Meet Mallory O’Meara, Author of Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol!

San Mateo County Libraries welcomes Mallory O’Meara and Alex Brown , opens a new windowon Wednesday, November 2, at 6:30 PM. O'Meara will discuss her newest book, Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol, before taking questions from the audience.

Once you've registered, you'll receive your Zoom invitation!

Uncover How Women Brewed the First Beers, Built the First Bars and More 

The world wouldn’t have drinking culture as we know it without women. They have been marginalised in the annals of alcohol history, but their contributions are far from marginal.

—Mallory O’Meara 

Did you know that the first recorded depiction of someone drinking—in a cave painting—is of a woman? Learn all that and more in Mallory O’Meara’s award-winning book! 

Girly Drinks unveils the untold world history of the female distillers, drinkers and brewers who have played a vital role in the creation and consumption of alcohol, from ancient Sumerian beer makers and Russian bootlegging grandmothers to iconic bartenders and bar owners.  

But when exactly did drinking become a gendered act? And why have bars long been considered “places for men” when, without women, they might not even exist? 

Backed by years of thorough research, O'Meara fills a crucial gap in culinary history and dismantles the long-standing patriarchal traditions at the heart of drinking cultures around the world. O’Meara hopes that readers everywhere can look to each woman celebrated in this book—and proudly have what she’s having. 

Co-hosted with Historian Alex Brown 

Alex Brown, opens a new window is a queer Black librarian, local historian, writer and author of two books about marginalized history in Napa Valley. They are an Ignyte Award, opens a new window–winning and Hugo Award, opens a new window–nominated writer and critic who covers speculative fiction and young adult literature for, Locus Magazine, NPR Books and elsewhere. They also write on topics such as queerness, Black history, librarianship and pop culture. 

As a librarian and passionate recommender of books, they’re known as “the book doctor” with “the cure for all your reading ills.”  

Get to Know Mallory O’Meara 

When I started getting into cocktails, all I wanted to do was read the history behind them. I quickly noticed that all the written histories of alcohol and cocktails mostly left out anyone that wasn’t white and male. . . . So, I took matters into my own hands..

—Mallory O’Meara 

Mallory O’Meara is the award-winning and bestselling historian and writer of The Lady From the Black Lagoon and Girly Drinks. Every week, she co-hosts the literary podcast Reading Glasses, opens a new window. She lives in the mountains near Los Angeles with her two cats, where she is working on her next nonfiction book for younger readers, Girls Make Movies, opens a new window 

In 2022, Girly Drinks won a James Beard Award , opens a new window for excellence in culinary nonfiction, and was nominated for a Spirited Award, opens a new window. 

Praise for Girly Drinks

As if being a woman today isn't enough cause for a drink, Mallory O'Meara has compiled an addicting history of women and the alcohol that fills their glasses. This book left me positively inebriated (not sorry) with excitement about the underrated cultural footprint women have made in the world of alcohol ... Cheers, ladies, this one's for you!Brittany Gibbons, bestselling author of The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat)?

[A] thorough, and thoroughly entertaining, history… Elegantly woven into each cheeky chapter is rigorous historical context… O’Meara glides easily from the 17th-century pulquerias of Mexico to the feminine “fern bars” of the 1970s, making sure to not to forget the queen of girly drinks: the Cosmopolitan. Provoking both thought and laughter, this serves as bracing refreshment from a master textual mixologist.Publishers Weekly, opens a new window, starred review 

Feminist and very funny... O'Meara deftly blends in equal measures of social history, gossip, and solid research, and adds enjoyable footnotes... women have discovered, invented, advanced, championed, and celebrated alcohol. Ladies? This calls for a drink.Booklist, opens a new window

At last, the feminist history of booze we’ve been waiting for! After centuries of being excluded, ignored, or treated as accessories, Mallory O’Meara has put women at the center of a global history of alcohol. From winemakers and distillers to activists, leaders, and change-makers, Girly Drinks takes us on a whirlwind tour of the role women have played in what we drink, and how, when, and why we drink it. —Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist

Cheers to Mallory O’Meara and her serious yet seriously entertaining treatise on the history of gendered drinks. Girly Drinks will introduce you to queens and nuns, bootleggers and bartenders, telling their stories and proving the point that all drinks are girly drinks. Jeanette Hurt, author of Drink Like a Woman , opens a new windowand The Joy of Cider