SAFE Bar Network
Change Makers - A Black History Month Celebration
February is Black History Month, a time to honor activists, advocates, and change-makers of the past and celebrate the people who are making Black history every day. We're shining a spotlight on past and present change-makers in the food and beverage industry.
The Black Mixologists Club emerged in 1898 in Washington D.C. and played a significant role in shaping cocktail culture. D.C.’s segregation laws necessitated the creation of the Black-owned bars, restaurants, and clubs that employed black bartenders.
The interest in these black bartenders began spreading outside of their community until they gained regional and national notoriety. Their meticulously crafted cocktails were served to the likes of presidents, socialites, and other dignitaries.
One of the most influential bartenders was Tom Bullock, a St. Louis native who created one of the most well-known mint juleps of his time. His mint julep was so well known that Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal to finish his mint julep became the subject of an article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Bullock’s exceptional skill led him to be the first black bartender to publish a book of recipes in the United States, The Ideal Bartender. It was published in 1917 and is still revered as one of the seminal books in cocktail history. Historians cite this book as a mainstay because it accurately depicts pre-prohibition drink culture and provides recipes for cocktails considered classics to this day.
Brown a Balanced, a creation of Josh Davis, is an organization that celebrates Black bar & hospitality professionals and this month they are highlighting 28 Black Bartenders You Should Know on Instagram, @brownandbalanced
Portland Cocktail Week and Brown & Balanced put out a #blackhistorymonth required reading list. Josh Davis says, "You may not have time to get to all of these in February but use this month as a jumping-off point to dive into this thought-provoking material." View the reading list, here.
In 2016, Anthony and Janique Edwards created EatOkra as two Brooklyn transplants who didn’t have the means to cook or store food. Immersing themselves in their new community, the co-founders explored ways to support local Black businesses and champion the vibrant, cultural voices of their neighborhood, eventually planting the seed for EatOkra. You can find Black owned bars and restaurants in your community at eatokra.com/discover
These are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of stories of past and present Black change-makers waiting to be discovered, shared, and celebrated.
This article was adapted from a piece by Punch.
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