A far cry from a finger of whiskey in a smoky bar, the world of fine liquor isn’t the boys’ club it used to be. Women are climbing the ranks and taking numbers in distilling and blending fields. Take a look at Cathy Plourde and Kara Larson, owners of Rhode Island Spirits, whose Coffee and Black Walnut Vodka is the star of the Espresso Martini at Hotel Viking’s One Bellevue.
“As you dive further into the beverage world, you begin to realize what an impact women have had on the industry in such a strong way,” says Assistant Food and Beverage Director Alex Pendergrass, who, with the help of former colleague Christina Mercado, has found a way to highlight Newport women through One Bellevue’s Cocktail Club. “I’m looking to have each cocktail modeled after a woman of note, using spirits that are women-owned, -distilled, or -blended.”
The Cocktail Club, a casual mixology class that takes place Thursdays, emerged as a way for guests to engage with the elusive science of spirits. “As a restaurant, the last several years have seen so many changes that we wanted to get back to the fundamentals of connecting on a more intimate level,” explains Pendergrass, who leads the sessions. In a socially distanced and safe setting, each class begins with a tasting of three spirits from the same family, noting distillation processes and flavors, followed by a signature cocktail demo and then building your own. A round of canapes complements an evening of sipping. For March, Pendergrass looks forward to itineraries featuring Dewar’s Scotch (whose master blender is a woman) and of course a Rhode Island Spirits vodka or gin.