Tales Of The Cocktail Foundation announces Mardi Gras Gives, a $62,500 relief initiative for New Orleans bartenders and barbacks who've been impacted by layoffs or furloughs during the past year. At least 50 percent of the funds will be allocated to eligible applicants who identify as women, members of the BIPOC community, and/or are over the age of 60.
For 300 years New Orleans has been a Mecca for decadence and outsiders. Its a unique city where music, art, history, food, and people of different ethnicities, nationalities, and sexual orientation mix like gumbo and mingle like mud and the Mississippi. LGBTQ+ have been there from the beginning and many of the city's bartenders represent minority groups (people of color, women, queers) who are particularly impacted by the pandemic. Even yours truly once slung drinks behind a bar in 'Nawlins.
Usually, at this time of year, a million tourists cram into the city's French Quarter to celebrate Mardi Gras, but this year instead of the excesses of Fat Tuesday, the city has faced the austerity of lent all year, and those in the service industry are baring the cost of closures.
“Mardi Gras is traditionally New Orleans’ largest revenue generating holiday annually,” Caroline Rosen, president of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation said in a statement to the press. “We know our bartending community is feeling the impact of the lost revenue this year as a result of the pandemic. We are incredibly grateful to have incredible partners who are stepping in to help offset these financial hardships for our industry. This sense of community and taking care of one another is emblematic of New Orleans and the embodiment of the Mardi Gras spirit.”
The grant initiative was created in partnership with Gambino's King Cake Rum Cream, Gambino's Bakery, Tequila Tromba USA, Republic National Distributing Company, Don Q Rum, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Rémy Cointreau, Edrington, and 375 Park Avenue Spirits.
The money will be distributed in 250 one-time $250 grants are available to bartenders or barbacks working in Orleans Parish at a standalone bar or nightclub (not within a restaurant or hotel) who can demonstrate loss of employment or furlough status between February 2020 and February 2021.
“Being born and raised in New Orleans, a sense of community and hospitality is instilled in all of us at an early age” said Tequila Tromba USA CEO, John Eason. “I grew up in the city’s bar scene. Working in it helped put me through college and gave me an industry education that would benefit my entire career. As I walked through the French Quarter Friday, the severity of COVID and the Mardi Gras bar closings hit me hard. Our bartenders and barbacks are hit the hardest. Losing the Mardi Gras season is a crippling blow to so many service people. $250 for 250 bartenders and barbacks doesn’t begin to cover the loss or address the situation, but it does help some folks in need buy important things like groceries or pay a light bill. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give something back and to the companies that came together to help.”
Applications are available online, but if you don't have access to the internet you can call 504.948.0511 and a Tales of the Cocktail Foundation representative will help you fill out the application form. Payments will be dispersed within a month of review of all application materials.