Ask me about pirates. Not about being a female bartender.

Harriet Leigh has some opinions on great women pirates of history and why they would have made great women bartenders.

I was asked to write an article called: “What Is It Like To Be A Woman Working Behind The Bar Who Is Always Asked About What It Is Like To Be A Woman Working Behind The Bar?”

If nothing I am a diligent beast so I wrote the article.

Then I read it.

Then I asked a colleague to read it.

Then we both agreed it was really boring (perhaps mirroring the mundane nature of the question…)

So on deadline day I wrote to my dear editor and told her I had failed her and to fill the void with a review for some new limited edition sexy gin from an inner Sydney distillery or something.

But then inspiration struck in the form of the headline: Great Female Pirates Of History And Why They Would Have Made Great Bartenders.

This is not made up. There were great female pirates. And I think it’s not a leap to see that the same characteristics that make women good at piracy make women good at tending the bar. Let’s look at the evidence.

They work harder.

Piracy, it’s not often considered a female domain. Which is why the women who climbed the ladder (rope not corporate) to success in the world of swash-buckling thievery had to be more fearsome and brave than their male counterparts. This is a common theme in the history of women’s success stories. Don’t be as good. Be better.


If there is one thing Johnny Depp has taught me; it’s that to be a good female pirate you’d need to drink lots of rum, probably more than your male peers. Maybe better rum. Rum that proved your voyages of the world.

You’d probably need to extol the virtues of rare West Indian rum you’ve encountered on your far-flung travels.

Maybe you have some knowledge of British Naval rum from hauls you’ve seized from your battles with the redcoats on the high seas.

Maybe you have a palate for agricoles from your explorations in the French Caribbean.

Your knowledge of rum will prove your stories of pillaging (you might have done less raping than One-Eyed Willie but you’ll sure as hell match him for pillaging, make no mistake). If you can whip out some Cachaça and know what to do with it, everyone will know you know one end of a map of Brazil from the other.

Sword play.

If anyone knows the fine art of sabrage, it’s a pirate. Knowing just how to slice that seal is going to make sure you don’t look like a proper Nancy in front of your toothless mates. Nothing worse than someone who disrespects booze or weapons. Nothing. Master that Cutlass and that Sabre too while you’re at it (enough of that, let’s get back on brand).


Lord knows why people think this is for boys. Everyone knows that women have higher pain thresholds, and a better eye for detail and colour. So I’m not going to waste time on why female pirates have better tattoos.

Fast wits.

Every movie I’ve ever seen on pirates suggests that being funny is a large part of being a pirate, many fights are won with some drollery before a sword is pulled (I’m fairly sure this is historically correct).

This is certainly the case with bartending. Many drunks can be persuaded to leave before starting a fight if they realise that they are no match for the might of the wit behind the bar.

And most lotharios’ enticements are easily deflated with a small prick to the ego with a quick quip.


A well-fitted waist-coast is an excellent way to let your clientele know you are there for business. That’s why pirates, as well as bartenders, wear them. I think.


I’m sure we all agree so I needn’t go on.

Women pirates: Be scared, they know how to drink rum.

Women bartenders: please ask us questions about bartending or piracy. Please stop asking us about being women behind the bar.
(Image note: Harriet Leigh is a time travelling pirate and is picture above, on the left.)

Send via Email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles