In college, I lived in a co-op – on-campus, owned by the university and so-called because rather than rely on the custodial service that cleaned the other campus buildings, we divvied cleaning tasks among ourselves. It was cheaper to live there than in the dorms or off-campus. There were several on our campus, and I lived in no fewer than three. There were not the hippie havens they sound like, though the one I lived in for two years in a row had a hackey sack circle going out front pretty much 24/7. That house – the only coed house in Oregon State's co-op system – was far more like a coed fraternity.
None of us would have admitted that at the time, of course. All of considered ourselves a little too cool, a little too lefty and a little too mellow to participate in the, pshhhh, Greek system.
So far in this series I've talked about women making and marketing beer, the gender politics projected onto drinks themselves and women visiting bars. But I haven't yet talked about women behind the bar.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to Mindy Kucan, the lead bartender at Hale Pele, a tiki bar in Northeast Portland. Kucan has been tending bar for 10 years, but got interested in "craft bartending" (which focuses on complex, balanced cocktails mixed on quality liquors and unusual ingredients, as well as reviving classic drinks from bygone eras) five years ago, while tending bar at a Hilton in Texas. "I wanted to get better at what I did, so I just found ways to do it," Kucan told me.
In 2008, she attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans both to meet more people in the craft cocktail scene and to watch skilled bartenders at work. Eventually, she started entering mixology competitions. Often, these are sponsored by the makers of spirits or liqueurs, and the competition centers around (quickly) building a drink with that ingredient inclusive – but they grade on personality and aplomb as well as quality of cocktail. Others are charity events asking competitors to quickly build a drink with that ingredient inclusive – such as the Iron Bartender competition I attended earlier this month, in which Kucan competed (and where she is pictured here, dressed as Angostura bitters).
Welcome to the third installment of "Ms. Opinionated," Bitch's new advice column, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't.
Today: Advice for a woman who wants other feminists to stop dressing so sexy so she can respect them.
I only ever flipped through Archie comics while waiting in line to buy groceries, bored by the overwhelming whiteness of Riverdale and confused by Jughead's hat. But it always seemed weird that a series about such a squeaky-clean golly-gee group of teenagers revolved around something as potentially controversial as vague polyamory. The series is over 70 years old, and its technology has changed with the times (Betty blogs and Veronica snaps pictures with her camera phone) but its gender politics are completely outdated. Betty's worship of Archie is portrayed throughout the series as admirable loyalty rather than creepy unrequited dependency, while Archie's inability to retain even a casual commitment to just one girl is framed as… completely normal. So this week's Douchebag Decree goes to you, Archie Andrews, you sly dog. Make up your mind.