Savor & Sip These 5 Spirits From the ReserveBar Spirited Change Collection

By Gabrielle Pharms | November 16, 2021

Each facet of the spirits industry has historically lacked significant ownership and representation of diverse communities, whether from a C-suite level to a master distiller or lead bartender. For example, consider this stat from an internal study conducted by online spirits retailer ReserveBar: less than five percent of the spirits industry represents BIPOC and female entrepreneurs. However, programs such as the ReserveBar’s Spirited Change Initiative strive to push the spirits industry forward to support marginalized groups.

The Spirited Change Initiative plans to commit more than $5 million to help propel minority and women-owned businesses ahead through 2024. Chief Marketing Officer of ReserveBar, Brian Mehta, tells EDITION, “Black, Brown, female, and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs have not successfully penetrated the multi-billion-dollar adult beverage industry. We are committed to unlocking opportunities and leveling the playing field for all.” Thus, the program’s mission is to give such companies the resources, tools, and insights they need to operate their businesses successfully. Furthermore, the initiative has gained traction from celebrity investors, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mary J. Blige, Kevin Durant, and Rich Kleiman.

Mehta adds, “Consumers now more than ever want transparency. They want to peel back the curtain and support brands that they know and relate to, so giving these businesses a voice and a platform through ReserveBar will help them grow, bridge relationships, and expand awareness.”

Here, we highlight five (among many) buzz-worthy Black-owned spirits companies that are part of the Spirited Change collection.

Highway Vodka

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Codi Fuller is one of the youngest Black female distillers in the country, crafting the hemp-based spirit Highway Vodka. The brand is based out of Houston and founded by her father, William Robbins III, and his friend Ben Williams. Highway is distilled six times, which results in the vodka’s exceptional viscosity and creamy mouthfeel without the harsh bite you taste in other vodkas. Highway Vodka is tasty chilled or served in your favorite spirit-forward cocktail. $25

Courage+Stone

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For years, Courage+Stone’s mastermind, actor/director Aisha Tyler developed her take on the Manhattan and Old Fashioned. Before you write this off as just another celebrity-endorsed brand, hear us out. Tyler came from a background in bartending during her university years and was a homebrewer for much of her 20s. Thus, she’s always had a penchant for craft beer and delicious cocktails. Courage+Stone was made out of necessity since Tyler didn’t find any ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages to please her palate. Subsequently, after creating the right recipe, finding solid partners, and designing the brand, she debuted Courage+Stone in early 2020.

Both the Classic Old Fashioned and the Classic Manhattan are double-gold award-winning— and for a good reason. The Classic Old Fashioned combines quality small-batch rye whiskey, hand-crafted at Brooklyn-based NY Distilling, with bitters and pure cane sugar for a spicy-sweet taste. The Classic Manhattan has a velvet mouthfeel with notes of rich chocolate and a hint of spice. This premium bar-quality RTD requires zero effort, just a big block of ice or served chilled. $96

Equiano Rum

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Named after Nigerian-born freedom fighter and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, the rum’s creators Aaisha Dadral and Ian Burrell ensured the blend would hold up to its eponym. The rum’s journey starts in Mauritius, where it matures for a minimum of ten years in ex-Cognac casks before being sent to Barbados, where it’s combined with rum aged in ex-bourbon barrels. Equiano Rum has committed to donating five percent of global company profits to ground-level freedom and equality projects annually. From the luxe bottle to the flavorful pour, Equiano Rum is a sipper best savored neat or chilled. $56

Revel Avila Añejo

Under the Revel Spirits umbrella, founded by Micah McFarlane and Jacqui Thompson, there are three core expressions: Blanco, reposado, and añejo. Revel Spirits aim to bolster the local community and environment where Avila was created in Mexico. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this is *not* tequila. Avila began as a local spirit, produced and enjoyed only in the Morelos region. Whereas tequila, by Mexican law, states that the spirit must be made with Blue Weber agave in Jalisco, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, or Michoacán.

The añejo is triple-distilled and crafted from 100 percent Blue Weber agave grown in the Morelos. It’s aged in new French oak barrels for two years, yielding a rich, flavorsome agave-forward spirit riddled with heat at the finish. $170

Birdie Brown Plain Hooch

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Enthralled by the Black history of the spirits industry, former NBA player and Indiana University legend Alan Henderson launched Henderson Spirits Group. The first spirit to be released was Birdie Brown Plain Hooch, which made its way to shelves in April 2020. Inspired by a Black woman homesteader of the 1800s, Birdie Brown is a Montana-made unaged whiskey crafted with wheat, oats, and barley. The toasted cereal palate and warm, lingering finish make for a delightful experience all on its own. However, it shines in a cocktail. So, swap your favorite bourbon for this hooch, and you have a new riff on the classic Old Fashioned. $55