Olaudah Equiano was an 18th century freedom-fighter, abolitionist, and author whose autobiography shaped history and whose spirit is honored with every bottle made of Equiano Rum. To celebrate Black history, Ian Burrell, the Global Rum Ambassador and Co-Founder of Equiano Rum is partnering with four Black bartenders to showcase cocktails using Equiano Rum, Tom Bullock’s “The Ideal Bartender” book and Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography. The bartenders were invited to attend a virtual masterclass with Ian to learn about the spirit, how to use it and why it’s unique.
Equiano then challenged each bartender to select a recipe from The Ideal Bartender, pick an inspirational figure in black history and create an Equiano version of their Tom Bullock cocktail, telling the story of why they picked that person. The cocktail needed to be mindful of Equiano and its tasting notes, the significance of Tom Bullock as well as the inspirational figure they’re spotlighting.
In 1917, Tom Bullock was the first African American bartender to write and publish a cocktail book which has since been republished in an exact copy of its original form, showcasing favorite pre-Prohibition cocktails with an introduction penned by Ian Burrell. The original foreword of The Ideal Bartender was written by George Herbert Walker, George W Bush’s great grandfather – in those days, a white man was needed to endorse a black writer. Equiano will continue highlighting people like Olaudah who challenged the narrative and the brand is committed to bettering the bartending industry of tomorrow and the black bartenders who help craft it.
Additionally, Equiano Rum started the Equiano Rum. Co Foundation to help, aid, share, and create awareness of various injustices around the world that Equiano, as a brand, can shed light on. During Equiano Rum’s inception in 2018, Co-Founders Oli Bartlam, Aaisha Dadral, Ian Burrell, and Amanda Kakembo pledged to donate five percent of global company profits to ground level freedom and equality projects, annually. In addition, two dollars from each bottle sold directly through the website are automatically added to the grant-giving fund. Equiano Rum Co. Foundation’s first ever 2021 grant recipient is Anti-Slavery International, an organization that works to eliminate all forms of modern slavery throughout the world.
Bartender: Sargent Black, Washington DC
Cocktail Name: ‘What’s The Deal?’
Inspired by: Louis Deal
Recipe: 2 Drops of Fire Water
Bar Spoon of Sfumato Amaro
.25oz Lemon Juice
.75oz Hibiscus Syrup
2oz Equiano Rum
Build in Highball glass over pebbled ice. Top with Soda.
Garnish with Fruits & smoked cinnamon
Here’s why: “Fashioned after the ‘Bliz’s Royal Rickey,’ created by the first published black bartender, Tom Bullock. This cocktail was inspired by the experience of 1890s black bartender, Louis Deal. Living in a “separate, but equal,” Cincinnati, Deal was praised for his work ethic and hospitality, yet faced a segregated bar community with patrons threatening to boycott daily until he was removed from the bar. Through the fire and the smoke, diversity and inclusion can only take place when we know what the “Deal” is.”
Bartender: Thandi Walton, Atlanta
Cocktail Name: ‘Soweto Blues’
Inspired by: Zenzile Miriam Makeba AKA Mama Africa
Recipe: 1 1/2 oz Equiano Rum
3/4 oz Aperol
1 oz Mandarin orange juice (fresh)
1 oz Grapefruit Juice (fresh)
1/2 oz Champagne syrup
1 oz soda/sparkling water
10 dashes of Angostura Atop
Shake all ingredients except for soda water and Angostura bitters.
Strain into an iced white wine glass add soda/sparkling water stir/
swivel with bar spoon. Add dashes of Angostura atop
Garnish with dehydrated blood orange slice and edible flower.
Here’s why: “Miriam Makeba is my inspiration because while she was exiled from South Africa in the late 50s, she continued to evolve and never forgot her roots. She will always be an image of strength, beauty and courage to me.”
Bartender: Kim Hunter, Texas
Cocktail Name: ‘Miss Kitt’
Inspired by: Eartha Kitt
Recipe: 1.75 oz Equiano Rum
1 oz Yellow Chartreuse
.25 oz Agave Syrup
.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
In a shaker, muddle 4 of the raspberries with the lemon juice. Add in
the agave syrup, yellow chartreuse & Equiano rum. Add ice and
shake vigorously for about 10 seconds, or until the shaker is very
cold. Double strain the cocktail into a coupe glass. Garnish with the
remaining raspberries & edible rose petals on a garnish stick. Cheers!
Here’s why: “This cocktail was inspired by the talented Eartha Kitt because she was much more than what we saw on the surface. Much like Eartha, my cocktail has layers that are unique, and it just works! Eartha showed us how delicate she could be while serenading the world with “Santa Baby”, just like the sweet and delicate raspberry. On the flip side, Ms. Kitt was fierce, strong, and quick to speak her mind on social and racial issues. She was not to be played with! Similarly, to Equiano rum and the spiced herbaceousness that yellow chartreuse lends. Just like Eartha, this cocktail will take your taste buds on a journey around the world!”
Bartender: J’Nai Angelle Williams, New Orleans
Cocktail Name: ‘Carlotta Highball’
Inspired by: La Negra Carlota
Recipe: 1.5 oz. Equiano rum
1 oz. muscat wine
3/4 oz. pear juice
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 dash rhubarb bitters
Add all ingredients except soda to a highball glass. Add ice and stir to mix.
Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with sage.
Here’s why: “La Negra Carlota was an enslaved Yoruba woman in Cuba. She led a slave rebellion at the Triunvirato plantation, where she burned down the slave master’s plantation and sugar mill. She helped spread the rebellion to other
nearby plantations, which amounted to a total of 5 by the end of the revolt. The planning and execution of slave revolts was seen as highly masculine and too violent for a woman to plan, making her an anomaly.”
“This cocktail is based after the Admiral Schley Highball, which has a whiskey base. I chose Carlota for this cocktail to challenge the masculine nature of the original cocktail name, asserting that gender plays no role in battle planning abilities, similar to how flavors are not limited to any cocktail style.”
“I took this whiskey highball and made it lighter and more aromatic by adding rum, muscat wine, and bright fruit notes.”
“Admiral Schley was an admiral in the US Navy and the hero of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish American War. I thought it apt that Admiral Schley’s life is so heavily documented – and the recount of his historic battle is incredibly detailed – while little is known about the details of Carlota’s life, and the description of the slave rebellion she spearheaded is full of most generalizations. This goes to show that history is written by the victors and people of power.”