One Woman’s Amazing Journey From Refugee To Most Imaginative Bartender Finalist
At the Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Laverstoke, England 12 whip-smart mixologists are sitting in a room, listening intently as Marco Corallo, head bartender at the Langham Hotel’s Artesian Bar, shares his cocktail craft secrets. They scribble furiously, their faces are taut and attentive; indeed this is the most stressed I have ever seen people who work with booze. Their stress is justified as they are the regional finalists in Bombay Sapphire’s 13th annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition. The finale in Chicago this coming February promises to be intense, especially with a $10,000 cash prize and a $25,000 grant from the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation on the line. Looking around the room I see an intriguing and eclectic group that includes everything from former ballerinas to high school valedictorians but only one, Atlanta-based Keyatta Mincey-Parker, is a mother of two, former model, and a Liberian refugee.
There are other unique challenges that she acknowledges make the pressure to succeed tremendous. “For me, I have this great opportunity and being African-American and female, taking on the pressure of my race and my gender, can be overwhelming. But during this experience the people I met were great. The atmosphere was very supportive, we all want success for each other.”