Recently named two of Charleston's 50 Most Progressive in 2016, Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves are the dynamic duo known around the globe as the curly-haired Cocktail Bandits. The full-time Charleston Ambassadors met in their political science classes at the College of Charleston.  Now, with their booming hospitality business and self-titled Cocktail Bandits blog, they promote female empowerment through advocacy for the food and beverage community from a feminine, urban perspective.

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The curly ladies, who talk cocktails daily, educate and entertain their growing blog audience through their own original cocktail recipes, promoting the craftsmanship of other bar professionals, and sharing their experiences at foodie events all around the Holy City and beyond. The Bandits were recently featured on PBS's Moveable Feast with Chef Sean Brock and Chef BJ Dennis and in February's issue of Essence Magazine. Johnny and Taneka have also been featured on Sirius XM Radio online, Metro UK online, Charleston Wine & Food Festival, Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and several other regional publications.

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What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

Black history means several things to us. First it means empowerment. We have to be models and advocates for people of color. We have to remind one another of our excellence and not tear each other down.

Black history month is also about education. We need to learn more about our history of the past and we also need to know more about African-Americans creating history today. We inspire and aspire each other to do better so we must pass this information around as much as possible.

Black history month is also about embracing our blackness, our story and being proud of where we come from. If we were proud of our past, we can definitely build a better future. We were oppressed for a very long time, and still are the front and center of pop culture. We create trends, always have, and we will continue to do so. We are the only people who don't know our power. It's time to learn.

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Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Create This Year?

We are finding inspiration from everywhere! Our biggest outlet for it is social media. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have open doors to all types of creative minds. We have met artists, designers, musicians, restaurant owners, and awesome bartenders on the social sites. We see people that are aspiring to do everything under the sun. The more we search the more we want to create.

We also find inspiration in our beautiful city of Charleston. We don't see a lot of women, especially women of color, doing what we do in the food and beverage industry. We want to see more people of color in this field. To provide service for someone is an honor, but we only see our brown counterparts in the back in the kitchen. We need to see more upfront, serving and bartending in the industry.

 

 

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