New Charlotte Black-Owned Cocktail Space Will Deliver Elevated Beverage Experience
You can take the girl out of Cali, but you can’t take the Cali out of the girl. When Oakland native Tamu Curtis relocated to Charlotte, she wanted to retain a sliver of her social life back in the City of Angels.
“I’ve always been a food and cocktail kind of girl,” she shared with Travel Noire. “That’s what we did in LA; great dinners, great drinks all night long. I moved here, and it was a different culture. It was really my discovering of what this city had to offer, and this region had to offer, and then sharing it with other people.”
Armed with a degree from UCLA and with years of experience promoting some of the world’s most recognizable brands, she put her expertise in experiential marketing into creating a curated cocktail tour. Liberate Your Palate took off on social media and Curtis found herself immersed in the world of hospitality. Admittedly, she knew nothing about actually making cocktails — “I didn’t know the difference between cognac and whiskey” — but an invitation to a Hendrick’s Gin beverage event would change that.
“It was really hands-on,” Curtis recalled. “We learned how to make three different cocktails. I learned all about gin and how it’s distilled. Gin was something that I always shied away from since college. I just have bad memories. But to learn about the spirit itself, the nuances of it, and how to actually make a cocktail with it that wasn’t just gin and orange juice was really a lot of fun for me.”
It occurred to her that her fellow craft cocktail enthusiasts would also enjoy a similar experience. Curtis started hosting cocktail classes in 2016, bringing in Charlotte-areabartenders to lead the instruction. The first class sold out. Since then, the classes have continued to thrive and in 2018 Curtis started teaching regularly.
Then came the pandemic which turned several businesses on their heads. But rather than fold, Curtis flourished in the virtual space and reached a global audience. But she started thinking ahead to a post-COVID reality.
“I was always doing these pop-up, hands-on cocktail classes. Either we go into people’s homes, or I find a location here in Charlotte. But for me, it was a lot of work. You bring in all the equipment, you take it home, you’re washing it, you’re packing it up. It’s back-breaking work. So it was always my dream to have my own location to hold these classes.”