A little know secret about #Black Southern Belles is that we not only make cute cocktails but we also know how to drink them 😉 This dynamic duo of Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves, also known as Cocktail Bandits, are BSBs showing the liquor industry another perspective. On any given day, this pair can be found blogging about local Charleston bars or mixing up tasty new drinks for their next food or spirits festival. We love all that they stand for. They are making waves in an industry that is not often women friendly and we appreciate them for it. The next time you need some ideas on new drinks or bars to try, make sure to check them out and follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @cocktailbandits! Enjoy learning more about these Southern ladies and all of their fun journey and the results of taking that leap of faith.
Your Names: Johnny Caldwell & Taneka Reaves
Business Name: Cocktail Bandits
Hometown: Charleston, SC ; Mullins SC
What You Provide: A feminine urban perspective to the spirits industry. The curly ladies who talk cocktails daily educate and entertain 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.
Where are you based? Charleston, SC – the interwebs: www.cocktailbandits.com 😉
Why did you decide to start a business? We noticed that there were not enough women being noticed in the world of liquor and spirits. We created what we wanted to see in the market.
What is your most exciting so far in running your business? Creating over 300 cocktails for Atlanta Food and Wine festival. We had so much fun presenting our cocktails to a live audience.
How have your southern values influenced how you run your business? We noticed that most of business contacts appreciate our southern charm and politeness and that’s why we have such a diverse group of business affiliates.
Who are some of your business idols and why? Oprah Winfrey – She is the Ultimate BOSS. Kimora Lee Simmons – She has her own empire and continues to create great things.
Do you have any mentors? If so, what have they helped you with the most? Artist Jonathan Green is one of our mentors and he has helped us connect with people in the art world, we love incorporating cocktails with art.
What is your favorite thing about being southern? Our favorite thing about being southern is saying “Hello” to EVERYONE. No one is a stranger in the south.
Why did you start blogging? A few of our supporters from the very beginning, suggested that we start a blog so they could get more information about all of our urban adventures.
What is your favorite southern topic to read about and why? Our favorite southern topic to read about is the influence of Black culture in the South, and the nation. We are very important to the make up of this country, we love learning about our ancestors and the impact they have made here in the US.
What is your favorite lowcountry dish? Shrimp & Grits. A lot of restaurant try but few are successful in perfecting this classic Southern delight.
What is your favorite southern cocktail and why? Whiskey Sour. Brown water cocktails are the norm here in Charleston, and a Whiskey Sour is a balance of whiskey mixed with fresh sour mix. Its a simple, yet refreshing cocktail that is perfect for these warm summer evenings.
What are some of your favorite happy hour places in Charleston? Palace Hotel, Social Wine Bar, and the Thoroughbred Club in Charleston Place Hotel are only a few of MANY places we love to frequent during Happy Hour.
What is the most important thing you have done to build your business? We decided to step out on faith and create something completely different. The most important thing to do is try.
What are your favorite southern liquor brands? Firefly Vodka is an amazing brand with a uniquely southern product. The folks at Firefly revolutionized drinking laws in the state of South Carolina which paved the way for our booming beverage community; ultimately opening a lane for our business. Their Sweet Tea Vodka is the main spirit in our signature Charleston Place cocktail which also features Tippleman’s Lemon Oleo Saccharum Syrup, Blenheim Spicy Ginger Ale, Lemon juice and garnish with a hand-crafted sweetgrass Palmetto Rose.
What is your favorite non alcoholic drink? Water – the key to proper hydration and avoiding a nasty hangover is water. Water accompanies every cocktail!
If you could only have one drink for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Water, because we could just ferment fruit and make more booze. We will always need water to make the booze fit for human consumption.
What is your favorite item or piece of clothing to wear/use while doing business? Our “Bandit Frames” of course! We can’t leave home without them.0