On the first Wednesday of every month, nautical-themed small bar Hains & Co is filled with female bankers, lawyers and bartenders, all keen to learn about alcohol from local and national experts without male interference.
Pouring Ribbons is a women-only booze club
Pouring Ribbons is a tasting club run by women for women, explains Hains & Co owner Marcus Motteram.
Marcus unveiled the idea in March 2019 with the aim to provide an intimidation-free space for females to learn about, and taste, expertly crafted spirits from professional boozehounds (read: makers, sellers, experts).
He asked Erica Richards – an Adelaide-based whiskey pro with over two decades of experience – to captain the female-only endeavor. She happily accepted.
Erica will commandeer the concept’s upcoming session, Made in Japan, happening Wednesday, 5 August, which will explore all things alcoholic, delicious, and Japanese.
From 7pm ’til 9pm members will explore drops like House of Suntory, Japan’s oldest and first malt whisky distillery, and vodka and gin, with a couple of snacks thrown in between.
But this is just one aspect of Erica’s broad knowledge of the booze industry.
“We’ve done everything,” Erica says, “we’ve done a whole range of alcohols.”
“We’ve done Scotch Whiskeys, we’ve done rum, we’ve had champagne. We want to continue to keep it really interesting and different, and try to educate women across all sorts of different categories.”
Highlights from the club’s history include Sydneysider distiller Harriet Lee from Archie Rose Distilling Co talking about gin, and local polymath Kayla Grigoriou of Bar Torino and Needle & Pin distillery exploring breakfast cocktails.
Made in Japan is the first Pouring Ribbons events since Hains & Co’s COIVD-19-induced temporary closure. The bar has, since 2015, served high-end gins, specialty rums, craft beers, local wines and cigars to patrons on Gilbert Place.
Marcus says the need for Pouring Ribbons emerged after noticing the bar’s other tasting and educational nights pulled roughly “one woman and 19 blokes”.
“We were trying to think of the reasoning behind this, and we thought maybe it’s just not a comfortable space to do tastings, surrounded by men,” Marcus says.
“Pouring Ribbons is more relaxed, in a way a bit more welcoming, less competitive,” Erica adds.
“We get people that are 20-year-old bartenders who want to upskill themselves outside of work. Some are stay-at-home parents. Some of our regulars work in banks. We’ve got a couple of lawyers that often come along.
“It’s a great experience. It’s a lot of fun and you meet people.”
Are you of the male persuasion and feeling excluded?
Peruse our feature on Hains & Co’s signature summer drinks (and pretend it’s not 10° outside).
Erica suggests regular spirit tasting events could be mostly made-up of male patrons because that’s how the booze industry is. This, in turn, trickles down to who’s working on the bar.
“Traditionally, it’s more difficult for women to be out and about at nighttime, outside of traditional hours,” she says.
“If you look back hundreds and hundreds of years, there are famous bartenders going back to sort of Jerry Thomas, in those days, or Harry Craddock. You don’t hear mention of any women.”
Marcus agrees, saying there are few female bartenders, but the ones who do exist get snapped up early in their careers for other roles, such as brand ambassadors or sales representatives, that boast attractive daytime hours.
Despite this theory, Pouring Ribbon’s sell-out ticket numbers are indicative of curiosity among women, Marcus says.
“We want to make sure that women feel just as comfortable here as any other person,” he says.