateur who - along with chef Suzanne Goin - owns and operates the acclaimed a.o.c. wine bars. As The Lucques Group, the duo offers a trio of culinary destinations at the Downtown LA Proper Hotel: the rooftop Cara Cara, Dalia's cocktail lounge and the signature Caldo Verde restaurant. Styne also curates the selection of New and Old World wines at Ann's Wine Bar at the Hollywood Bowl.

Sommelier Courtney Kaplan with a sake flight at Tsubaki in Echo Park
Sommelier Courtney Kaplan at Tsubaki | Photo: @eaglerockbrew, Twitter

Courtney Kaplan - Ototo & Tsubaki
Echo Park’s Tsubaki (1356 Allison Ave, Los Angeles 90026) is a modern Japanese neighborhood drinking den with a commitment to the izakaya’s purpose: food, drink, and revelry. While the food does not disappoint by any stretch, co-owner and sommelier Courtney Kaplan’s wine and sake list has earned national attention since she and Chef Charles Namba opened up shop in 2017. Focusing on small-producer/craft sake and shochu difficult to find anywhere else, and a selection of interesting French wines, Kaplan’s izakaya experience satisfies both traditionalists and those looking for a new discovery.

In 2019, the duo opened neighboring Ototo ("little brother"), a boisterous sake bar where you won’t even realize you’re learning something new with every sip.

The Ruby Fruit owners Emily Bielagus and Mara Herbkersman
L to R: Emily Bielagus and Mara Herbkersman at The Ruby Fruit | Photo: Resy

Emily Bielagus & Mara Herbkersman - The Ruby Fruit

Opened by Emily Bielagus and Mara Herbkersman in February 2023, The Ruby Fruit (3510 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026) is the first permanent lesbian bar to have opened in LA since 2017. Named for Rita Mae Brown’s coming-of-age novel Rubyfruit Jungle, The Ruby Fruit is touted by its owners as a safe space for not only lesbians, but non-binary, gender-nonconforming and trans people. Come for a glass of natural wine, stay for mingling and noshing on snacks from the womxn-run kitchen.

Gianna Johns at Baby Gee in Long Beach
Gianna Johns at Baby Gee | Photo: Eugene Lee

Gianna Johns - Baby Gee
Gianna Johns has worked in hospitality for more than 15 years, including nearly every front of house position. Like many of her generation, Gianna's interest in bartending was piqued while training under Julian Cox. She went on to bartend at some of LA’s most well-known and esteemed bars - honing her creative skills at Harvard & Stone and becoming Head Bartender at The NoMad Hotel in Downtown LA.

Gianna consulted on bar programs across L.A. County before opening Baby Gee (1227 E. 4th St, Long Beach 90802) with her fiancé, Daniel Flores, in January 2023. Later that year, Baby Gee garnered national recognition from the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards as a nominee for Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar.

Hope Ewing
Hope Ewing | Instagram: @drinkvervet

Hope Ewing - The Obscure
Since 2022, Hope Ewing has been the Bar Director at The Obscure, the invite-only distillery and cocktail bar in the Arts District. Previously the GM and Beverage Director at Rappahannock Oyster Bar at ROW DTLA, Ewing is also the author of Movers & Shakers: Women Making Waves in Spirits, Beer, and Wine. Ewing said, "Los Angeles is not only one of the best places in the country to get a drink, but is also a wellspring of women in the booze business. In Movers & Shakers, I interviewed women around the country who have built careers in the beverage industries, but came back time and again to Los Angeles, where the talent runs deep."

Karla Flores-Mercado at Bar Flores
Karla Flores-Mercado at Bar Flores | Photo: @mercado_de_flores, Instagram

Karla Flores-Mercado
Karla Flores-Mercado went from a regular at Wolf & Crane 's Top Shelf Mondays, to jumping behind the bar when her favorite bartender was in the weeds, to bartending at and eventually managing the Little Tokyo bar. In August 2019, Karla opened Bar Flores (1542 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026) in the former Barragan's space above another Park Hospitality bar, Lowboy. Bar Flores began as Sip, an immersive speakeasy with cocktails and live music that popped up in locations throughout LA.

As soon as you enter the lively indoor-outdoor space, you'll see a large portrait of Karla's grandmother - she explained to Voyage LA, "Paying respect to our grandmothers is something that is important to me. The bar has a wall adorned with pictures of the grandmothers of all our staff and our regulars." Stop by for live music on Tuesdays and order a pitcher of Flores Margaritas: tequila or mezcal, lemon, lime, naranja, triple sec, azúcar and hibiscus salt.

Though Karla recently stepped away from her position as Director of Operations at Bar Flores, she's still a partner and continues to craft drink menus for all three of the Park Hospitality bars.

Katie Kildow and Arelene Roldan at The Mermaid in Little Tokyo
Katie Kildow and Arelene Roldan at The Mermaid | Photo: @themermaidla, Instagram

Katie Kildow & Arelene Roldan - The Mermaid
Opened in 2018, The Mermaid (428 E. 2nd St, Los Angeles 90012) offers the relaxed vibe of a comfortable neighborhood bar with the light kitsch its nautical theme commands. Industry vets Katie Kildow and Arelene Roldan set out to make the space—formerly a hostess bar—a safe and comfortable place for people of all genders to relax and enjoy tropical cocktails.

The generous Happy Hour (5-8pm Monday-Friday, all-day on Sunday) draws a loyal crowd of locals and Little Tokyo visitors alike. Like any great neighborhood joint, there's a calendar of rotating DJs, karaoke, and guest bartender nights featuring women bartenders that raise money for a range of causes. Going a step further, the owners have a stated commitment to carry women-owned or -helmed spirits brands with a list that includes Appleton Estate Rum, Yola Mezcal, and Future Gin.

Marisa Mercado at Fanny's
Marisa Mercado at Fanny's | Photo: Stan Lee
The dining room at Fanny's Restaurant & Cafe
Fanny's Restaurant & Cafe | Photo: Commune Design

Marisa Mercado - Fanny's
The signature restaurant of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Fanny's (6067 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles 90036) stars in dual roles: casual breakfast and lunch spot during the day; and lively full-service dining destination when the curtain rises in the evening. Fanny's is named for Fanny Brice - the legendary movie, vaudeville, theater, and radio star was portrayed by Barbra Streisand in her Oscar-winning role in Funny Girl (1968).

Bar Director Marisa Mercado is an award-winning mixologist who was previously at acclaimed culinary destinations Bestia, Otium and most recently was the head bartender at The Maybourne in Beverly Hills. At Fanny's, Marisa's creative cocktails go beyond just naming drinks after movies. Available through March, this year's Best Picture nominees were reimagined in cocktail form, such as the Barbie - a dangerously good Piña Colada variation made with El Tesoro Blanco, falernum, raspberry, coconut and lemon.

Marlene Olarra at Big Bar
Marlene Olarra | Photo: Eugene Lee

Marlene Olarra - Nativo

As one of LA's top beverage directors, music seems to be a common thread for Marlene Olarra, from her Wednesday night Jazz menus at Faith & Flower in Downtown LA, to the mariachi and DJs at her current bar, Nativo (5137 York Blvd, Los Angeles 90042) in Highland Park. Recently celebrating its one-year anniversary, Nativo serves up agave-based signatures like the Cucurrucucu (Milagro Tequila Reposado, Pamplemousse, Lime, Hopped Grapefruit Bitters, Grapefruit Soda, Kosher Salt), Ojo de Tigre (Mezcal, Martini & Rossi Fiero, Lemon, Honey), and Lena de Pirul (Abasolo Mexican Whisky, Nixta Licor, Mexican "Campari", Mole Biters); along with classics like the Daiquiri, Negroni, Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Gimlet.

Beverage Director Melina Meza at Lucky Mizu
Melina Meza at Lucky Mizu | Instagram: @mel.mixalot

Melina Meza - Level 8
Native Angeleno Melina Meza is the Beverage Director at Level 8 (1254 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90015), the spectacular 30,000 square-foot nightlife destination opened by Houston Hospitality at Moxy/AC in Downtown LA. Centered on the global travels of a character named Mr. Wanderlust, Level 8 includes Lucky Mizu, a shabu-shabu and seiro-mushi dining experience from chef Hisae Stuck; Ray Garcia's Qué Bárbaro (live-fire South American cuisine) and “authentically inauthentic” food truck, The Brown Sheep; and Joshua Gil's French-Teppanyaki concept, Maison Kasai.

Meza's first Level 8 cocktail menu debuted in January 2024 at Lucky Mizu - "light, refreshing and crushable." The Friday-Saturday Tokyo Nights menu includes the Kyuri (Soto Junmai Sake, cucumber, muskmelon, genmaicha, citrus) and the Shoga with Grey Goose Vodka, ginger root, makrut lime, lychee liqueur and yuzu. The Mr. Wanderlust lounge features a salted caramel espresso Martini on draft; and top-shelf Martinis paired with caviar and accoutrements.

Naomi Schimek at Soulmate in West Hollywood
Naomi Schimek at Soulmate | Photo: @soulmateweho, Instagram

Naomi Schimek - Soulmate

One of the OGs of the LA bar scene, Naomi Schimek's career has taken her from the divey R Bar in Koreatown to slinging craft cocktails at The Tar Pit, to The Spare Room as its opening beverage director, and several years traveling the world spreading the gospel of Cognac Park.

Luckily for Angelenos, Schimek landed back in LA to open Soulmate (631 N. Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood 90069) in May 2021. To pair with Chef Rudy Lopez's Spanish-Mediterranean cuisine, Schimek features local herbs and fruits in cocktails that are ideal to sip on the expansive outdoor patio: the signature Soulmate (gin, bay laurel, lemon), Fanny Flutters (bubbles, guava, lemon, butterfly pea flower), and A Little Bit Alexis - the house sangria with red wine, curaçao, citrus and mint.

Dita Von Teese with Danielle Motor and Sabrina Minks of Sunset Boulevardier
Dita Von Teese with Danielle Motor and Sabrina Minks of Sunset Boulevardier | Photo: @sunsetboulevardier, Instagram

Sunset Boulevardier

Cocktail consulting is a bustling industry these days, and no consultancy better embodies the marriage of classic and contemporary L.A. glamor than Sunset Boulevardier. Co-founders Danielle Motor and Sabrina Minks have decades of industry experience between them, and have trained staff and set up cocktail programs at venues including the Chateau Marmont, Petit Trois and Gold Diggers.

AMASS Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan
AMASS Master Distiller Morgan McLachlan | Photo: AMASS


“Nomadic Distillery” AMASS chose Los Angeles as the site and inspiration for the production of its flagship gin, which enjoyed meteoric growth locally and internationally at its launch. Billed as “a celebration of both the abundant natural terroir and diverse cultural landscape of contemporary,” AMASS Dry Gin incorporates native botanicals along with ingredients such as chaga mushrooms that nod to the city’s health-conscious bent. At the root of the gin’s earthy, citrusy, herbaceous goodness is the genius of master distiller Morgan McLachlan, whose creations also include Astral Pacific Gin and Vapid Vodka for The Spirit Guild and Future Gin.

The AMASS product line now includes Botanic Vodka, Impeachment (limited edition), Hard Seltzer, Riverine Non-Alcoholic Spirit, and Clean Botanics for social and self-care rituals. McLachlan's latest limited edition is the Mushroom Reserve 030, with the Dry Gin as its base and additional infusions of Shiitake mushrooms, Cacao and Bergamot.

De Soi co-founders Katy Perry and Morgan McLachlan
De Soi co-founders Morgan McLachlan and Katy Perry | Photo: De Soi

In January 2022, McLachlan and Katy Perry launched De Soi, a line of sparkling ready-to-drink non-alcoholic apéritifs with natural adaptogens. In partnership with AMASS and Creative Artists Agency (CAA), De Soi debuted during Dry January with three expressions: Golden Hour, Champignon Dreams and Purple Lune. The press release describes De Soi as "reminiscent of a light, medium and full-bodied wine, with flavors that layer botanicals like blackcurrant, birch and yuzu with natural adaptogens including reishi mushroom, ashwagandha and maca for a settled yet sharper mind."

Future Gin founders Amy Atwood, Mary Bartlett, Freya Estreller, Natasha Case and master distiller Morgan McLachlan
L to R: Future Gin founders Amy Atwood, Mary Bartlett, Freya Estreller, Natasha Case and master distiller Morgan McLachlan | Photo: @futuregin, Instagram

Future Gin
Future Gin is a brand inspired by and made in LA, created by a veritable supergroup of local food and beverage talent: Amy Atwood, producer of Oeno Wines and owner of Amy Atwood Selections; longtime hospitality professional Mary Bartlett, formerly of the Ace Hotel and Proprietors LLC; and ice cream empire architects Freya Estreller and Natasha Case (Coolhaus Ice Cream, Tea Drops).

Find the fruit of their “collective 50+ years of experience in food and beverage” at retail stores and the city’s finest drinking establishments, such as Everson Royce Bar, Normandie Club, The Mermaid, Majordomo and Botanica to name a few.

Julia Pennington and Allison Lange of Hera the Dog Vodka
(L to R) Julia Pennington and Allison Lange | Photo: Hera the Dog Vodka

Hera the Dog Vodka
After more than two decades operating animal rescues in the nonprofit sector, Allison Lange and Julia Pennington continued their mission with the launch of LA-based Hera the Dog Vodka in December 2018. A portion of proceeds from every bottle sold are donated to create a sustainable funding resource for grassroots animal rescues around the world. Crafted from 100% organic, non-GMO wheat, Hera the Dog is produced at Pennington Distilling Co, Julia's family distillery in Nashville - distilled seven times and slow-filtered through charcoal.

Support Hera's mission by ordering cocktails at local spots like Chatterbox Bar, Jones Hollywood and Lost Property; and picking up a bottle or two at retail stores throughout LA, including Bar Keeper, K&L Wine Merchants, and numerous Mission Wine & Spirits locations.

Pomp & Whimsy founder Dr. Nicola Nice
Dr. Nicola Nice | Photo: Pomp & Whimsy

Pomp & Whimsy
Founded and distilled in Los Angeles, Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur has become a fixture in bars across the country. Dr. Nicola Nice founded the brand in 2017 with a mission to “give women back their rightful place in the history of spirits, and inspire the modern female mixologist.” In 2018, she founded the Women’s Cocktail Collective – an industry group of women spirits producers who join forces through collaboration and cross-promotion of their brands, raising the profiles of women-owned beverage companies and raising money for important causes. Pomp & Whimsy and the WCC host events at numerous area bars, and bottles can be found at retail stores and bars all over Southern California.

Ting Su hosts the Women's Beer Forum at Eagle Rock Brewery
Ting Su hosts the Women's Beer Forum | Photo: Eagle Rock Brewery, Facebook


Eagle Rock Brewery
When Ting Su co-founded Eagle Rock Brewery (3056 Roswell St, Los Angeles 90065) in 2009 with her husband and father-in-law, L.A.’s craft brewing scene had tumbleweeds blowing through it. In fact, they were the “first microbrewery to open its operations in the City of Los Angeles in over 60 years.” Over the past decade, the brewery has amassed an impressive line of community-inspired beers with names such as “Solidarity” and “Populist,” and has continually asserted its role as a community organization. In 2011, Su started the Women’s Beer Forum, a monthly meeting for women to explore and learn about different styles of beer and the brewing industry, to avoid the all-too-familiar experience of “getting pigeon-holed into drinking the worst-tasting, syrupy-sweet, weak cocktails or bland, industrial light lager.”

Lynne Weaver and Alexandra Nowell at Three Weavers Brewing Company
Lynne Weaver and Alexandra Nowell at Three Weavers Brewing Company | Photo: @threeweavers, Instagram

Three Weavers Brewing Company

Since opening their doors in 2014, Three Weavers Brewing Company (1031 W. Manchester Blvd., Unit A-B, Inglewood 90301) has stood out for creating hit after hit on the local beer scene. From perfectly balanced IPAs to an intense Imperial Stout to traditional (quaffable) styles such as an ESB and a light-bodied porter, brewmaster Alexandra Nowell can’t seem to go wrong, and the bustling Inglewood tasting room is a testament to this. The company also happens to be woman-owned, founded by homebrewer Lynne Weaver with “the mission to promote a positive sense of community through our passion for craft beer.” Find Three Weavers on tap, in cans, bottles, and crowlers all over Southern California.

Vinovore founder and co-owner Coly Den Haan
Founder Coly Den Haan at Vinovore | Photo: @vinovorela, Instagram


Coly Den Haan - Vinovore
After opening successful bar/restaurants Perch and The Must, sommelier and third-generation restaurateur Coly Den Haan decided to venture into wine retail. Her Silver Lake shop, Vinovore (616 N Hoover, Los Angeles 90004) was already in the works when the 2016 election led her to a decision: she would only carry wine made by women (and multi-gender partnerships). On your way to finding the perfect lady-made wine, the shop’s classification system helps by sorting wines by flavor according to a zodiac-like chart: fans of big reds look for “red lion” bottles, while those looking for something bright and vegetal steer toward “green snakes.” The shop offers books by women and wine- and book-related gift items galore, so all your birthday/dinner party/night in needs are covered.

Miriam Yoo at Flask & Field
Miriam Yoo at Flask & Field | Instagram: @flaskandfield

Miriam Yoo - Flask & Field
Miriam Yoo opened Flask & Field (767 S Alameda St, #180 Los Angeles 90021), the wine and spirits shop and tasting room of her dreams, across from Go Get Em Tiger in the concrete retail playground that is ROW DTLA. Driven by a “lifelong passion for wine, hospitality and design,” and unsatisfied with the selection of spirits and supplies at other stores, the former entertainment attorney created a space where you can find a great Pet Nat, organic Tequila, a set of timeless cocktail glasses and a great coffee table book. Weekly tastings, classes and events highlight an ever-rotating stock of local beverages—including canned wine, beer, and cocktails available cold to take home.