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 HIGHLIGHTS:

• Last February we held our first fundraising Gala, attendees from across the industry, representing nearly a dozen countries, came to celebrate our cause. During this celebration Bacardi Legacy’s National Finalist, French Marshall, from D.C. was on hand to serve his award winning cocktail. Thank you to everyone who attended!

• Sponsored by Grey Goose, we created a partnership and launched The Express Yourself Cocktail Challenge. It celebrated Chicago bartenders in underrepresented areas while providing a 6-part educational program where they learned advanced bartending skills, social media and public relations best practices, and interview tips. Four finalists were chosen and awarded $1,000 each, and the winner, CAS member Samantha Spencer, won a free trip to France! Upon conclusion of Chicago’s launch, the program expanded to Atlanta, Houston, and D.C.

• In March 2018, we kicked off Women’s History Month featuring two specialty cocktails at MONEYGUN for their #MonthlyGun collaboration.

• In April 2018, two CAS members made it to the finals of the Diageo Tin on Tin Cocktail Classic and were challenged to create four-drink cocktail menus and present to an esteemed panel of judges.

• In May 2018, the president and founder of CAS hosted a dinner, CELEBRATING CULTURAL ARCHITECTS, as a part of the Chicago Style Dinner Series. Cultural architects are the creative leaders of the future. The dinner discussion centered around the idea that “we are the future,” and participants shared the oftentimes unconventional processes taken to brand themselves and their businesses. “Cultural architects are people who are able to change the mindset of others,” explains CAS Founder, Alexis Brown. “They are able to break barriers; they have vision. They are self-confident and able to transfer self-confidence to other players. As leaders we have a duty and responsibility to lay foundation for future generations. The arts and culture sector is continually developing and changing.”

• In June 2018, we were officially awarded 501(c)(3), federal tax-exemption status.

• In July 2018, CAS headed to New Orleans to showcase our talent at the Tales of The Cocktail Conference. We were recipients of the inaugural TOTC Grant and awarded $20,000. During the conference, we hosted and staffed the first ever R(e)Charge Lounge at historic Arnaud’s Restaurant in collaboration with Beam Suntory. Aside from providing a one stop refresher space packed with charging stations (for phones, minds, and bodies), we fostered a positive social impact through hosting our cultivated Jeffersonian-style dinner experience with the Idea to Institution Spirited Dinner and Flor de Caña. We also collaborated with Victory Nola and partner with Bacardi to highlight members of Causing A Stir during the Celebration of Color.

• In August 2018, CAS awarded Chicago member Mark Coulter a scholarship to attend Bar Methods in New York. Bar Methods’ classes focus on the fundamental skills needed to be successful behind a cocktail bar. Participants learn not only how to perform these techniques properly, but also why and when to apply them and what each technique contributes to the overall product. This course has proven to elevate skills, confidence and creativity behind the bar.

• In October 2018, CAS was invited to present a seminar at Portland Cocktail Week. The PDXCW programming allowed us to speak on our diversity and inclusion strategies and practices. The discussion addressed issues that plague the industry and focused on how imperative it is to combat implicit biases in order to cultivate true inclusivity.

• In November 2018, CAS met with The Ghana Bartender’s Guild to speak with women servers, bartenders, and mobile bar owners. The discussion centered around the lack of equal opportunities and discrimination happening in the hospitality industry throughout the country. We were able to provide insight and support to these women, helping change the cultural narrative. During the 5th annual Lagos Cocktail Week, CAS spoke on the importance of branding and how to use social media as a tool to create visibility.

• In February 2019, CAS’s 2nd Annual Fundraising Gala raised nearly $20k and highlighted members from Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit who created speciality cocktails inspired by the theme #InvestingInYourself. Over 10 brands participated in the gala and pre-gala activations with Tito’s and Beam Suntory Brands (Effen, Courvoisier and Makers Mark) sponsoring the Gala. During the Gala each sponsor was paired with a local artist to bring the #InvestingInYourself theme to life through a live painting. The paintings were auctioned during the Gala.

• Also in February 2019, CAS collaborated with Hennessy & Liquor.com on the Equal Parts Initiative and launched our first set of trainings.

• Again in February 2019, Beam Suntory & Courvoisier recognized our founder, Alexis Brown, as an honoree at their Black History Month Special alongside James Beard Nominated Chef Brian Jupiter and the owner/operators of Midway Wholesalers, Everett and Tim Rand.

• To celebrate Women’s History Month, CAS partnered with The Virgin Hotel in Chicago for a month long highlight of CAS members. Week to week a CAS mentor and men-tee collaborated on a specialty cocktail and tested their skills during a happy hour hosted by Hennessy and Chandon.

• In March 2019, 12 finalists from the Grey Goose Express Your Cocktail Challenge spanning from Atlanta, Houston, and D.C met in Miami at the Bacardi, USA headquarters for the Winner’s Experience. There they were able to learn advanced bar techniques, media and press training, obtain professional head-shots and mixology video, and gain invaluable mentorship from Bacardi mentors.

• In April 2019, we highlighted Keith Anderson from Brown-Forman who made history by becoming the first African American artist to have his work featured on a special limited edition Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottle.

• In May 2019, after working with outside strategy consultants, we will be rolling out a new Board of Directors, membership, partnership and sponsorship programs, and curated hospitality curriculums and professional development classes this upcoming June. After nearly two years of hypothesis testing, it's time for CAS to scale!