When I was approached by Campari America to help produce their second annual Sprited Pride series highlighting LGBTQ bartenders and players in the drinks game, I was pleased as punch to jump on board. My thinking was that it was a great idea to celebrate these individuals who inhabit a particular spot on the cultural ven diagram where the the cocktail community and the LGBTQ community overlap. And I think of encouragement and celebration as always being good things. But I didn't think of this as imperative or urgent or even necessary, per se. I've always found the cocktail culture to be refreshingly un-homophobic, which is probably subconsciously one of the reasons I gravitated to this world. So I inhabit not only this accepting culture, but in my itinerant vagabond's existence I spend time primarily in New York City, Key West, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon --themselves bubbles of inclusiveness. I've been lulled into complacency, a bit, about acceptance and the need for visibility.
But the events of this past Sunday have been a brutal reminder of how the rest of the world isn't so enlightened and accepting as the happy little privilged bubble I find myself in so much of the time. And the imperative to assert ourselves, to be unafraid and in fact be joyous and celebratory and and engaged with one another is ever more crucial, and fostering community and visibility is essential. And cocktails and bars are a big part of fostering connections and community. So it's with renewed vigor that we continue our Spirited Pride celebration here at Embury Cocktails for the rest of June, which is Pride month. And we'll be shining a spotlight on these talented and passionate folk with just a little more intensity and urgency.
And we're beginning with this kicky video fro m Number One Negroni Fan Alex Negranza of Houston's Anvil Bar & Refuge. Alex presents one of the first cocktails he discovered (when he may or may not have been technically underage), the Italian Greyhound, which is elegant in its simplicity, wonderfully refreshing, and is a surprisingly complex summer sipper. I've photographed the cocktail in front of some books from the collection of Hanns Ebensten and Brian Kenny, a couple who were together for 41 years and who lived across the street from my family in Key West and who became friends with all of us. They were sophisticated gentlemen of the world who met in Hyde Park in 1961, with the then classic coded pick up line, “Do you enjoy art?” The pickup turned into an amazing partnership that lasted the rest of their lives. Imagine if they had been afraid to talk to approach one another. Let's keep being more visible, and open to connection, even in the face of darkness. As the mighty RuPaul says, “Love is the first step.”