Happy Women’s History Month! The biddies discuss a favorite book of theirs, Girly Drinks, written by Mallory O’Meara – which dives into the history of women and alcohol and several famous (or should be famous) women figures who have paved the way for us to be the boozy biddies we are today.



Study Notes for Girly Drinks:

Introducing Mallory O’Meara

  • Writer, first book was Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Millicent Patrick
    • Patrick was a makeup artist, actor, special effects designer and animator
    • First female animator at Walt Disney Studios
    • Trend – feminism!
  • Second book, Girly Drinks!
  • Hosts literary podcast Reading Glasses
  • Was frustrated that when she first got into really good cocktails, there weren’t a lot of stories about anyone who wasn’t white or male – so she wrote a book full of them

History of Alcohol

  • Alcohol was a high calorie food so we (monkeys) were biologically predisposed to be attracted to it – cites Dr. Dudle from UC Berkeley’s theory that ancient apes were attracted to fermented fruit, but wouldn’t have been able to eat enough of it to get a buzz
  • We don’t know when people really began to drink, but one of the earliest depictions of a person drinking is a 25,000 year old (or so) cliff carving the Venus of Laussel in the Dordogne region of France that depicts a woman (breasts!) with a drinking horn
    • “Some male historians posit that it is not a drinking horn but rather some kind of musical instrument that the woman is holding incorrectly. Imagine being so staunch in your belief that women aren’t drinkers that you think someone would take the time to immortalize a picture of the world’s worst hornblower into the side of a cliff.”
    • The woman has her hand on her belly, footnote: “Many historians assume she is pregnant, but wow, how rude.”
    • The woman was likely drinking mead, which is fermented honey
    • Early humans may have found beehives that had been filled with rainwater and started to ferment and then drinking it
  • 8000 BCE humans settle down and take up agriculture, giving them the means to make alcohol
    • “By resources, I mean dedicated containers in which to replicate the process they had been taking advantage of for thousands of years.”
    • In Mesopotamia, humans started growing crops specifically for alcohol production
      • There women were primarily regarded as wives and mothers, but they could also engage in trade and business, and could be priestesses. No stigma for sex work. But women ruled the industry of brewing.
    • Sumer, also in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, is the world’s earliest known civilization existing from 4500 to 1900 BCE
      • “There’s evidence that writing itself was invented to record and quantify the beer-making process.”
        • Beer was a nutritional staple that pretty much everyone drank 
          • Beer was typically made from malted barley (malt = germinated and roasted)
          • High in calories and carbs and contained small amounts of vitamins like calcium and vitamin B6
        • Since everyone drank beer, the women of Uruk, capital of Sumer, brewed on a “massive scale”
        • Beer was a part of culture and religion – made religious offerings of beer
          • Goddess of beer was Ninkasi and beer was often brewed in her temples by her priestesses
            • The women who worked there were often paid in beer
        • Women didn’t just make the beer but drank it – without stigma – too
    • In Egypt, we have Hathor, the drunken goddess
      • Egyptian beer or hek was also a nutrition staple and was first brewed by women in their homes, but was then made on a larger scale
        • The ruins of the first brewery in the world is in Egypt and dates back to 3400 BCE, and was also run by women
      • No stigma for women drinking either in Egypt, and drinking was often tied to sexuality. They drank beer and more affluent women drank wine.
        • “There was an affluent Egyptian woman named Cratiankh (birth and death dates unknown) whose tomb inscription read I was a mistress of drunkenness, one who loved a good day, who looked forward to [having sex] every day, annointed with myrrh and perfumed with lotus scent. This is all we know about Chratiankh, but what else is there to know? Be the Cratiankh you wish to see in the world.”
    • In both Egypt and Mesopotamia women had many rights and could work an own property and drink. 
      • “If you want to know how a society treats its women, all you have to do is look into the bottom of a glass.”
    • Then this ass Hammurabi ruined everything – he wanted to conquer and unite all of Mesopotamia, and once he did, he created a code of 282 rules in 1754 BCE
      • “A lot of folks believe (because it’s taught in American schools) that it was a positive turning point for civilization. But it was bad news from women.”
        • To “protect” women the code took away most of women’s freedoms and made them the property of their husbands or fathers
          • Forbidden from working outside the home and lost control of the brewing industry
          • Women could be burned to death for entering taverns
          • “The Code of Hammurabi made a drinking woman a bad woman, a corrupt woman, a disreputable woman.”


  • Issues with marketing to women 
    • Skinnygirl Margarita mix and “skinny drinks”
      • “The problem with Skinnygirl –besides the fact that diet culture is a toxic dumpster fire that financially preys on the bodily insecurities of women that were manufactured by a society that profits from them…” is that it doesn’t even save you many calories
      • “Maybe someday, companies shilling skinny drinks will realize that the last thing a woman needs after a long day is to pick up a bottle that is going to body-shame her.”
    • Wine mom stereotype
  • Positive movements highlighting the contributions of women
    • Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela becomes the first Black woman in South Africa to open a microbrewery, works to highlight the work of other women brewers and offers training
    • Deborah Brenner, author of Women of the Vine about 20 women winemakers in CA organized first global symposium of Women of the Vine and Spirits
      • Symposium has since become an organization for the advancement of women in the wine and spirits industry
    • Dr. Nicola Nice cofounded the Women’s Cocktail Collective, a group of leading female spirits producers
      • Also created a gin brand with women consumers in mind, award-winning Pomp and Whimsy


  • “For a woman, having a drink in public is still a test of how society will treat her.”
  • “All drinks are girly drinks” because women have played a critical role in every part of alcohol’s development