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Cheers! It's not illegal for women to tend bar

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen mixing a whiskey sour.

Whiskey Sour

2 oz. bourbon or rye

3/4 oz simple syrup

3/4 oz lemon juice

1 tsp egg white (or more as preferred)

Combine all ingredients in shaker without ice. Shake for several seconds, then add ice and shake again. Strain into any glass you like.

"Who wants the hand that rocks the cradle mixing whisky sours?"

That little gem was one of the arguments to make it illegal for women to tend bar. That's after they'd been slinging drinks throughout World War II. Many of the male bartenders were in the military.

"You've heard of Rosie the Riveter?" Tammy Coxen of Tammy's Tastings asks. 

Yep. Everybody has, right? 

"Have you heard of Bessie the Bartender?" Coxen asks. She goes on to say when the war ended, male bartenders came back home, and they wanted the women out from behind the bar.

The Wall Street Journal carried a story about the history of female bartenders and includes this:

One such law was passed in Michigan in 1945, making it illegal for a woman -- except for the wife or daughter of the saloon keeper -- to mix drinks. Valentine Goesaert and three other women challenged the statute as unconstitutional, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The state won the case. Michigan didn't allow women behind the bar until 1955.

So, lift a glass to women bartenders!

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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