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6 Black-Owned Alcohol Brands To Cheers To Now

These women-led brands are perfect for your next brunch or holiday celebration.

Workin' Girl

Drake said we're "drinking every night because we drink to my accomplishments," and in 2021 why not do it with a Black-owned beer, wine or liquor of your choice, especially when the brand is also founded by women? Finding Black-owned liquor and wine can already be a challenge, but add woman-owned to that and the options dwindle even further. For context, less than 1% of all U.S. wineries are Black-owned, but Black people make up more than 10% of American wine consumption. The math here ain't mathing, and it's time to change that.

While I enjoy meeting up with friends at a bar to have a fancy cocktail and catch up, my half-year in quarantine had me appreciating stocking my bar cart and enjoying my sips at home. Personally, I'm a wine and whiskey kind of gal, but I still love to experiment with new brands that pique my interest. More recently I've been on a mission to support more Black-owned alcohol brands, and if a Black woman is behind it? Even better!

Check out some of these alcohol brands owned by Black women that you can bring to the next game night or have at home by yourself:

Founder: Abisola Abidemi

Tell us about Abisola Whiskey and why more women should be drinking whiskey.

Abisola: Our [whiskey] is a non-traditional, young whiskey that's here to celebrate the modern-day whiskey drinker. The typical whiskey drinker has changed and evolved; they've gotten younger, more women are drinking whiskey. I mean, there's this whole evolution of whiskey that has been happening for the past twenty years. I wanted to create a brand that celebrated this and celebrated people's every day achievements, all while creating a legacy for my generation.

"More women should be drinking whiskey because it tastes amazing! There's so much versatility with whiskey and you can see that by all the whiskies that are out there."

Take it straight, take a shot of it, make an amazing cocktail with it; whiskey can do it all. And so can women. Women can do it all, women are versatile and strong; honestly, it's a perfect match!

What has it been like entering the spirits industry as a Black woman? What have been some challenges?

It's been quite a whirlwind of rejection, of excitement, of meeting different people and being inspired. It's been overall amazing, even the rejections, even the negative feedback. I just launched in May of this year and have learned so much being in this industry. In terms of challenges, I will say that the largest one has been that sometimes I don't get taken seriously. I mean, you have a young girl with a young whiskey that tastes nothing like what's out there right now? So, there's a lot of doubt about whether or not this can even be good or how can people be interested in this?

I just nod my head and take it on the chin, you know? Because I believe in this, I believe in the taste, the brand, the celebration, all of it.

Founder: Marvina Robinson

Tell us about B. Stuyvesant Champagne.

Marvina: It's a boutique brand champagne that publicly launched in February 2020. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. —Bedford Stuyvesant—which is what the brand is named after. Being in the wine industry is very new for me, as I've worked on Wall Street for 20 years. I went to Norfolk State University for undergraduate and studied Biology, received my M.A. in statistics from Columbia University. I'm a lover of champagne and the original goal was to open a champagne bar. I wanted a private label for the bar. COVID forced me to pivot as it was not the best time to sign a new lease, and I was asked to put the bottles on shelves for retail. I was nervous because that was not my original plan, but it was the best decision I made.

How would you describe your journey into the champagne industry? What have been some challenges?

I am far from mainstream, I wish I could be mainstream but the brand is not a norm. I let it grow and branch out organically. I am not backed by any investors, celebrity names, or venture capitalist funding so I am doing everything on my own. I do not mind it at all because this is the best way to learn and it is a woman-made brand from the ground up.

I would say it has been interesting, some good and some bad. I always get asked, "Is this real champagne?" It can only be called champagne if it comes from the Champagne region [of France]. The bad is that I am questioned about the authenticity. The good is that the brand has been embraced by many and growing daily.

What are some goals for the brand going forward?

I would love to have the brand be global, as well as be the go-to brand for the hospitality industry. It's a lot of work for me but I am looking forward to doing the work in order for me to reach this goal!

Founder: Alisa Mercado

What has it been like entering the beer industry as a Black woman? What have been some challenges?

Alisa: It's been inspiring entering the beer industry as a Black woman as it allowed me to identify the lack of representation and to build and strive to change that. I was the first African-American, woman-owned beer brand in the state of Connecticut (fourth in the country). Challenges have included getting the brand out there like those that have been nationally distributed and around for decades. Our products can be found in locations such as Whole Foods, Total Wine, Trader Joe's, Big Y, and ShopRite, just to name a few.

What makes your beer stand out from others currently on the market?

Our beer is unique and stands out because we specialize in classic traditional beer, which are lagers. But we only identify with brands like Bud, Heineken, Coors and Corona. Our products are unfiltered which means there is a health benefit. We want to make sure that we drink in moderation but we also don't pump bad stuff into our bodies or our communities.

Founder: Nayana Ferguson

Would you describe your path as more mainstream or indie in regards to getting your brand out there?

Nayana: I think we are definitely leaning toward the indie path rather than mainstream [in order to get] the Anteel brand out there. When we started, we did not have the large budgets to follow a mainstream path that major brands can. We used social media consistently to grow our brand and my husband, who knows quite a bit about social media marketing, used some tactics to not only grow visibility for the brand, but to create a strong, dedicated following.

When we first launched in our home state, we visited over 150 retailers in three months, by ourselves, seeking product placement. We also conducted all the in-store tastings, handled all the marketing internally, and did the majority of our own PR outreach. Doing everything ourselves taught us a lot and kept us focused on turning Anteel Tequila into a well-known tequila brand around the country.

What has it been like entering the spirits industry as a Black woman?

As a Black woman owner, entering the spirits industry has had its challenges, but I have overcome them by focusing on my goals and by adapting when necessary. I am extremely grateful to be able to create a path for others to follow, where we can create brands that speak to our ingenuity, culture and vision.

It is extremely important to me to make sure that I am helping to inspire women to create and execute whatever vision they have for their lives and to bring diversity in the areas they choose to be a part of.

Women have to be fearless when creating the businesses that they are passionate about and not let obstacles deter them. I look forward to continuing to move forward on this path and bringing other women with me, so that we all can create our legacies.

What is your favorite cocktail to make with your tequila?

I have several favorite cocktails that we make with Anteel Tequila and it truly depends on the season. However, I would have to say that my favorite cocktail to make is the Coconut Lime Margarita. It is a very simple cocktail consisting of only three ingredients. It is a one-of-a-kind cocktail, since it is made with the world's only Coconut Lime Blanco Tequila and it is a cocktail that I can drink in any season.

Founder: Chrishon Lampley

Tell us about Love Cork Screw.

Chrishon: It's the wine and lifestyle brand you bring to a game night with friends, the brand you introduce to board members at an annual gala, and the brand you experience for the first time at a couples' paint-and-sip event. We know that we are not your traditional wine but because of our deep commitment to providing quality, we are sure to quickly become one of your favorites!

What does it mean to you to be one of only a small percentage of Black women in this industry and what have been some challenges?

Not being taken seriously as an African-American woman negociant (a wine trader or merchant), which did not give me the ability to build genuine relationships with wine decision-makers to reach the masses. Another challenge would be not receiving financial support from grants due to the industry.

Being one of only a small number of Black women in wine means a lot to me, and now I have more room to break glass ceilings till there's no more to be broken!

Redd Rose Vodka

Image courtesy of Redd Rose

Founder: Taylor Jackson

Tell us about Redd Rose and the "why" behind starting your own brand.

It's a flavored vodka brand that is named after my grandmother Rose Redd, who was the first African-American woman to own a recycling business in Ohio. The brand is #BEcauseofHER. She was a first-class woman who defied the odds in creating a business that she worked and gave other people the opportunity to showcase their items to sell. She was strong, resilient, and outspoken. What better way [to honor her] than to create a brand in a male-dominated industry.

Would you describe your path as more mainstream or indie in regards to getting your brand out there?

Mainstream. When Redd Rose hit the market, I told her story first and my "why" per se. This is the most important, as Redd Rose is not the next vodka brand to just sit on the shelves, but the next Vodka brand to sit on your shelf. Something I realized is that people purchase what they like because they like it. There is no story or real person behind the majority of the marketplace, but Redd Rose has a story with a real personal behind it.

What makes your vodka stand out from the other brands?

Redd Rose can be sipped over ice, no mixer, no chaser. It's just that simple. It's a brand that is made for the hardworking, resilient, strong and confident women.

For more job search tips, career advice and profiles, check out the xoNecole Workin Girl section here.

Featured image via Getty Images

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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