How Thirsty’s Tara Fougner is Empowering Voices and Redefining the Bar Industry

Within the past month, Thirsty co-founder and CEO Tara Fougner was recognized for her work in the bar and beverage industry by being awarded not one, but two prestigious honors: the Tales of the Cocktail 2023 Catalyst award and the Bar World Top 100.

With over two decades of experience in the bar and beverage industry, Tara Fougner has emerged as a prominent figure and a force to be reckoned with. As the co-founder and CEO of Thirsty, Fougner has made significant contributions to the industry through her multifaceted expertise as a social media journalist, storyteller, advocate, speaker, and content creator. Based in Miami, Florida, and splitting her time with her native New York City, Fougner is driven by a strong desire to empower, encourage, and amplify historically excluded voices in the industry, all while proudly embracing her Puerto Rican heritage.

I have had the privilege of working together with Tara on thirsty since 2015, when it started as a cocktail site to help promote the drinks industry — something that was mostly being done within the chef space only at the time. I have watched as Tara has grown within Thirsty and found a strong voice, as well as within the industry at large where she is making big changes and helping to promote underserved voices. I couldn’t be more thrilled with these accolades and the recognition that she is getting for this important work.

Fougner’s journey towards becoming a trailblazer in the bar industry is marked by her relentless pursuit of knowledge and her commitment to self-empowerment. She holds certifications in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as Ethical Community Leadership. This dedication to continuous learning and personal growth enables her to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the industry and create meaningful change.

Fougner’s efforts to amplify underrepresented voices and promote diversity within the industry have not gone unnoticed. She has been recognized as one of the Top 100 in the Bar World by Drinks International for three consecutive years, a testament to her impact and influence. Additionally, she was honored on the inaugural Future 40 List, previously known as the 40 Under 40, which celebrates young leaders making significant contributions to the bar industry.

The industry at large has also recognized Fougner’s talents and expertise. Her collaboration with various brands, including partnerships with the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, James Beard Foundation, and World’s 50 Best, speaks volumes about her influence and the respect she commands within the industry.

At the heart of Fougner’s work is her platform, Thirsty, which she co-founded. Thirsty serves as a powerful vehicle for storytelling, education, and empowerment. Through Thirsty’s various platforms, Fougner leverages her extensive knowledge and network to highlight the diverse voices and experiences within the bar industry. By amplifying these narratives, she strives to create a more inclusive and equitable space for all.

Fougner’s commitment to her heritage and her role as an advocate for historically excluded voices is particularly commendable. She uses her platforms and influence to uplift the Latin Diaspora community in the United States, using storytelling as a means to bridge gaps and foster understanding. Her efforts reflect a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to ensure that the industry is representative of the rich tapestry of cultures that contribute to its vibrancy.

As Tara Fougner continues to make her mark on the industry, her passion, knowledge, and dedication will undoubtedly continue to shape the future of the bar and beverage world. Her unwavering commitment to empowering others and amplifying diverse voices has the power to create lasting change and redefine the industry for the better.

Among the 2023 honorees is the U.S. recipient, Tara Fougner, a standout figure in the bar world. This recognition not only celebrates Fougner’s contributions but also signifies a shift towards a more inclusive and diverse space within the industry.

The Catalyst Luncheon, presented by Diageo Bar Academy and 21Seeds Infused Tequila, replaces the former Dame Hall of Fame award, showcasing TOTCF’s commitment to creating an inclusive and intersectional platform that removes barriers based on gender or identity. By acknowledging leaders solely for their efforts in fostering a more inclusive drinks industry, the Catalyst Luncheon aims to empower and celebrate individuals who are making a significant impact.

Tara Fougner, chosen as the U.S. Honoree, has been a driving force in transforming the bartending industry. Her selection reflects her immense contributions and dedication to creating an inclusive space within the industry. Fougner’s journey to this accolade began with her outstanding achievements, innovative creations, and unwavering commitment to her craft.

The Catalyst Luncheon, held at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail, provides a platform for the honorees to share their vision and ideas for making the drinks industry more inclusive. Fougner, alongside the International Honoree Anistatia Miller, will be the featured speakers, offering insights and inspiring the community with their perspectives on fostering diversity and inclusivity.

The selection process for this year’s honorees involved a rigorous evaluation of over 100 qualified and open nominees by the Catalyst Luncheon Committee. The chosen recipients, Anistatia Miller and Tara Fougner, exemplify dynamic leadership and have made significant personal and professional contributions to the industry. Their relentless efforts in creating a more inclusive space have not gone unnoticed, and the Catalyst Luncheon serves as a testament to their impact.

By replacing the Dame Hall of Fame with the Catalyst Luncheon, TOTCF acknowledges the need for continued progress and representation within the cocktail community. This evolution aligns with TOTCF’s ongoing commitment to championing diversity and inclusivity, paving the way for a more comprehensive celebration of individuals who shape the industry.

The recognition of Tara Fougner as a Catalyst honoree highlights her exceptional achievements and the transformative impact she has had on the drinks world. Fougner’s dedication to her craft, combined with her tireless efforts to foster inclusivity, make her an exemplary role model.

As the Catalyst Luncheon unfolds and Tara Fougner takes the stage alongside other influential leaders, the industry eagerly awaits the insights and inspiration they will share. The ripple effect of their collective efforts promises to reshape the drinks industry, creating a more inclusive and diverse space for all to thrive.

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