Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rant: People of Color & The Local Alcohol Industry

How many people of color work in the spirits/cocktail industry in the Boston area? How many people of color are involved in brewing and distilling? How many people of color enjoy drinking spirits and cocktails?

I don't have answers for the first two questions, though there appears to be only a tiny number of people of color involved in craft brewing. However, I suspect that the answer to the third question is significant, that many people of color enjoy a wide variety of spirits and cocktails. However, at this week's Thirst Boston, there seemed to be only a handful of people of color at the event. Why was that so?

From their website: "Thirst Boston is a gathering of bartenders, industry icons and beverage connoisseurs from Boston and beyond. Our goal is to educate attendees on the science, craft, and taste of all things related to the art of drink." At some of the seminars I attended, they asked the audience about their connections to the industry, and there were always a significant portion of enthusiasts, people who didn't work in the industry and just enjoyed alcoholic beverages. So it wasn't just a trade event and was inclusive of enthusiasts as well. There seemed to be a parity of male and female attendees, which was good to see. Overall, it was a fun, educational and interesting event, and I'll be writing more about it soon.

However, I wondered why there weren't more people of color.

Thirst Boston isn't unique in this regard. Last year's Boston Cocktail Summit had the same issue and at other, smaller spirits/cocktail events I have attended in the last couple years, there have also been a dearth of people of color. This is a bigger issue than a problem at any single event. It is an issue worthy of examination, analysis and discussion. Let us find ways to attract more people of color to these type of beverage events.

As a start, I would like to start a list of people in color who are involved in the local beverage industry. Back in 2008, I started a list of female wine writers and would like to do something similar for people of color in Massachusetts. To help me compile this list, please send me info on any people of color in Massachusetts who are bartenders, mixologists, distillers, brewers, distributors, beverage writers, brand ambassadors, or connected to the alcohol industry in any other way. Let's highlight these individuals and show the diversity that currently exists, and maybe motivate others to get involved as well.


Frederick Wright said...

No doubt that people of color are seriously under-represented in the local industry but there are shining exceptions. The lounge at Darryl's Kitchen has a vibrantly diverse atmosphere, all-inclusive, and all-welcoming. The cocktail lounge at the splashy Emerald in the Revere has a much more inclusive employment policy as well.

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Lisa Johnson said...

Great idea! Looking forward to seeing this list. I will spread some social media love on this!