Hey Bartender: Charlotte Voisey takes over Bad Harriet
March is Women’s History Month, and I’d be remiss if I did not dedicate at least one Bar Talk column to writing about the importance of women in the alcohol industry.
As the month is dedicated to honoring the significant impacts women have made throughout history, it’s also crucial to recognize their influence on libations, from being the primary beer brewers in ancient Egypt, according to Smithsonian Magazine, to being recognized for creating outstanding bar programs by James Beard Awards.
Bad Harriet, guest bartender residencies
Mary Lou Mountain, March 2-6
Charlotte Voisey, March 16-20
Ivy Mix, March 24-27
“Women of Warhol” installation
A month-long installation of Andy Warhol’s original photography, featuring a curated collection from Hedges Projects that embodies Warhol’s muses. This installation serves as the backdrop for Hotel Jerome’s Bar Luminaires Series at Bad Harriet.
Reservations required for Bad Harriet: https://www.exploretock.com/badharriet
Luckily, the Hotel Jerome is giving us multiple opportunities to celebrate women in the bar industry this month – and really every month – at the hotel’s speakeasy Bad Harriet. I wrote about it previously in the Dec. 30, 2021, Bar Talk “Bad Harriet reimagined.” The nightspot’s one-week residencies run from March 2-27 featuring three of the best in the bar business.
This week, from March 16-20, renowned mixologist Charlotte Voisey is shaking things up behind the Bad Harriet bar with a curated menu of five cocktails.
Voisey is not an unfamiliar face to Aspen. She’s been coming to town since 2005 for the Food & Wine Classic, and you’ve probably seen her around the grand tasting tent or mixing up innovate cocktails at events as the head ambassador for William Grant & Sons USA, which includes brands such as Hendrick’s, Glenfiddich, Milagro and Sailor Jerry.
Also a ski enthusiast, Voisey kindly took time off the mountain during one of Aspen’s recent powder days to mix up a few drinks from her residency menu and chat with me about where she draws inspiration, the importance of recognizing women in the bar industry and what she thinks makes cocktail culture universal.
Bar Talk: How long have you been in the industry, whether it’s behind the bar or touring around the world creating cocktails?
Charlotte Voisey: So I did about five years in London, where I’m from, and that included a couple years in Argentina … and then 15 years here in the U.S. working more on the brand, events, consultant side of the industry. So I guess about 20 years. It’s been a lot of fun.
BT: You continue to return to Aspen year after year, what do you love about the town, the cocktail scene and why do you keep wanting to come back?
CV: “I fell in love with Aspen the minute I got here, unsurprisingly. My first trip was in summer (2005) for Food & Wine. Without a doubt, I mean, now 15 years in the U.S. having traveled pretty much to every single state, Aspen is definitely a highlight for food and beverage. Just the quality of the restaurants, the wine programs, which is something I don’t really work with but love to just see and dip into … and then more recently, the cocktail scene as well has been really impressive and lovely to see both sort of comfortable kind of joints where locals hang out up to something like (Bad Harriet), which is just like a world class cocktail program in a gorgeous environment.
BT: What do you think the importance is of having events like this during Women’s History Month?
CV: I think it’s really important. I’m definitely honored to be part of the International Women’s Month and really honored to be alongside Mary Lou and also Ivy Mix. I think that’s just a lovely combination of the three of us. It’s a nice way to do it, kind of give everyone their spotlight for a week, but make it about successful females in the business and hopefully that inspires others either to join the industry or just to keep going or raise awareness. There are so many fabulous women doing a fantastic job in our industry and have been for a very long time, so any moments like this that we can highlight that and just remind people and bring it to their attention that there are just phenomenal females everywhere. It is an industry that typically has been dominated by men just over the years, so it’s nice to be able to just maybe shift the perception a little bit. But hopefully it drives awareness for female bartenders everywhere, including those here in Aspen who are doing a great job and have been for a long time. Hopefully they get a bit more recognition off the back of this, as well.
BT: You mentioned that your cocktail menu for this week’s residence is new takes on classic cocktails. Where do you draw inspiration from to create drinks and key in on what the clientele are going to want?
CV: It’s a challenge in a way to get the inspiration every time but then every situation is different, right? My focus was on what do I think the Aspen consumer will like. I tried to create a menu across the five drinks that has a variety of different spirits … a little bit of everything, refreshing drinks, after dinner drinks .. to make sure there is really something for everything. (I am) also inspired by what’s hot right now and then people that have inspired me. For example I have an Old Cuban variation on the menu, and that’s a cocktail by Audrey Saunders who’s a phenomenal female bartender, one of the most inspirational in our industry, so I wanted to give a nod to her especially given that it’s International Women’s Month.
Charlotte Voisey sprinkles nutmeg on the top of the Army & Navy, one of her five signature drinks being presented at Bad Harriet’s in Aspen. | Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times
1. ATLAS Martini – Hendrick’s Gin, Bianco Vermouth, Champagne vinegar, orange bitters – Stirred and served up in a Martini glass
2. Army & Navy – Hendrick’s Gin, orgeat, fresh lime and nutmeg, with Bob’s Daiquiri bitters – Shaken and served in a Coupe
3. Old Cuban Variation – Flor de Caña 12, fresh mint, lime, angostura and Champagne – Shaken and served in a Coupe
4. Revolver – Glenfiddich, coffee liqueur, vanilla bitters, orange bitters, orange zest – Stirred and served in an Old Fashioned glass on a large ice cube
5. Cavaletta – Reyka vodka, Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe, Menta Branca, oat milk, peppermint bitters – Shaken and served up in a Coupe/Nick & Nora glass
BT: What’s your favorite bar tool?
CV: Probably the Boston shaker or the cocktail shaker. It’s pretty fundamental. This one here is from Tony Abou-Ganim in Las Vegas, Modern Mixologist. And, everything comes back to Aspen, it was with Tony that I first worked in 2005 when got (to Aspen). I’d never met him before, instantly formed a friendship and he’s been a strong mentor for me. And, actually, he does a lot for women in the industry, too.
BT: What do you think it is that makes cocktail culture universal? What is it that constantly draws people to a bar?
CV: A bar just has such an important role in society and has literally since the beginning of time. I think the bar is a bit of an equalizer, where people form all different parts of society can gather and just share a moment, and that’s been a really important part of society for the last four or 500 years.
The first time I saw “Mississippi Grind,” it was my freshman year at NYU and I had convinced this kid Ethan to come with me. He was, and still is, the smartest person I know when it comes to movies.