Speaking up and representing through a cocktail...
Poco Wine & Spirits is one of the few Black-owned businesses on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington. Owned by Rashida Burnham, it was a quiet transition when she purchased the bar amid the gentrification, what do they feature? Wine and whiskey, what could be better?
“It's common for people of color to be underrepresented in just about every industry. And those that do successfully break into an industry are often overlooked.”
I had the opportunity to speak to Rashida owber of Poco Wine & Spirits and Poco's GM Tamy about their current situation and the inspiration behind their new Uncle Nearest feature cocktail Black Power - Peach Sour.
Recently Tamy Liles contacted me to discuss a new cocktail at Poco that would be available To-Go and for dine in. When I saw the name I just loved it instantly and felt really proud that Poco one of our whiskey family accounts. So I asked Tammy what the ingredients where and the inspiration was behind the cocktail.
This cocktail is made with Uncle Nearest 1884 small batch whiskey, Giffard's Peach Liqueur, lemon juice and honey. Sounds delicious! It's an easy low component cocktail to offer to go in the beautifully branded Uncle Nearest cocktail pouches and enjoy at home.
And of course the inspiration behind the cocktail from, this is what Tamy had to say; "In my heart, summertime is for peach cobbler and lemonade sweetened with honey. Growing up Whiskey with hot water, honey and lemon juice were cures for all manner of ails."
"So here we sit, able to showcase the first Black owned whiskey distillery with a history filled with richness and pride and love and family, during an important moment and movement. So keep it simple, bring some summer love and offer a little cure for what ails and make sure Uncle Nearest is SEEN, that his descendants are SEEN, that this movement is SEEN. And make it delicious so they don’t forget."
When I asked Rashida about the importance of serving and showcasing Black owned spirits at Poco she said; "It's common for people of color to be underrepresented in just about every industry. And those that do successfully break into an industry are often overlooked. As a black woman in the hospitality industry with the ability to decide which companies I partner with and showcase, I take great pride in giving the underrepresented and overlooked the platform to be seen and celebrated. I take pride in the fact that we carry black owned spirits, wines, and beers at Poco. My mission is to have customers discover something new and hopefully fall in love with it. What better way to discover black owned spirits, wines, and beers, which are like hidden gems that are not common menu items at restaurants and bars, than to serve it and showcase it at Poco."
Tamy went on to say, "When Rashida first hired me she told me that there was a wine rep that was less than kind when she said she wanted to showcase Black and woman owned wines. The fact that this was a challenge put me on a mission. 2 months later we hosted our first Black owned wine tasting, the month after that we showcased Women in Wine."
I asked them how they have been doing since Covid began and through the period of protests in specifically Capitol Hill in Seattle. Tamy and Rashida both talked about the struggles they have been facing, " We are pushing online orders and doing what’s necessary to keep ourselves and our friends healthy. We hand out masks if someone comes in without, make sure everyone is distanced and following protocol," said Tamy.
Rashida talked about having to pivot and rethink their business plan, "Like many other businesses, Poco has taken a hit over the last several months. We had to shut down for a few months, but were able to reopen in June. We've had to rethink our business model in order to keep our staff and customers safe. We've added online ordering and expanded our menu to include to-go cocktails, wine, and food. The Black Lives Matter Movement and protests in Seattle has exposed and highlighted the systematic oppression that Black people face. There's definitely a greater sense of community and support for local, Black owned businesses like Poco."
I am grateful for women like this and cocktails such as the Black Power - Whiskey Sour. If you're in the Seattle area please visit Poco Wine & Spirits. It's important now more than ever to support local, buy independent and know who is behind the brands you choose to serve and enjoy.
Poco can be found at: 1408 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122