After 8 years of study and travel, Houston, Texas based Elena Vann started working behind the bar three years ago and quickly found herself at home.

Currently, she bartends at The Toasted Coconut in Houston and is a part-time off-premise brand ambassador for Santa Teresa.

Elena Vann

Elena Vann

“Working with Santa Teresa has been a really awesome opportunity, especially considering the sort of clout and pride that lives within the brand and the bottle for Venezuelans, and even non-Venezuelans, in the industry there’s a lot of respect and pride.” – Elena Vann

As one of the newer ambassadors for the brand, the fit for her made perfect sense, “The common thread between my interests and what I was studying originally and what I’m doing now is community; its community outreach and community impact.”

For Vann, and Santa Teresa, human connection is one of the most critical aspects of building community. “Within the bar industry, we have such a connection to our cities and our local communities. You know, we have the regulars that live around the corner that will walk to you, and others that want get out and explore and come see how you represent your neighborhood,” Vann explained. The Toasted Coconut is a tiki bar located in Austin’s Montrose neighborhood, despite opening just before the pandemic hit, the bar and its staff have made an impact on the community. By giving back and adding dimension to the community, the Toasted Coconut and its team bring a space for visitors to learn, explore, and experience something new.

Santa Teresa 1796

Santa Teresa 1796

During the worst of the pandemic, the integrity of this community truly showed, “Bars all over have such an opportunity to use their platform and their connection, especially with the rise and pervasiveness of social media. During the pandemic, it was incredible to see the kind of commitment community that happened within all the restaurants. We’re so connected, and everybody knows each other, different restaurants took turns providing shift meals for out of work bartenders who couldn’t go to work. Providing you know, ‘here’s a simple meal it’s nothing crazy, but hey, don’t worry about spending you know that unemployment check if you’re getting it on just making sure that you have food for a day.’ This is a cost that we can and will incur for the greater good to support everyone so that we can all come out of this together.”

According to Vann, one of the best ways to work to create a better community behind the bar is to get involved and active. Meeting and interacting with more people in your industry, and tangential industries, not only helps you grow as a bartender, but as a member of an integrated community. “You can learn more and explore ideas. If you the show desire of wanting to learn something more, there’s going to be somebody there to help you out. Utilizing the industry and bartenders and using those relationships to increase knowledge and increase passion, because that rubs off on you. When you see someone who’s really into what they do and they’re excited and you see a bunch of other excited like-minded people around you, you want to step up to the plate show and demonstrate that passion for the craft.”