By Natalie Prioleau
It’s post-tourism season in Charleston, but imagine touring the city this fall, indulging in its local cuisine, spirits and history with two charismatic, intelligent and beautiful black women as your guides! The Cocktail Bandits, Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves, are providing that experience for food and beverage enthusiasts everywhere with the release of their first book ‘Holy Spirits: Charleston Culture Through Cocktails’.
Johnny and Taneka have been leading ladies at trendsetting events in Greenville, Louisiana, Atlanta and beyond. They are also proud members of South Carolina’s Brewer’s Guild and have earned sponsorships from various hospitality and beverage companies around the state. ‘Holy Spirits’ is a concoction of the duo’s experiences and expertise within the food and beverage industry, which creates a unique overview of Charleston culture from their perspective. The book shows how Charleston’s billion dollar food and beverage industry along with its colonization in 1670, involvement in the slave trade, Gullah Geechee descendants and religious practices are all connected.
‘Holy Spirits’ also includes some of the best places to dine and entertain in Charleston, original Cocktail recipes and much more! Although it’s not due for release until November 22, the book can be pre-ordered right now for $34.95 at eveningpostbooks.com. ‘Holy Spirits’ promises to be an interesting read for history buffs, social drinkers, new drinkers and people of various backgrounds, which is one of the Cocktail Bandits’ goals for the book. Having worked tirelessly to solidify their brand within the industry, the bloggers hope that the release of ‘Holy Spirits’ will inspire more women and people of color to explore the business and take advantage of the market.
Reaves explains, “It took a while for people to get used to our presence. We started posting about these events to encourage more people of color to come out, and to get others used to people of color people being at these events. It’s a cultural thing for both sides. She continues, “We need more ownership in the food and beverage industry, we need more pride and more front of the house representation.” Caldwell expounds, “We say yes to any opportunity that will allow us to represent people of color in places where we were not included before.”
The Cocktail Bandits are committed to creating visibility and ownership in F&B among people of color; and the support of the Charleston community is essential to their mission.