Empowering Women with Julia McLish


Our empowering woman of the month is Julia McLish!   

Each month we are collaborating with the talented Mike Aguilar Photography to show and feature our amazing boss girls in our community.

Julia is the owner of BarKeep, Midtown’s newest retail addition. Whether you are having a long day, looking for a gift, or just want to sit down and enjoy a drink…BarKeep is your place. Julia opened Barkeep in early July of this year and it is already starting to be a favorite in the neighborhood! A well curated store offering cocktail supply specializing in tools, ingredients, and drinkware.

Offering the largest variety of bitters in the state. BarKeep also has plenty of mixers, syrups, and tinctures that will allow you to get creative and experiment with a huge variety of flavors. Julia also offers all the tools you need to make the drinks like a pro, and she offers a cute little bar within the store to teach you how to use them. You can even come sit at the bar where Julia can make you a cocktail featuring some of the ingredients in the store and you can watch how it is done. BarKeep is also offering classes and tastings!

During her college days at UCO, Julia worked for a spirit shop called Kicking Bird in Edmond and was always thinking of recipes to sell the different types of liquor they had on their floor. She fell in love with the different spirits and the different flavors. So, when local burger joint and bar, The Garage, had an opening for a bartender with no experience, Julia applied. It was something that was out of her comfort zone and a little scary but she thought it was be a great opportunity. Over the next 5 years Julia bartended at a few local favorites including The Barrel, Powerhouse, and VZD’s.

The idea of the store came about when Julia was visiting Seattle and visited a gift shop and the store had a little mini bar in the back. She fell in love with the store and the idea of a small bar within the shop. It was an idea that she had never seen before and definitely not in Oklahoma City. And Julia was about to be pregnant with her daughter and having a local shop would offer ideal work hours to balance a family and work life. 

Soon after her decision to open BarKeep, the excitement and research started. Julia started looking for a location and Midtown was the place that she kept going back to. She wanted to be in an area with local community support with walking traffic and surrounded by other bars and local businesses as well.

If you haven’t gotten the chance to stop by BarKeep, I encourage you, it is truly a neat and unique store. You will find Julia’s infectious smiling face greeting you at the door and if you are lucky you will see her sweet mom Kathy helping out!

You can find all information by following Julia on Instagram @barkeepokc. Follow them for all upcoming Cocktail classes, new products, and new things happening in store!

Getting to Know Julia!

What made you want to open up BarKeep? 

I found it difficult to get my hands-on nice cocktail supplies outside of the bars I worked when I wanted to make cocktails at home. So, I saw something missing in the market and wanted to offer OKC something new and exciting!

How did you come up with the name? 

My mom came up with the name. The store is all about being your own bartender, or "barkeep", so we just thought it was fitting and to the point.

Why did you choose Midtown for your location? 

I wanted a small location that was walkable with lots of activity and gatherings as well as other local retail businesses nearby, so Midtown was the perfect choice. I think all of the surrounding retail/bars/restaurants are a perfect complement to what we offer at Barkeep.

What do you love most about being a business owner? 

Being my own boss and making all my own decisions. It is empowering to have a vision and to see it come to life. You never know what you are capable of until you push yourself and take risks.

What are the challenges you face being a business owner? 

Making all my own decisions! It's hard learning to trust your instincts and to not second-guess yourself. It's easy for me to over-think things, so that indecisiveness is difficult for me sometimes.

Is it hard to juggle a new born and the business? 

It's hard being away from home so much. I can't imagine doing it without my husband and my mom. I have so much appreciation for everything they have done to help me get my business going. If it weren't for them, it would have been a major struggle!

What advice would you give someone that is wanting to open up their own business? 

Think everything through and plan ahead. There are lots of things that get thrown at you unexpectedly, so leaving room for error and being able to change gears is important, I think.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published