Celebrating Juneteenth! Celebrating Heritage Through Hospitality: Building Stronger Communities in the Cocktail Industry

Posted on: Jun. 17, 2024 | | By: Keyatta Mincey-Parker

By Keyatta Mincey-Parker

The hospitality industry is rich with history, traditions, and innovations, and plays a crucial role in weaving the social fabric of communities worldwide. This expands beyond culinary and service, it includes, beverages. It’s really beautiful to see how more and more cocktails, which have always been here, are finally being recognized. The cocktail industry stands out as a beacon of heritage, history, storytelling, creativity, and connection. But what about the faces and voices behind all of that, this community of people that wake up every day and choose to do this, the same community that really suffered during COVID-19, but because we are strong we were able to bend and pivot, but not really break. 

For me, the answer lies in the unique blend of history, passion, and people that define this industry. I love this industry. I have loved it when others have turned their backs on it and even when it didn’t love me. It’s like family, but it’s the family you get to choose, not the one you are born into. This chosen family has the power to uplift, inspire, and transform communities, making every effort to strengthen it deeply meaningful.

When you think of the word “Heritage” in the cocktail industry it is not just about the preservation of old recipes or traditional techniques. It’s about honoring the stories, cultures, and people behind each drink. These narratives foster a sense of belonging and pride, uniting individuals from diverse backgrounds on a global level. For instance, celebrating the heritage of rum involves acknowledging the complex history of the Caribbean and its people, their struggles, and triumphs. Similarly, exploring the roots of whiskey can take us through the rich landscapes of Ireland and Scotland, offering insights into their cultural evolution.

What inspires me most is how these stories can be harnessed to build stronger, more inclusive communities. By celebrating heritage, we create spaces where people feel seen, heard, and valued, fostering mutual respect and understanding. This cultural appreciation can be a powerful tool for community building, driving engagement and solidarity.

Supporting and strengthening the community within the hospitality industry requires both individual and collective efforts. Here are some actionable steps that can be taken:

1. Promote Inclusivity and Diversity: Creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome is paramount. This means actively working to break down the gatekeeping barriers and ensuring the proper  (aren’t you tired, of seeing the same old faces, rewording the same topics, I know I am ) representation of diverse voices. For instance, bars and restaurants can host events that celebrate different cultural heritages, providing a platform for marginalized communities to share their stories and traditions (stop having white people tell everybody’s story, they can speak for themselves).

2. Support Local Initiatives: Investing in local initiatives and people, such as community gardens or educational programs, can have a profound impact. A shining example of this is A Sip of Paradise Garden in Atlanta, GA. This nonprofit bartender and hospitality community garden not only provides a space for bartenders to grow their own ingredients but also fosters a sense of community and sustainability. A Sip of Paradise Garden provides educational, financial, job, and wellness resources to members of hospitality who wouldn’t normally have access. Supporting such initiatives can inspire others to take similar actions, creating a ripple effect of positive change.

3. Mentorship and Education: As someone who has pivoted from behind the bar to being a business owner and philanthropist, I realized sharing knowledge and skills through mentorship can empower the next generation of hospitality professionals, it is my duty (Lord knows in my old age I don’t want to be stuck drinking beer and wine because I can’t get a decent cocktail anywhere). Offering training and development opportunities, particularly for those from underrepresented groups, help build a more equitable industry. This also involves recognizing and celebrating the achievements of those who have contributed significantly to the industry’s heritage.

4. Sustainable Practices: Embracing sustainable practices is essential for the long-term health of our communities and the planet. This includes sourcing ingredients responsibly, minimizing waste, and supporting eco-friendly and local businesses. By prioritizing sustainability, the cocktail industry can set an example for other sectors and inspire broader community action.

Even though our industry has made strides in supporting and inspiring communities, it is important to acknowledge its past shortcomings, we have a lot of work to do. Historically, the industry has not always been inclusive or equitable, often sidelining certain groups and perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Recognizing these failures is the first step toward meaningful change.

Moving forward, the industry must commit to continuous improvement and accountability. This means not only addressing current disparities but also actively working to prevent future ones. By creating a culture of transparency and inclusivity, the drinks industry can truly become a force for good. At the end of the day, we all need each other, and no one can survive alone.

The hospitality industry must focus on connection and community, we have a unique opportunity and the ability to drive social change. Through the celebration of heritage, the promotion of inclusivity, and the support of local initiatives like A Sip of Paradise Garden, we can build stronger, more resilient communities. The inspiration to advance and strengthen our community in the hospitality industry comes from a deep love for this chosen family and a commitment to making it better for everyone.

As we navigate through 2024, let us remember that every action, no matter how small, contributes to a larger movement of positive change. By working together, we can ensure that the drinks industry continues to support, strengthen, and inspire communities for generations to come. Until we drink again, cheers!

Afternoon In The Garden

2 oz Amaro Georgiano 

3 oz Prosecco

 2oz Montaine Honeysuckle Sparkling Water

Build in a highball or your favorite wine glass. Fill the glass to the top with ice, add the amaro, prosecco, and then the sparkling water. Give it a gentle stir, and garnish with dehydrated citrus or fresh herbs. Cheers!

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