Women in Hospitality: Brittany Merrill Yeng

women in hospitality
Did you miss our other installments in the Women in Hospitality series? Read about Hawaiian bartender Mari Howe and Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall!

Next up in our series on women leaders in the bar and restaurant industry, we speak with Brittany Merrill Yeng, co-founder and managing partner of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey.

Merrill Yeng is a chemist, turned attorney, turned unlikely spirits brand owner. She took her small, family-owned company that began with a creative peanut butter whiskey shot in her San Diego bar and grew it into a national favorite that is one of the fastest-growing spirits brands in the country, with at least double-digit growth each year in business.

We talked business, trends, and more with Merrill Yeng, in the Q&A below!


What whiskey trends do you expect to see in 2023? 

People are active and want a drink that complements their lifestyle without making any tradeoffs in taste. We are anticipating and already seeing a rise in spirits-based pre-mixed drinks. 


You’ve spearheaded one of the fastest market rollouts in the spirits industry for a brand that continues to have massive growth. What are some of the top lessons you’ve learned along the way?  

As an outsider entering the spirits industry, there have been so many lessons throughout this journey. When we started Skrewball, I was a chemist turned lawyer. This was a whole new world to me. Even something as seemingly simple as submitting an order came with all sorts of complications. It’s easy to get bogged down in all of this, but I approached it with curiosity and learned as much as I could from each person I interacted with. I am so fortunate to have had those experiences because I got to learn every aspect of my business and truly appreciate all the roles needed to get the job done.  


What does it mean to you to be a female leader in the alcoholic beverage industry? 

There is a bit of a misconception that women must create brands that are only targeted to other women. In a world where many of the products had been traditionally marketed to men, there is definitely a market for brands created for women. However, my desire was to create an inclusive brand. As a female leader in the alcoholic beverage industry, I have been conscious of ensuring our brand is not alienating any gender.   


Any advice for other women in the industry? 

Support each other and tap into your network. I have come across so many incredible women in the industry each with their own approach and talents. My first spirits convention was Women of the Vine and Spirits, which introduced me to many of the women leading the industry. At my second convention, I met Sue McCollum who used to own Major Brands distribution. I felt so welcomed to the industry by each of them. I am inspired to pay it forward and offer the same support when I see a newcomer to the industry. 


What’s your favorite whiskey cocktail at the moment? 

Espresso martini with Skrewball.


Plan to Attend or Participate in Bar & Restaurant Expo, March 27-29, 2023

To learn about the latest trends, issues and hot topics, and to experience and taste the best products within the bar, restaurant and hospitality industry, plan to attend Bar & Restaurant Expo, March 27-29, 2023 in Las Vegas. Visit BarandRestaurantExpo.com.

To book your sponsorship or exhibit space at Bar & Restaurant Expo, contact:

Veronica Gonnello ​(for companies A to G)​ e: [email protected]​ p: 212-895-8244

​Tim Schultz​ (for companies H to Q) ​e: [email protected]​ p: 917-258-8589

Fadi Alsayegh ​(for companies R to Z)​ e: [email protected] p: 917-258-5174​

Also, be sure to follow Bar & Restaurant on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest industry news and trends.