This October, we’ve decided to replace our cocktail menu with spirits made from black owned producers. We want to make a statement about the history of the spirits industry and help you to sip consciously next time you visit our club.
The spirits industry has a sinister past. In 1817, more than 99 percent of Black people in America and the Caribbean were enslaved by a white person. The history of rum and bourbon is not well documented, and with many oral histories being lost, the true stats on the number of black distillers and scientists involved in the creation of spirits is not well known. Jack Daniel is one of the most dominant names in the industry, however the person perhaps most responsible for its success—was an employed free black man named Nathan “Nearest” Green, who taught Jack Daniel the art of whiskey distillation—a fact which went unacknowledged for more than 150 years. Cocktail historian David Wondrich has linked both haute cocktail culture and dive bar culture of the early 1900s to Black bartenders. Even these stories alone, show how we owe much of our drink culture to Black people and people of colour.
And today, in 2022, the industry is dominated by white owned businesses. We want this to be a part of the wider conversation, using the cocktails you sip as a conduit. There shouldn’t be a completely white hold on this industry. If we ever want to make a journey towards a post-racial society, then we are are going to have to be willing to have a conversation, which links the past to slavery and the establishment of white supremacy and systemic racism – but also about how this history makes black communities economic stakeholders in the future of the industry as well.
This is about the future. Support these black businesses who are bringing spirits, some which as westerners you will never have tried, Ogogoro is a distilled spirit originating from the oil or raffia palm tree which is part of the Nigerian bar culture, the sippable Vusa Vodka made from South African Sugar Cane, the almost sweet Bayab Gin made from the sap of the Baobab Tree found in many parts of Africa and the hard to categorise Aphro from the West-African Sub Region which blends herbs and spices in a tequila like way.
We hope you enjoy them as much we do.
Look out for specially mixed cocktails showcasing these spirits in the club. Check out the menu here.