For International Women’s Day this year in Portland, a lucky 60 or so women entrepreneurs and leaders spent an evening celebrating inspiration, aspiration and motivation at the Nightwood Society. The idea for this “women and whiskey” event created by Maker’s Mark, was a twist on the concept of winemaker dinners, in which restaurants and wineries are paired to collaborate on wine-pairing dinners. The evening paired four standout Portland women bartenders with four women entrepreneurs and leaders, who then created cocktails featuring Maker’s Mark bourbon, each inspired by those relationships.
Innovative Cocktails Featuring Maker’s Mark Bourbon
Each of the innovative cocktails accompanied a different course in the beautiful four course meal prepared and served by the Nightwood Society, a culinary venture and private event space owned and run by an all-women collective.
The celebration was in honor of International Women’s Day, but also commemorated Margie Samuels, the co-founder of Maker’s Mark, and the creative force behind the Maker’s Mark brand. It was Margie Samuels who created the iconic red wax and the mark on the pewter seal, as well as the font on the label, and much more.
Women and Whiskey and Notes to Our Future Selves
Every element of the evening from beginning to end was meaningful and filled with thoughtfully designed details. Upon entering, each guest was invited to write an inspirational note to her future self on a small scroll and to personally date and sign a label which was then placed on a Maker’s Mark bottle into which the message was placed. Over the course of the evening each of those bottles was sealed with the Maker’s Mark signature red wax and seal and they were given to the guests as they departed.
Forging Relationship with Works of Art
The evening was emceed by the enigmatic American Whiskey Ambassador Megan Breier and Brandy Felt, Key Account Manager at Beam Suntory. To introduce each dinner course, the paired bartenders and business and community leaders were introduced and given a chance to talk about their businesses and organizations, the relationship they forged, and the cocktail inspired by that relationship. The cocktails were veritable works of art, and “bartender” feels like almost too common a term to use to refer to these innovative creators.
One of these incredible creations, called “For the Underdog” was made with Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, Lustau East India Solera Sherry, Sticky Rice Puerh Syrup (made from scratch by the bartender), bitters, and a specially designed individually laser-cut ice cube by PDX ICE. That one was created by Clara Ridabock of Victoria Bar. Another one, the cocktail designed by Kari Graczyk of Mother’s Bistro to highlight the Wetlands Conservancy, featured mint leaves hand-cut in the shape of ducks in every glass!
The four “pairings” teams were Mariyah Lowden of Jacknife Bar with Moriah Hilden of Women Who Whiskey PDX, Clara Ridabock of Victoria Bar with Glynis Olson of Finger Bang Nail Salons, Kari Graczyk of Mother’s Bistro with Esther Lev of The Wetlands Conservancy, and Emily Mistell of Hey Love and Michelle Battista of The Nightwood Society.
Although those relationships were planned by design in creating the evening, so many more new relationships were forged across the tables over dinner, nourished by the celebratory atmosphere, the inspired drinks and the plentiful and scrumptious food.
“I Am Woman, Hear Me Pour”
The evening felt different from other networking events, less about “me” and what “I” hope to gain, and more about “us” and what “we” can do together.
It was a perfect evening down to the smallest detail, including the stunning floral arrangements which were designed by one of the honored attendees, Rosemary Stafford, of Rosemary Stafford Floral design, and small pins for all guests with the image of Margie Samuels and “I am woman, hear me pour.”
- Maker’s Mark, https://www.makersmark.com/
- The Nightwood Society, https://www.thenightwoodsociety.com/
- Women Who Whiskey, https://www.womenwhowhiskey.club/portland
- Jackknife, https://jackknifepdx.com/
- Victoria, https://victoriapdx.com/
- Finger Bang, https://fingerbangpdx.com/
- Mother’s Bistro, https://www.mothersbistro.com/
- Wetlands Conservancy, https://wetlandsconservancy.org/
- Hey Love, https://www.heylovepdx.com/
- Rosemary Stafford, https://rosemarystafford.squarespace.com/
- On our site: Tour the Kentucky Bourbon Trail with Mint Julep Tours
-All photos by Julie Pacheco-Toye.