Brown & Balanced Season 2 – Looking Back With Creator Josh Davis

The industry needs more platforms that recognize, honor and create opportunities for communities that have been historically excluded; one of the most beloved and trusted such platforms is Brown & Balanced founded by Josh Davis. After years of holding live events around the U.S. celebrating the Black bartender community, Brown & Balanced transformed into an online show format due to pandemic lockdowns. With over 15 years of bartending experience, Josh Davis took on a new challenge as host and interviewer of Brown & Balanced LIVE going one on one with Black bartenders in a show he describes as, “think In Living Color and Mad TV meets Charlamagne Tha God meets Black and Brown Bartenders.” With two seasons and a Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award nomination, we spoke to Davis about his experience thus far as we look back on Season 2 of Brown & Balanced.

Brown & Balanced Season 2 – Looking Back with Josh Davis

© Lush Life Productions | Blake Jones

Looking back at 2021 and B&B Season 2, there were so many incredible moments that connected with your audience. How did you go about picking your favorite moments out of such a stacked season?

Picking the moments this year was very hard. We had SO MANY that didn’t make the top 10, from so many dope individuals. I literally went back and watched every episode (over 14 hours of footage) and even then it was harder. But I finally narrowed it down to the top 10 and the reasons those made it, was because of the profound message that each shared. From Tiffanie Barriere sharing her knowledge, to Jackie Summers literally taking us to church, Myself and Gene Samuel breaking stereotypes and two Black men showing love for each other out loud for people to see, to the #1 moment of me being completely transparent about my Father’s death. Season 2 brought the fire all around.

Brown + Balanced was nominated for a Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award in 2021, what did that mean to you?

I’m gonna be completely transparent here. Getting the nomination felt good. You know everybody loves getting the respect and adulation from their peers. It almost brought me to tears. I have been in this game for a long time, and have grinded and been saying the same things I always have, and never got those flowers for the work I did/do. I knew me getting the nomination was going to help the next generation of bartenders and would open doors and opportunities for others. BUT I knew I wasn’t going to win. I know that everyone says “oh the nomination is a win” and yeah all that sounds good, but I’m competitive. This is a competitive industry, and I feel like in the category we were in, and this is my opinion, NO ONE else nominated is affecting and changing the community like we are. I feel like some of the “gatekeepers” of our industry aren’t really ready for that type of change. To have outspoken Black professionals who call people out on their sh*t, to have a stage where you never know what they are going to say or do.  Brown & Balanced, Josh Davis, is the PEOPLE’S CHAMP, and that means more to me than winning a plate, and being a small piece on a big table. We are going to continue to build OUR OWN tables, make people have uncomfortable conversations, and uplift each other.

If you could have any three non-industry guests (dead, alive or fictional) on Brown + Balanced, who would they be?

That’s an easy question. My Dad, George Davis. My uncle, Herbert Profit. And a personal hero of mine Huey P. Newton. My dad would tell all about how I was when I was younger. My Uncle would talk about my medium level juvenile delinquent adolescent years. And I would just want to listen to Huey about forming the Black Panthers, and what life was like as a young Black man in the 60s/70s.

What have you learned about yourself through the experience of hosting Brown + Balanced shows?

Through hosting Brown and Balanced I’ve learned a few different things. I learned ALOT more about some people I considered friends. My friends and peers are dope individuals who aren’t just talented hospitality professionals, but talented people who have an array of skills to offer the world. I also found out I’m a pretty good host. Which has prompted me to start a podcast. Brown And Balanced presents “Bottoms Up” with Mr.Mixologist. It will be a more raw and uncut version of Brown and Balanced live, that really digs deep into what Black Bartenders face on the come up in our industry. Got some dope guests lined up, so it’s gonna be good! Episodes coming really soon.

How do you feel about representation of the Black bar & beverage community across industry spaces, opportunities & accolades in 2021?

I feel like with the way the world has gone in the last couple years, with the pandemic and the social issues with so many unarmed Black Men and Women being violated and killed by the police, Black hospitality professionals have been very vocal and active in speaking how they feel, and implementing how they feel into their social media and bar programs. As far as accolades and taking space, I have seen an uptick in more Black/Brown faces being present, but it’s still not a big enough spread. There have been brands and leaders who have definitely put their money where their mouth is and been very supportive and not performative (much love personally to Campari for standing by B&B), but it’s still not enough. The hospitality industry was built on the back of Black people. That’s not an opinion that is fact. When we were forced to do it, Black people were the Chefs, servers, bartenders, hell more than likely the distillers( need to do more research on that, but shout out to Nathan “Nearest” Green. But there has to be more). I want to see us continue to create platforms like Chocolate City’s Best, Turning Tables NOLA, and don’t ask for accolades, let’s CREATE OUR OWN!!!

What advice would you give to anyone from historically excluded communities who wants to create their own platform, business or projects to serve their people?

Just DO IT!!! The best piece of advice I can give is something I said on the 2017 Bar institute tour in Charleston. “With anything you do, creating platforms, social media, going to bar related events, BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF. Because if you are false flagging, and not really walking it like you talk it, you will get exposed very quickly.”

What can we expect from B+B in 2022?

2022 will be the year we get back to the vibes. We finally will have Live, In Person events( Safely of course,staying masked up), Introducing a bunch of new bartenders on the scene, expanding the merch line, and just all in all continuing to grow the brand. When I started this back in 2017, I never saw all the things we have done so far happening. So the last 4 almost 5 years have truly been a blessing, and I just want to continue to collaborate and push the next generations as far as we can.

Any final words of thanks, gratitude, reflection or hype after closing out 2021 and looking ahead at 2022?

To close this out, I definitely reflect back to when I was growing up. My dad, My uncles, and a few big homies from my neighborhood poured so many things into me that I apply to my adult life, and I instill into my sons, I just want all of them to know I made it. I did it my way, my rules, I didn’t bend or break. I never conformed to being the “Safe Black Dude”. I walk in my truth and at the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror each and everyday, and go back to my old hood, and still respect myself and have the respect of others.

You can catch all the Brown & Balanced episodes on Portland Cocktail Week’s Facebook page.  Stay update on Brown & Balanced by  following @brownandbalanced on Instagram and make sure follow @camparicommunity, then click the link in their bio to sign up on the Campari Mailing list 

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