FUNKING UP The Southern Bar Scene

FUNKING UP The Southern Bar Scene

How Five African-American Women Are Shaking Up Atlanta’s Cocktail Scene.

Steeped in rich history and perched on the brink of a cocktail revolution, the Atlanta cocktail scene is seeing unprecedented growth, with restaurants and bars focused on crafts spirits reigning supreme. Now, the ATL market isn’t just paying attention to what’s going into their drinks—they’re also paying attention to the people making them.

Tiffanie Barriere, Kysha Cyrus, Tokiwa Sears, Sadiyyah Iddeen and Keyatta Mincey win competitions, create signature bar programs, teach their craft and take hospitality seriously, even if you order a vodka and cranberry. While their names may not strike a chord as much as some of the more well-known bar keeps that call Atlanta home, these five women of color have worked their way through the trenches, muscled through obstacles, and honed their craft to rise to the top in the bartending community.

We sat down with these women to hear their stories, their ideas about where the industry is headed next, and their thoughts on what it’s like being a black woman behind the stick in the South.

Tiffanie Barriere (One Flew South). All photos by Chris Watkins.

Tiffanie Barriere (One Flew South). All photos by Chris Watkins.

Tiffanie Barriere: Lead Bartender, One Flew South

Since its opening in 2008, Tiffanie Barriere has been “tender of the bar” at One Flew South inside the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International. It’s fitting: her life is a whirlwind of traveling, cocktail creating and preaching the gospel of spirits under the moniker of “The Drinking Coach.” When I first met Tiffanie, I could immediately tell that she absolutely loves what she does, and it’s evident in her approach to the service industry. “I love to drink and I love people. It was a winning connection for me. Being on my game with politeness, speed and cleanliness, that’s my style on and off the bar. One Flew South allows me to be good at what comes naturally to me,” says Barriere. A demeanor that’s given her quite the perspective in the industry.

Kysha Cyrus (Ration & Dram).

Kysha Cyrus (Ration & Dram).

Kysha Cyrus: Bar Manager, Ration & Dram

By the name of Kirkwood craft cocktail house Ration & Dram, you would most certainly expect the bar to be tended by some guy with a handlebar mustache in a vest with his sleeves rolled up. Then you’re welcomed by Kysha Cyrus and are a bit taken aback. The comic book buff and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fangirl is no stranger to operating off of preconceived notions to her cocktail acumen and moxie. It’s something she has met with grace and often times intensity in her many years in the Atlanta cocktail scene. “Working here fits my style as a bar keep – craft bartending. On some level I feel that term is over used, but this is a craft and most people tend to get that,” explains Cyrus. But it’s not without its challenges.

Tokiwa Sears (Holeman & Finch Public House).

Tokiwa Sears (Holeman & Finch Public House).

Tokiwa Sears: Assistant Lead Bar, Holeman and Finch Public House

From her towering stature, modelesque features and piercing gaze, Tokiwa Sears could easily be walking down someone’s runaway. But it’s our luck that she funnels her talent into making damn good cocktails with her lighthearted and quirky demeanor. With over 10 years experience in the industry that includes her most recent assistant lead post at cocktail flashpoint Holeman and Finch and former head honcho at Bourbon Bar, she’s seen Atlanta morph into a craft cocktail monolith in its own rite. “I love cocktails. I love creating them, I love learning about them, and I love making them,” says Sears.

Sadiyyah Iddeen (Escorpion).

Sadiyyah Iddeen (Escorpion).

Sadiyyah Iddeen: Head Bartender, Escorpion

Another industry vet with seven years in the bartending game, Sadiyyah Iddeen developed her mettle for the demanding cocktail life working at rave clubs to get a taste of the high-velocity service environment. And while in the beginning it served as a quick and easy way to make some fast cash, overcoming daily challenges to create new and exciting libations cemented her love for the craft. Now as the bar lead at Escorpion, a Midtown Atlanta tacos and tequila bar, she’s exposing guests to more than just margaritas and shots. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel all my life and have used those experiences as a vessel to expand my craft with an extremely exotic palate, and also develop new tantalizing mixes and concoctions,” explains Iddeen. An opportunity she hasn’t taken lightly.

To read more about this amazing women who FUNKING UP the southern bar scene please visit Tales Of The Cocktail.

Source: Tales Of The Cocktail

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