Read Time 12 Minutes
You know the places, and now you need to know the faces. Go behind the bar and get to know 7 of Birmingham’s most talented female bartenders. Find out where they’ve been, who inspires them and what to order the next time you go.
Laura Newman and Her Girl Gang at Queen’s Park
Laura Newman didn’t originally come from Brooklyn to Birmingham in 2017 to open Queen’s Park. But once she saw the booming food & wine scene, revitalization of downtown and felt the warmth of southern hospitality, she knew she was here to stay.
In 2018, Laura became the first woman ever to win the US Bartenders Guild World Class Competition, and placed second at the global finals—a huge accomplishment and an inspirational feat for female bartenders everywhere.
Laura and Larry “Mudd” Townley—her fiancé and business partner—opened Queen’s Park (Miracle on 24th Street at first) later that year. And when it came to building her team, Laura knew she wanted to use her role to help other ladies in the business.
“When I was working as a bartender, I had no female mentorship and wasn’t aware of very many successful women in the bar industry. It can be very disheartening to not see anyone who looks like you in the top tier of your industry, which is why I love being able to be a positive female role model for my employees.”
When it comes to crafting cocktails, Laura draws inspiration from a few important women in her life:
“Julie Reiner inspires me to be true to myself. Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero inspire me to use my role in this industry to support the less fortunate. Alba Huerta inspires me to lead with humility and grace. And LeNell Camacho Santa Ana inspires me to lift up other women. Most of all, I’m inspired by my mom—she’s my sounding board, life coach, and a total badass.”
Campesino Cocktail of Choice? Queen’s Park Swizzle + Campesino Aged
Hangover Cure? Bacon burger & fries from Hamburger Heaven
One word to describe your bartending style? Smooth
Rachael Roberts at The Atomic
If you know Birmingham, then you must know The Atomic. And if you know The Atomic, you need to know Rachael Roberts—co-owner and co-conspirator of the beloved Birmingham bar. Although they’ve only been open for 2 ½ years, they already have two James Beard nods under their belt.
“This is the first project that my husband Feizal and I have opened together, and we did it as newlyweds…We’re grateful for how it’s been received, and the national recognition is an added honor (though unexpected for a bar with a costume program and temporary tattoo garnishes).”
According to Rachael, the draw is the feeling of home for patrons. From the comfy couches and nooks to family photos and trophies (that all mostly belong to the couple)—the vibe is warm and inviting while at the same time brings a new surprise each visit.
And now that she’s got the whole opening, managing and co-owning a bar thing down, Rachael’s venturing into the world of music.
“I grew up in a musical home, so it was something that I got into naturally… I describe the sound as Pink Floyd fronted by Patsy Cline. It’s a vocally driven Southern sound with toned down psychedelic and haunting components.”
Campesino Cocktail of Choice? The Artemus Hill + Campesino Silver
Hangover Cure? 2 Ibuprofen and a pint of water… OR a bacon, egg and OJ breakfast—with lots of fluids.
One word to describe The Atomic? Memorable
Juliana Campbell at Highlands Bar and Grill
While Juliana Campbell has only been behind the bar at Highlands for 6 months, the service industry is not new territory for her. With 10+ years of experience in various roles, she developed a passion for fine wine and craft beverages early on.
She moved to Birmingham 3 years ago, and after an unexpected career change, she returned to the craft at one of Birmingham’s best: Highlands Bar and Grill.
“The bartending community I have in Birmingham was nothing but supportive of me pursuing a position at Highlands...
To have a strong network of people pushing each other toward excellence in an often unforgiving, ever-changing industry is something to be extremely proud of and grateful for in a small city in the south.”
Juliana is among a handful of women who have graced the HBG bar, but she says her experience so far has been nothing but warm, welcoming and full of learning from peers that have been at Highlands for decades.
“While I was in training and picking the brain of the Chef de Cuisine, Zack Redes, he said he felt the number one rule in the Highlands kitchen is to ‘respect the ingredients’.
And that, I really think encompasses what it means to pursue excellence in your craft from start to finish—using the best materials, knowing why they are the best, and presenting them in a way that best accentuates their essence transcends beyond the kitchen to every aspect of bartending as well.”
When she’s not slinging fine wine & food at award winning restaurants in Birmingham, you can find her seeing shows with her husband at Saturn, browsing Hop City’s craft beer and wine, or taking her pups Stella and Winnie to the park.
Campesino Cocktail of Choice? Campesino Aged XIV on the rocks + a dash of bitters and a lime wedge or orange peel.
Hangover Cure? 2 Excedrin Migraines with a cold Coca-Cola, 30 minute nap + a chicken biscuit from Jack’s
One word to describe your bartending style? Moxie, or “strength of mind to carry on in spite of adversity”
Annalee Uptain at Cayo Coco
Annalee Uptain got her start behind the bar in 2008, on the day she turned 21 at The Globe in Tuscaloosa. She planned on the 9-5 life when she moved to Birmingham in 2013—but there was one problem. She hated it. So she went back to what she knew, and started at Melt in 2015 where she would stay for 3.5 years.
Now you can find her at Cayo Coco—a new and very popular rum bar + restaurant in Founder’s Station. She’s been there since day one, involved in growing the team, drink + food menus and more.
“It’s been a whirlwind. It feels like years and sometimes it feels like days. You can feel that we’re building something amazing though…the way we’re able to collaborate and inspire each other is like no team I’ve ever worked with before.”
Being a part of Birmingham’s cocktail scene for the past 5 years, Annalee has seen some incredible women at the forefront pushing it forward.
“Birmingham is finally getting the national recognition we’ve deserved for a long time. It’s really cool though that the females are at the forefront.”
When she’s off work, you can find her lunchin’ around Birmingham at El Barrio, Trattoria Zaza, or The Essential. After hours, her go-to late night food is Shu Shop, always.
Campesino Cocktail of Choice? A Campesino Rum Espresso Martini
Hangover Cure? Sleep
One word to describe your bartending style? Fun
Lauren Delashaw at The Collins Bar
A part of the Birmingham service industry for 10 years and bartending for 4, Lauren Delashaw at The Collins knows how to make a unique drink. Her inspiration in Birmingham comes from a mix of places and people—including some names mentioned in this article.
“It’s so exciting to be a part of an industry that indulges in the craft behind cooking and bartending. Birmingham has grown so much in the past few years, and being connected to that growth is extremely rewarding.”
One of her favorite aspects of her job is constantly exploring new flavor profiles and how unlikely ingredients bond beautifully—the perfect passion for someone working behind the bar at Collins.
Their unique take on ordering a cocktail is something every local has to experience more than once. All you have to do is give the bartender your flavor profile. You can be as vague or specific as you’d like. Tell them you’re craving Campesino, name a few flavors you’d like to taste, and they’ll take it from there.
This method fosters so much creativity and definitely keeps Lauren on her toes.
“Being challenged like that every night absolutely makes us better bartenders…the moment a guest’s eyes light up when you deliver a beautiful libation that’s nailed their flavor profile all in a timely manner, makes all the hard work worth it.”
Campesino Cocktail of Choice? Campesino Mango Mai Tai
Hangover Cure? Coconut water and a B12
One word to describe your bartending style? Vivacious
Megan Miller at Fancy’s on 5th
Born in Bessemer and bartending for 15 years, Megan Miller has seen first hand the boom of the Birmingham food & wine scene from behind the bar at some of Birmingham’s best like On Tap Sports Cafe, Mafiaoza’s and now, Fancy’s on Fifth.
She brought with her lessons from each place that have helped shape her career and set her apart. Like the importance of bartender knowledge from her time at On Tap in The Galleria, and the importance of guest connection + personalized service during her time at Mafiaoza’s in Crestline.
“At some point, as the ‘craft’ developed in our industry, so did a wall of pretentiousness between service staff & the guest. Everyday I work hard to use knowledge and guest interaction as a tool to break that wall down. I want guests to feel special, and Fancy’s has been my ultimate platform to achieve that.”
Since her start at Fancy’s 3 ½ years ago, she’s seen Avondale take off. By introducing an adventurous menu of craft cocktails, she was able to bring a new group of people out of their neighborhoods + villages to experience the flavor of Fancy’s.
“I knew there was this whole market of guests that had a connection to the Avondale area that felt there wasn’t anything for them… So we built it, and they came!
With the success of our program, I think we really helped to make Avondale the place for everyone… Avondale truly represents the beautiful rainbow of the new Birmingham that I am proud to call home.”
When it comes to inspiration, you’ll see names like Steva Casey, Paget Pizitz and Harriet Despinakis at the top of Megan’s list.
“Steva Casey has always been a professional idol of mine, and she was a big reason why I decided to make the move to Avondale… she has a wonderful way of always keeping her hand on the pulse of what’s next in our bar community.
Paget Pizitz & Harriet Despinakis inspire me to be better every day. They are the owners of Melt & Fancy’s on 5th, and in my humble opinion are the Queens of Avondale! These two women are a big reason why Avondale has become what it is today, and are so heavily invested in Avondale and the women running their businesses.”
Campesino Cocktail of Choice? Old Fashioned + Campesino Silver—a little hibiscus simple, Jamaican spiced bitters, and finish with a lime peel.
Hangover Cure? Carpano Antica Original Formula Vermouth on the rocks. Paired with a bacon cheeseburger + fries.
One word to describe your bartending style? Personable
Rachael Moore at Black Market 280
Rachael Moore has lived in Birmingham since she was 7 years old and started bartending when she was 21. She got her start at old Birmingham favorites like Fire and Ice + Bell Bottoms—and has been behind the bar in Birmingham for 12 years total.
After being at Black Market for 6 years, she wanted a change of pace, so she did a stint at Queen’s Park with Laura and Mudd.
“I loved that every day was a new challenge and a new way to look at bartending… Laura is an incredible book of knowledge. You can never get bored learning from her. The other girls at the bar are also such amazing inspirations and I loved working alongside them.”
She eventually made her way back to Black Market, where you can still find her today.
“My favorite part of Black Market is the family. It is the same faces every day. I know everyone’s stories and drink orders. It really is Birmingham’s own Cheers.”
And the family-feeling isn’t limited to the crew and regulars at Black Market—but spans across the city throughout all aspects of the Birmingham food & beverage community.
“When I was younger and an angsty teenager, I could not wait to leave Birmingham. As time and improvements to the city have come, I have fallen madly in love with the Birmingham scene. It really is like a huge family. I love how everyone helps out and is encouraging to everyone else.”
If you find her behind the bar at Black Market, make sure to order a banana daiquiri—her current favorite—or ask her about her pumpkin spice daiquiri.
Campesino Cocktail of Choice? A Banana Daiquiri + Campesino Aged Rum
Hangover Cure? “No less than three.” Water, a carbonated beverage or an apple juice, and then a hair of the dog drink. Rachael’s latest obsession is a bushwhacker topped with Campesino Aged + 99 bananas.
One word to describe your bartending style? Flamboyant
Look out for these ladies next time you’re at happy hour, and tell them we sent ya!
Know of more women doing awesome work behind the bar in Birmingham? Tag us on social @BhamNow!