Pacific Palisades’ This Girl Walks Into a Bar Caters

By Sarah Stockman
Staff Writer

This Girl Walks Into a Bar is a cocktail catering company in Pacific Palisades, run by Jordan Catapano and her younger sister, Jocelyn Dunn Malbach.

A Palisades resident, Catapano grew up in San Diego but spent all her time dreaming about living in Los Angeles.

“I wanted to live in L.A. since I could read freeway signs,” Catapano said. “In San Diego, all the northbound freeways have Los Angeles spelled out across 4 lanes, and I sensed it would be a big and exciting city to live in one day.”

In 1996, after graduating from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in theater, she moved permanently to L.A. to pursue a career in TV and film writing.

Sisters Jocelyn Dunn Malbach (left) and Jordan Catapano run the drink catering com- pany This Girl Walks Into a Bar.

While waiting for projects to get picked up, she started waitressing and then bartending. “I was waitressing and decided that I was running around a lot more than the bartenders were and for a lot less money, so I asked the manager if I could train to bartend and he said ‘No,’” Catapano recalled. “Then I asked if I could come in off the clock and work for free as a bar-back for all the bartenders. He agreed to that and after three weeks, I landed a job as a bartender at Le Merigot in Santa Monica.”

Every night she mixed drinks and spoke with customers into the wee hours of the morning, loving every moment of it. Women would come up to her and ask how she became a bartender. She found it flattering but also distracting.

“I was bartending and women would ask how I did it … and I found myself giving the same advice night after night,” Catapano said.

One night, after answering that same question over and over again, she looked for a book she could show people.

“I went to the bookstore and there was nothing there,” Catapano said. In that moment, she was inspired. “I told myself that I was going to channel my energy into writing what I know.”

The fruit of her inspiration was published in 2012 under the title “This Girl Walks Into A Bar.” She co-wrote it with her sister, Jocelyn Dunn Muhlbach. Dunn Muhlbach was, and still is, a freelance graphic designer who owns a company called Petit Bureau. Catapano and Dunn Muhlbach also launched a blog that year. “It was just a platform to promote the book,” Catapano said.

“[But] it just took off.”

Catapano believes this is because, although men have always dominated the industry, women are just as interested in becoming bartenders but aren’t offered the opportunity.

“The industry has always been dominated by men,” she said. “We’re not seeing as many [female bartenders] as we thought would go into the industry.”

Since launching their book and blog, the sisters have been partnering with companies like Dole and Tabasco to develop cocktail and mocktail recipes using their products. They also published an etiquette handbook called “This Girl Minds Her P’s and Q’s” (2014) and “Cocktails for Cougars and Cowgirls” (2015).

Throughout all of this, the sisters received weekly phone calls asking them if they would participate in private events. Catapano, who moved to the Palisades in 2008, wasn’t interested in returning to the bartending life.

“I have two kids at Corpus Christi [who are 12 and 10] and I’m the room mom,” she said. “I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to be behind the bar.”

Catapano is married to Frank Catapano, who owns advertising company Reach Agency in Santa Monica.

Catapano’s solution? To open a bartending catering service with her sister called This Girl Walks Into a Bar, featuring female bartenders.

“In this area, people entertain frequently,” Catapano noted. “Monday through Friday there’s an event, whether it’s a small dinner party or a wedding, there’s always something going on.”

This punch has bourbon, a pale ale, IPA or Mexican beer, orange juice, lime juice and bitters.

Catapano plans to capitalize on this. At the moment, she and her sister manage a staff of eight female bartenders but she hopes to increase that number to 25 by mid-November.

“We’re meeting so many young women who are articulate and can make a good drink,” she said . “The women we’re hiring are confident, are articulate [and] intelligent.”

Catapano said that at the moment they cater mostly within the Palisades, but hope to change that. Her sister lives in Redondo Beach and they want to expand down the coast.

“Jocelyn is the brains behind the branding,” Catapano said. “She designed all of our books and maintains the branding for our website and marketing materials. She’s my sister but also my best friend, and has the best business sense.”

This Girl Walks Into a Bar catering is multifaceted. The bartenders can show up and serve drinks chosen by the hosts or they can create drinks specific for the party. They also are happy to shop for the event or just show up and bartend.

In the future, she hopes to market some of the drink mixes they’ve created. “Our margarita, bloody Mary, and pineapple mojito mixes are to die for.”

“I feel like people are really excited,” she said. “We live in a great time for women in business.”

Catapano is currently hiring new bartenders. No bartending experience is necessary, since Catapano believes the best experience is learning on the job.

To learn more or apply for a job, visit thisgirlwalksintoabar.com or email thisgirl@thisgirlwalksintoabar.com.

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