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The Leading Ladies in Australian Liquor

Leading Ladies

Let’s raise a glass to some of the best and upcoming Australian bartenders and hospitality workers in the industry. These women are practically overflowing with talent and skills, and we can tell this is only just the beginning for them. Let’s get to know some of the leading ladies behind the bar and hear their opinions and advice on the industry.

Natasha Capol

Natasha Capol

Natasha Capol is currently the Bar Manager at both Ms. G’s and The Fish Shop in Potts Point, Sydney. She is also the soon to be Bar Manager at Mr. Wong’s, which was awarded one of the best high-end Chinese restaurants.

You’re recognised as one of the leading ladies in the industry, how did you get to where you are today?

Wow! A lot of patience, determination and courage, to be frank. It was a lot of, ‘keep your head up no matter how deep the pool get’s’, sort of thing. But never waver until you get to the end. Also, I have a very stubborn sense about my lifestyle – nothing gets in the way, and if it does… I’ll fight you! (jks) 


Shay Chamberlain

Shay is currently holding up the bar at the famous Black Pearl, in Melbourne, and was also one of our nominees in our Top 25 Bartenders last year. In fact, she’s working side by side with Matt Linklater (the General Manager) who was also a nominee the same year (I guess talent attracts talent).

Who are some of the female bartenders you look up to? And why?

There are so many home and away that I have had the honour to work beside or be served by.

Jen Wake – who is now the GM of Fare in London. Working alongside Jen, I used to just watch and take notes of everything. I wanted to be just like her. Intelligent, articulate, difficult to read and a great lover of brown booze.
Jemima McDonald – resident badass at Earl’s Juke Joint, Sydney. She is Newtown and is as cool as they come. She makes it look so easy, smashing out cocktails, chatting all things beer and throwing drunks out onto the street.
My latest bartender crush (having just met her once) is Emily Reynolds at Little Red Door in Paris. Do yourself a favour, get on a plane and go sit in front of her and be mesmerised.


Kate McGraw

Kate McGraw

Kate McGraw has recently stepped away from her full-time venue job and is now a beverage and hospitality consultant. She is also working on opening a non-traditional Izakaya in Bondi called ‘Isabel’, that she’ll be in charge of. And, just to put a little more on her plate she’s currently in Japan doing some research and development for the venue.

There’s a bit of commotion about a recent award all being male. What are your thoughts on this?

I wouldn’t call it commotion, I’d call it justified outrage. Before I start, every person that has been nominated is well deserving. I’ve got a lot of mates who are either nominated for Bartender of the year or their bars have been nominated, and they all knock it out of the park. What is concerning, though, is that there are no women and there are no people of colour nominated in that bartender of the year category. I think it’s pretty outrageous, especially considering Jenna Hemsworth has just taken out back to back national titles – and not little ones either, whilst knocking it out of the park at Swillhouse. What about Grazia di Franco who has one of the most talked about bar openings and cocktail lists of the year? You’ve got women all over the city who are absolutely killing it.


Jemima Mcdonald

Jemima McDonald

Jemima works at Earl’s Juke Joint, in Newtown, and has been there for almost five years (talk about loyalty!), where she’s been the Bar Manager for a couple of years. She has also recently started working in production at Batch Brewing Company.

What is your advice for other women already in or who are thinking about the industry?

Please come on in, we need more women, always! Bartending is super rewarding, and honestly, you just get to work with your best mates every day. As goes with any endeavour you take on, don’t question your legitimacy or your abilities, especially in comparison to others. Women make formidable bartenders and fantastic leaders. Our ability to work together and change the whole dynamic of a workplace for the better is remarkable.

I do have to be honest, however, and address the very real sexist bar culture, and “boys club” mentality. It is sadly alive and well in our industry, and the perpetrators of this are rarely called out or pulled up, let alone fired. In fact, they’re sometimes protected by apathetic management, who care more about keeping their average male staff members around than listening to and protecting the few precious women on their team.

It’s hard to break this culture down and infiltrate it when there’s such a strong reinforcement of bad behaviour by men towards women. Luckily it’s not all bad, and there are venue’s that have great policies in place to deal with harassment etc, swiftly. There is also a very strong network of smart and humble women in this industry. Find them, ask them for advice, ask them for opportunities, make friends. We’re out here.


Atlanta Pahulu

Atlanta Pahulu

At the young age of 20, Atlanta Pahulu was once the Manager at The Unicorn. Now she works as a Bartender at The Baxter Inn and is absolutely loving it.

You’re recognised as one of the leading ladies in the industry, how did you get to where you are today?

I fell into this industry and struck gold. I have been surrounded by some amazing people with a wealth of knowledge and I’m very thankful for it. I work hard, like a lot of people do in the industry.


Paige Aubort

Paige Aubort

Paige Aubort is the founder of Coleman’s Academy. Which is a non-for-profit organisation that focuses on empowering and inspiring women in the hospitality industry. She is the not only the founder but the director, organiser, graphic designer and social media marketer.

There’s a bit of commotion about a recent award all being male. What are your thoughts on this?
For me personally, this isn’t specifically about Time Out as a publication. This conversation needs to be centred around why women in our country continue to be overlooked when they are just as experienced as their male counterparts. And as a follow on from that, what are we doing about it to provide a platform for these women so that they can be seen and heard and given the same opportunities as the men they work beside? Are we educating ourselves on diversity over meritocracy? Are we putting measures in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again? Are we talking about why it’s important that this doesn’t happen again?
I think it should also be noted that Melbourne’s nominations were all male as well, this is a frustration that is felt not only on a city wide level but as a national one as well.

Grazia Di Franco

Grazia Di Franco

Grazia Di Franco is the creative director at Caffè Bartolo. An Italian restaurant/cocktail bar in Surry Hills, Sydney, where she looks after the cocktail program. When she isn’t at the award-winning bar, she’s being the Asia-Pacific Brand Ambassador Mancino Vermouth and Rinomato Aperitivo.

What is your advice for other women already in or who are thinking about the industry?

My advice to women would be the exact same advice I’d give to a man; work hard, read, respect your workplace, and take care of yourself – but learn how to polish glassware and how to use a dishwasher before learning what’s the best Instagram filter for your social media post about your new cocktail.


Mary White

Mary White

Mary White has travelled across the world, from North Carolina to New Zealand and Australia, to continually reinforce her skills. She’s always maintained an extremely high bar for herself, never settling for anything less than amazing. She is currently the General Manager of The Lobo Plantation with almost a decade of experience under her belt.

Who are some of the female bartenders you look up to? And why?

This city is full of amazing female power, both behind the bar and in hospitality-related businesses. I am privileged to call these ladies my peers and my friends:

Priscilla Kinezaki – who recently moved over to Raffles Hotel in Singapore from the Baxter Inn. Priscilla is one of the best bartenders I have met, period. Her skills are amazing, her product knowledge blows my mind and yet she is unbelievably humble. I would love to have the opportunity to work with her in my future.

Grazia Di Franco – working at Caffè Bartolo as well as with Mancino Vermouth. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside her at Lobo, and I can say first hand that this woman has a never-ending pool of creativity. I feel like she’s a culinary-drink genius.

Harriet Leigh – at Archie Rose. Harriet is a believer and a fighter, and I feel too many ladies working in hospitality, an unsung hero to us all. Aside from being a total boss at her job, I find that she also challenges me on a personal level to leave my comfort zone and to fight for myself.  

Chloe Natterer – Chloe is my Bar Manager at Lobo and I learn from her every day. She is an amazing bartender, and it never fails to impress me the way she makes every single person visiting the bar feel like family. She works with passion and it is beautiful to watch.