Meet the shakers - Catching up with cocktail trailblazer Tiffanie Barriere
World Best Bar
Jun 28, 2021
26 November 2020
Welcome to “Meet the shakers”, our new interview series spotlighting the movers and shakers who help make the bar world a more inclusive space for all. Today we ask a few questions to “The Drinking Coach” Tiffanie Barriere, an independent bartender and consultant, influencer, and spirits historian who has earned some of the drinks industry’s highest accolades.
A Tastemakers of the South award winner, member of the Tales of the Cocktail Grants Committee, the James Beard Advisory Board, and the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Tiffanie Barriere also had a 7-year tenure as beverage director of Atlanta’s One Flew South, once recognized as “Best Airport Bar in the World”.
Today, rather than tying her name to only one establishment, the Louisiana-Texas native works independently, crafting creative cocktail menus for pop-ups and consultancy clients, hosting mixology classes around the U.S., and connecting the world of spirits to farm to table culture. Barriere and her cocktails have been featured in innumerable leading publications, and she counts some of the best bartenders and mixologists in the world as her mentees.
In September 2020, Tiffanie Barriere made her entry in the Tales of the Cocktail Dame Hall of Fame, established in 2012 to honor the unique and lasting contributions of gender minorities to the global drinks industry. Under the theme “catalyst”, fitting for a year when long-standing injustices had so urgently come to the forefront, several of the conference panels addressed some of the changes that African-Americans in the industry have been vocal about, including decreasing discrimination, eliminating tokenism, and reinvesting into communities of color. It was also the first Tales of the Cocktail conference featuring explicitly LGBTQ+ programming as well as an all-Black panel.
Hello Tiffanie and thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Such an impressive resume. Could you start by telling us a bit about your inspirations and creative process?
The inspirations come from researching black history, seasonal ingredients, or even a crave I may have for a cocktail. It’s so important to share a story with a cocktail (I think it makes it taste better), and when that story has volume or history to it, each sip gives perspective and value.
Congratulations on your admission to the Tales of the Cocktail Dame Hall of Fame. How does this latest award in a long stream of recognitions make you feel?
Thank you! It was a great recognition, however it happened during the pandemic which felt lonely. I received the award alone in my home and virtually. My best friend Keyatta Mincey Parker came over to sip champagne with me to make it feel like a celebration, however the the Breonna Taylor murder trial happened within the same 24 hours. It was a victory and loss in the same week.
Per Tales of the Cocktail, “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. 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.”. Do you feel such initiatives are helping move things in the right direction at an industry level? What more do you think can and should be done?
It’s very hard to gauge the future at this moment. Making attempts to transition along with the world’s transitions which are fragile and microscopic. I am happy to see attempts for change and also paying attention to true follow ups, education and action.
As a black, queer female mixologist, what were some of the biggest challenges you’ve personally faced along the way?
The challenge is always being recognized as the personality and never being recognized for the efforts, education, loyalty, ethics and consistency. I have not been offered promotions for the work done. I have always been recognized for my personality and availability. I have always loved what I do for multiple reasons and I haven’t been sure that the management saw me for that vs my availability or ability to handle shifts.
In turn, how has the status you’ve achieved as an industry leader allowed you to help shake things up?
I LOVE sharing black history. American black history is covered in slavery, and if we keep hiding the fact that black people were slaves during the entire time this country was built and hospitality, culinary, architecture and music were created, we as a black community will not grow. We must share the truth of our past and how we were treated. When we share our hurt, history, growth and excellence despite the sad suppressed history, there is healing and strength that comes through the truth, even when it’s dark. We can be our ancestors’ visions and our families’ broken habitual thoughts by just speaking up, sharing our narrative and not tolerating the things that have happened to us in the past.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Actually, like people – don’t do this for money, there is none in the beginning.
Write down flavors by seasons. It will help with seasonal cocktails. Buy a flavor bible.
From an inclusivity standpoint, what are the things aspiring bar owners need to pay special attention to when launching their business today?
Pay attention to personality and background. Personality and background/culture go a long way in hospitality allowing relatable connections to all guests you are attempting to attract.
We can all agree to say this past year has been all sorts of crazy. In what ways have you and your work been impacted by the pandemic and general climate of unrest in the U.S.?
I have been blessed to have loyalty and a thirsty networking crowd. Virtual cocktail/mocktail classes took off for me offering creativity at home, DIY, and fresh ingredients to be made, understood and consumed.
Can you tell us of any groups or organizations supporting small businesses and service workers you’d like our readers to know about?
To finish things off in high spirits, could you give us your favorite cocktail recipe of the moment?
I am a sucker for Paloma. Blanco tequila, Squirt, grapefruit and lime squeeze and a pinch of salt.
And last but not least, what exciting new projects do you have in the works?
Collaboration with the amazing Toni Tipton Martin on her next book, which is focused on African and black bartenders who have shaped the cocktail scene.
Thank you so much for your answers Tiffanie, speak to you soon!
To find out more about Tiffanie’s work: