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When Seattle liqueur producer BroVo Spirits solicited life lessons to print on bottles of the company's "lady-made liquor," one customer suggested "the market goes up,

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Seattle Liqueur Producer Promotes "Lady-Made Liquor"

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When Seattle liqueur producer BroVo Spirits solicited life lessons to print on bottles of the company's "lady-made liquor," one customer suggested "the market goes up, the market goes down."

BroVo co-founder Mhairi Voelsgen learned that very lesson during the recent stock market crisis. Watching her 401K depreciate, Voelsgen had "a moment where I went, 'OK, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?"

Although she didn't consider herself much of a drinker, Voelsgen thought she might parlay her interest in single malt scotch into a whiskey-making enterprise. She partnered with friend Erin Brophy to investigate distilling. "I realized pretty quickly that it takes real skill to make whiskey, and we didn't have that skill yet," Voelsgen recalls.

So Voelsgen and Brophy polled local bartenders to learn what other kinds of liquor they needed. Their "market research" included drinking sessions at Ray's Boathouse, Moshi Moshi, Hazlewood and Teatro ZinZanni.

"We talked to every kind of bartender out there," says Voelsgen. "The feedback was 'We like to be creative and we want something to be creative with'."

The first four flavors in the BroVo line -- lemon balm, rose geranium, ginger, and Douglas fir -- and the BroVo bottle shape were selected in response to bartender requests. While Voelsgen says the Douglas fir variety has been popular with male drinkers, BroVo is explicitly targeting women.

"We let men drink it too," Voelsgen says, but touts the liqueur's low proof (20 percent alcohol by volume), low calorie count (100 calories per serving), and life lesson printed on every bottle ("don't polka in sling-backs") as female-friendly attributes. Voelsgen doesn't worry that BroVo is perpetuating stereotypes about female drinkers.

"We're two strong women, so we've sort of defied stereotypes," she says.

BroVo Spirits, which Voelsgen and Brophy distill in Mattawa, Wash., are now available in area liquor stores.

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