Women Who Drive Change in Our Industry

Megan Breier
Image: Megan Breier, West Coast Bourbon Ambassador, Beam Suntory

For obvious and overdue reasons, International Women’s Day is a stronger campaign than ever. The theme for this year is #PushforProgress, a call to:

  • maintain a gender parity mindset;
  • challenge stereotypes and bias;
  • forge positive visibility for women;
  • influence others’ beliefs and/or actions;
  • and celebrate women’s achievements.

This International Women’s Day we're celebrating several women in the industry whose actions, achievements and innovations certainly #PushforProgress.

There are clearly thousands upon thousands of women who contribute to our industry in meaningful ways. We in no way mean to diminish or slight any woman who deserves recognition; there are so many women out there who merit a mention that we can’t list them all here.

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Megan Breier

Beam Suntory

West Coast Bourbon Ambassador

We love Megan Breier—let us count the ways: she represents one of the finest whiskey portfolios on the planet; she knows more about bourbon (and whiskey and cocktails in general) than just about anyone we know; she’s an engaging educator who creates exciting, informative, can’t-miss bar and restaurant promotions that pack venues; she’s our May 2017 Brand Ambassador of the Month; she’s hosting one of her amazing events at the 2018 Nightclub & Bar Show at the otheroom inside Caesars Palace at the end of this month. Breier is the mind behind women and whiskey event Bourbon is My Boyfriend, American whiskey and country ham pairing event Oink & Barrel (at this year’s Nightclub & Bar Show!), and whiskey candle-making event I Am Woman, Hear Me Pour, sponsored by Maker’s Mark. Search #margiesmark on Twitter and Instagram to check out the candle event, an homage to Margie Samuels, who gave Maker’s Mark its name.

Read this: 4 Tips to Show You Value Your Women Guests, Coworkers and Employees

Molly Wellmann

Wellmann’s Brands

Rock star mixologist, cocktail designer and bartender trainer, Author, Bourbon expert

We have no idea how Molly has the time to achieve all that she does. When she isn’t leading the team at Cincinnati cocktail hot spot Japp’s, Molly is designing cocktails and overseeing the beverage programs for the other hip venues in the Wellman’s Brands portfolio, including Myrtle’s Punch Room (yes, you can get a punch flight there), the Famous Neons Unplugged and Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar (which features a reported 600 whiskeys and requires new bartenders to pass an 200-plus-word oral exam). She also trains bartenders, acts as the face of Wellmann’s Brands, is a sought-after educator and guest bartender, and is a recognized bourbon expert. Oh, and she’s self-taught.

Lydia Melton

Günter Hans European Pub & Café


This industry of ours is risky. Anyone who owns or manages a bar knows that this business isn’t for the fainthearted. Lydia Melton, owner of Günter Hans in Columbia, MO, saw her dream of ownership in this industry and made it a reality. She took out S.B.A. loans. She crowdfunded on Kickstarter. Melton made Günter Hans happen, and we’re huge fans of anyone who does what it takes to open their doors and become a successful operator. Almost five years later she’s clearly earned that title.

Kayla Robison

Nation Kitchen & Bar

Executive Chef

During a panel discussion at the 2017 Nightclub & Bar Show, Robison had this advice to share with women who aspire to be professional chefs, and it rings true to this day:

“Don't see yourself as a woman in the kitchen, see yourself as badass in the kitchen. Most importantly, make yourself heard. Whatever you have to say, always be professional, but make yourself heard.”

Kjersten Merila

Her Spirit Vodka


When Merila launched Her Spirit Vodka she was concerned with much more than just distribution, ideal retail shelf space, and being embraced by bartenders on-premise. This driven entrepreneur has legacy and women’s empowerment in mind. Her Spirit may be a relatively young brand, but Merila is certainly on the right path to achieve those two goals. Fifty percent of the profits are given back to women entrepreneurs. From the website:

“After a long day of kicking ass, you deserve a drink that understands what it means to work like a boss and be one. So pour one for the fierce females of the world and while you’re shaking things up over ice, your dollars will work overtime by investing into women entrepreneurs.”

Allison Parc

Brenne French Single Malt Whisky


Quick—how many ballerinas do you know who own a spirit company? We know one, and she’s a badass. Allison Parc leveraged the international travel that came with her career as a professional ballerina into becoming a food and drink aficionado. Over time, whisky became her passion, and Parc began a quest to find one with terroir. She eventually met a Cognac producer who was producing a whisky, the two began collaborating, and in 2012 Brenne was born. Brenne is a single malt whisky produced in Cognac, aged in French Limousin oak barrels and Cognac casks. The first expression was launched October 1, 2012, and the second expression was launched precisely three years later. We can’t wait to see what comes next!

Natalie Migliarini

Beautiful Booze

Founder, Creator, Cocktailian, Photographer, Influencer, Social Media Maven

Beautiful Booze’s Natalie Migliarini is one of the most influential voices in cocktails today. Migliarini turned her home bartending, recipe development, photography and writing passions into a revered brand with international reach in less than five years. It’s not hyperbole to say that her photography and recipes have global impact. She’s passionate about cocktails, education and empowerment, and sharing her journey with others, and we’re honored to know her.

Julia Herz

Brewers Association / CraftBeer.com

Craft Beer Program Director / Author

Advocate. Author. Certified beer judge. Certified Cicerone. Award-winning homebrewer. Educator. Blogger. Herz’s achievements are plentiful and it seems like there’s always another one around the corner. Case in point: the Brewers Association’s Beer & Food Course, which she co-wrote. Herz is driven to educate, and this course was created with a specific person in mind: the culinary student. The course Herz co-authored teaches these students about beer, from pouring and presentation to food pairing.

Kelly Magyarics, Amanda Baltazar, Whitney Larson and Nancy A. Shenker

KellyMagyarics.com, Chater Ink, Vēmos, and theONswitch, respectively

Nightclub & Bar editors

We want to thank our fierce women editors this International Women’s Day. Each is a powerful voice in this industry (and beyond) and have helped educate, inspire and motivate aspiring and existing owners, operators, managers, bartenders and others. Thank you so much!