Over the past few months, we have been highlighting a talented group of Black and Hispanic bartender who are shaking up culture in their cities and crafting legacies behind the bar: the Gentleman Jack “Culture Shakers.” This new class of bartenders from Atlanta, New York and New Jersey were celebrated for their creativity and ability to push boundaries and shake up the bar culture — and the program was led by the venerable Brian Greene, Region Multicultural Manager at Brown-Forman.
With fifteen years in the spirits industry, Atlanta-based Greene knew it was important to shine a light on these often underrepresented communities, with an eye toward crafting cocktails made with Gentleman Jack Tennessee whiskey.
We caught up with Greene about his inspiration for the program, creating equity in the industry and key learnings.
A conversation with Brian Greene, below:
What were your main goals with this season of Culture Shakers?
Culture Shakers is a national campaign championing the multicultural bartending community who are shaking up the industry. In this partnership with ThirstyMagazine, I wanted to localize and highlight 15 multicultural bartenders from three key markets. These folks have a strong desire to do or achieve greatness and leave a legacy while having the freedom to impact their community, work hard, and take the extra step just as Gentleman Jack does.
Why is it important for brands to do the work with creating programs that create more equitable opportunities in the U.S. bartending industry?
At Jack Daniel’s we are committed to making meaningful change within the spirits industry as a whole, including behind the bar. The Culture Shakers program will help lift underrepresented individuals by giving them exposure within a growing and dynamic industry with incredible growth potential.
Was there anything you learned or discovered as the Culture Shakers program came together that excited, encouraged or surprised you?
I was very impressed with how each bartender embraced this campaign by sharing it with friends and family. Being able to have their spotlight and be proud makes me happy. At times certain bartenders never have this opportunity due to being overlooked or not as in demand as others. I am excited to see more people of color having the chance to be recognized outside of their usual workspace. My goal is to allow these bartenders to expose what they love to do! It is incredible the creativity of each bartender creating these incredible Gentleman Jack cocktails.
What advice do you have for bartenders who aim to be named a Culture Shaker in the future?
Be creative, have a great work ethic, continue to educate yourself, and build your craft behind the bar. Don’t just come to work. Make a difference while working.
What is your favorite style of cocktail to enjoy Gentleman Jack in and if you had a signature Gentleman Jack cocktail, what would you name it?
I am a huge fan of Gentleman Jack & Ginger. But I do love a Gentleman’s Manhattan: 2 oz. of Gentleman Jack , .5 oz. sweet vermouth , .5 oz. dry vermouth and 2 dash of bitters.
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