Travel is more than physically moving from one place to another. It's being transported to another state of mind through an experience. That's one reason why eating and drinking can be such an important part of our trips. Cocktails are one of those things that can surprise and delight us in unsusual ways.
That's something that Black queer mixologist and spirits historian Tiffanie Barriere knows well. Rather than being tied to a single bar, the Texas native is an independent bartender, who creates cocktail menus for pop-up venues, brings a spirits influence to the farm to table culture, and hosts mixology lessons around the country. The latter endevaor has earned her the moniker “The Drinking Coach.”
Today, Barriere was honored for her work in the spirtis industry when she was inducted into the Tales of the Cocktail Dame Hall of Fame. Tales of the Cocktail, an organization dedicated to the support and education of those in the global drinks industry, first recognized her in 2015 when they named her among the top five Black female bartenders influencing the Atlanta drinking scene. Barriere spent seven years as beverage director at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's One Flew South, an establishment once named “Best Airport Bar in the World.”
The Dame Hall of Fame award was established in 2012 to celebrate the unique and lasting contributions of gender minorities to the global hospitality industry. Originally only granted to women, the honor recently became more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.
“Dame Hall of Fame has always been and continues to be a platform for recognizing the achievements of industry members who haven’t been celebrated in traditional awards programs,” notes its website. “In 2020, Dame Hall of Fame will celebrate the profound accomplishments of women, womxn, the trans community, male allies, and all who are working for the accessibility and intersectionality of the drinks industry.”
“The winners announced today represent such talent and hard work in our industry. Today we celebrate their excellence as well as the opportunities to spread their knowledge further, through mentorship, to more communities within the bar world,” noted Charlotte Voisey of the Dame Hall of Fame at the 2020 Tales of the Cocktail conference, which was held digitally for the first time.
This year’s conference theme was "catalyst" — a timely topic in a year where the spirits industry was dramatically impacted not only by the global pandemic, but also the overdo reckoning about racial equity. The spirits industry is particularly challenged today to compensate for generations of erasure and exploitation. Several of this year’s conference panels addressed those changes that African-Americans in the industry — like Barriere — have called for (which include decreasing discrimination, eliminating tokenism, and reinvestment into communities of color).
Barriere is also a spirits historian, and with particular interest in the long forgotten contributions of women and people of color in the development of cocktail culture and the spirits industry. (For example, it was a Black slave, Nearest Green, who taught Jack Daniels how to distill whiskey.)
Out since high school, Barriere says she is still often told she "doesn't look queer" and sometimes feels tokenized as a Black queer woman in the industry. This year marked the first Tales of the Cocktail conference to feature explicitly LGBTQ+ programming — including a panel titled “The Queer Handbook for The Recently Woke” — and the first to feature an all-Black panel.