In our recent FOOD volume we spoke to some incredible Girl Bosses in one of the most exciting industries out there: the drinks industry. If you’ve not snagged a print copy of Vol 13 – grab one now for our top 5 Girl Boss drinks brands and wise words from some amazing women. If you have already and you are looking for some more wisdom, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s our interview with EmmaLi Stenhouse, badass brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry!
HOC: Hey EmmaLi, tell us a little about yourself and what your role as a Sailor Jerry’s Brand Ambassador entails?
EmmaLi: I consider myself really lucky to get to work on a brand I’m so passionate about. I get to travel all around the UK, and sometimes beyond, talking to interesting people about Norman Sailor Jerry Collins, tattoos and rum. I mainly focus on education, trade, events and brand partnership. Every day is different. One day I might be teaching a team of young bartenders how to mix drinks, the next I might be sponsoring an art exhibition in a local tattoo shop. It definitely keeps me on my toes.
HOC: What drew you into working in spirits?
EmmaLi: My friend worked in a local bar and we were having a drink before her shift started, and the next thing I knew I’d somehow been roped into covering someone after they’d phoned in sick. They had a small cocktail bar that I ended up helping out on, and as soon as I got a taste for it, that was it really. I loved experimenting with flavours and learning new skills. The more I researched and learned, the more fascinating I found it. The hospitality industry can be an amazing family to be a part of, and that kind of just draws you in too!
HOC: What is it about Sailor Jerry’s that you can’t get enough of?
EmmaLi: Sailor Jerry was a real character and an absolute badass. I get the honour of telling his story to people, and sharing a little piece of history and inspiration. He was a legendary tattoo artist who still inspires artists and fans all over the world, and I get to introduce people to that and inspire others. I genuinely love the brand, so it’s pretty easy. Our rum is at the heart of it, but there are so many other facets to the brand I get to be involved in, such as art, tattoos, music and motorcycles – there’s always something cool happening.
HOC: When you started out in your career, where did you want it to go? And how does that compare to where you are now?
EmmaLi: I never really thought it could be a career. Like a lot of bartenders I started out when I was 18, just having fun and earning some cash while I tried to work out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I loved it, and I turned out to be pretty good at it. After a few years I got to a point where I wanted a new challenge, but I’d already fallen in love with the bar industry, so when the Sailor Jerry Ambassador role came up, and I had the opportunity to combine my love of rum and my love of Sailor Jerry tattoos, obviously I went for it. I didn’t really have much of a clue as to what a Brand Ambassador was, or what I was getting myself into at the time. So, I guess I had no real expectations of where it might go, which is maybe why I’m so grateful for where I’ve managed to get to so far. I have the coolest job in the world, and I genuinely love what I do, and not a lot of people can say that.
HOC: What does a typical day look like working with Sailor Jerry’s?
EmmaLi: Like most people I’ll get up and check my never ending flow of emails! Then I’ll probably get ready to head to a training session which involves grabbing some bar kit and jumping on a train or plane to talk to some bartenders about Sailor Jerry and make drinks. It’s always fun when you’re in a different city and get to spend some time checking out new places and seeing old friends, that is unless I have to rush back to pour some Sailor Jerry cocktails at a new tattoo shop or at clothing store having a private party. I might then have an early start again in the morning to go and present to some of our key customers at a flashy head office, or meet with an artist about a new project. It’s kind of all over the place!
HOC: What’s it like, being a woman in what we imagine is a male dominated industry?
EmmaLi: There are so many incredible women absolutely slaying it in our industry right now. I am hugely inspired by so many of them, and it’s great to see their talent being celebrated, which makes me feel pretty proud.
It’s generally always been a male dominated industry and I probably had to put up with a bit more crap than some of the guys out there but nothing too bad. I am pretty feisty, and I think that probably helped, more so when I was managing bars than in my role now, because sometimes it feels like you’ve got to work that little bit harder to earn the same respect. When you look at lot of the successful women and Brand Ambassadors in the drinks industry right now, we are usually pretty similar in that sense I think – strong, fiery, and fearless. That said, I’ve pretty much always I felt that it was merit and talent, not gender, that had the biggest impact on where I am today. I’m not sure if that’s just me being lucky, but I’ve always felt supported and respected by both the men and the women in this industry.
HOC: Your job must take you on the road a lot ; where’s your favourite place for a rum cocktail (hopefully Tiki!) in the UK?
EmmaLi: That’s a tough one! I love a good dive bar, where you can get an ice cold beer and a Sailor Jerry daiquiri, with decent tunes on the juke box. Bunny Jackson’s Juke Joint in Manchester is one of the best, so is Slim Jim’s Liquor store in Islington, London. But if you want something Tiki you cant go wrong in Smugglers Cove in Liverpool, tasty as hell!
HOC: Which women are doing great things in the food and drink industry at the moment?
EmmaLi: Rosey Mitchell recently won the Global Compass Box Whisky competition and is absolutely killing it in Three Sheets at the moment. Sasha Filimonov has taken over as the UK Hendrick’s Gin ambassador and is slaying it, and The Balvenie have just announced Kelsey McKechnie is beginning a prestigious Malt Master apprenticeship under David Stewart MBE. There’s too many more to mention!
HOC: What ambitions do you have for your future and Sailor Jerry’s – what’s coming up in the near future?
EmmaLi: This year we’ve been pretty busy already. We launched Jerry’s Open House for a month-long event in Glasgow, where we launched a new bottle design and have had a busy summer of events and going out to festivals to sample cocktails. We’ve still got more coming up, but as our festival season is winding down its time to start planning for next year. We’ve got some exciting stuff lined up!
HOC: Can you tell us about a recent ‘Girl Boss Moment’ you had in your work? i.e. an experience where you felt proud that you’d totally nailed it.
EmmaLi: This is trivial but for years I always wished I could open a beer without a bottle opener. Like when someone uses a lighter or a jigger or a spoon or really any flat solid object. I was super jealous when other people could do it.
Someone finally showed me how to do it, and now every single time I open a beer I feel like a boss. Especially when it surprises a guy. Especially if that guy had just offered to open my beer for me.
HOC: What’s your favourite drink with Sailor Jerry’s and can we have a cheeky recipe?
EmmaLi: I am a purist when it comes to my rum – so I love a well-balanced spiced daiquiri. Mix 2 shots of Sailor Jerry with 1 shot of lime juice and 1 shot of sugar syrup. Shake it with ice until it’s nice and chilled. Pour it into a martini glass, or serve it on the rocks if you like. You can add raspberries or flavoured syrups if you’re less of a purist! It couldn’t be simpler. Or a Jerry Loves Ginger is dead simple but tastes great. Mix 1 part Sailor Jerry with 3 parts ginger beer, squeeze in a lime wedge or two and top it up with ice. The ginger beer brings out the spices in the rum like vanilla and cinnamon, and the lime adds some zesty balance.
HOC: How can people follow what you are up to? Instagram / Twitter?
EmmaLi: @EmmaliStenhouse is where you’ll find all my shenanigans. And if you “like” the Sailor Jerry UK Facebook page you’ll see what we’re up to and how to get involved.