A Woman of Whiskey: Jessica Fesler

Double Helix bar manager Jessica Fesler | Photo by Laura Larson

Double Helix bar manager Jessica Fesler | Photo by Laura Larson

Women are increasingly ditching their vodka for whiskey, and that’s just fine by Jessica Fesler, Double Helix Wine & Whiskey Bar’s bar manager. Her “Keepin’ It Classy” Sunday ladies night (8 p.m.-close, in Town Square, DoubleHelixWine.com) offers $4 whiskey cocktails to encourage women to try the spirit that has in the past been linked exclusively to masculinity.

“For some reason, whiskey is one of those things that fell to having that male stigma,” she says. “It’s something people just have to get over.” And they are. Fesler, who’s been bartending for eight years, has seen the change first hand.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the show Mad Men. Now classic cocktails are really coming to the forefront,” Fesler says. “Whiskey companies are all for it because it’s an untapped market. You’re seeing commercials now with all these really elegant ladies drinking whiskey on the rocks.”

Fesler’s passion for whiskey began with the challenge of making whiskey cocktails that honored the spirit without drowning it. “You learn how to work with something as opposed to working over it,” she says.  But she also loves whiskey for reasons that are themselves a mixture of practical and romantic. “There are very strict regulations that pertain to what can be in [a 21-year-old whiskey], and it’s not a lot. It’s water, grain, yeast and 21 years,” she says. “If you think about everything that’s happened to you in the last 21 years of your life and put a flavor to that, that’s what a lot of these whiskeys are.“

The sazerac at Double Helix

The sazerac at Double Helix

During her ladies night, Fesler’s strategy is to introduce whiskey newbies to a cocktail such as the New York Sour.  She then moves on to something a little more stripped down—a Manhattan or Old Fashion maybe, to better showcase the whiskey. “Then, before you know it, I want a Basil Hayden with two ice cubes,” she says.

Fesler encourages her guests to ask questions and not be intimidated by not knowing their preferences yet. “There is a lot to talk about, and once you get into it, it’s kind of like being a part of a weird secret society.” She’s also successfully turned a group of former wine drinkers into serious whiskey fans. “Women have better palates then men. They can actually appreciate [whiskey] more, because they can pull out subtle, light flavors.” And nothing makes Fesler happier than seeing a woman order a whiskey neat. “It’s like seeing a chick on a Harley.”

So drink like a woman, and make it a whiskey. 


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