Kinky Beverages asked bar managers from the Chilled 100 to share their best tips for improving and encouraging diversity behind the stick.

Improving diversity in the workplace is an important tenant to the team at Kinky Beverages, which is why they teamed up with the Chilled 100 to share bar managers advice. Creating a diverse workplace is just one step towards creating an empowering workplace that helps staff and guests thrive. Three Chilled 100 members from across the country shared their thoughts on why diversity behind the stick matters and how to grow it as a manager.

Bartender mixing a drink

Bartender mixing a drink

Photo by Louis Hansel

What benefits do you see to having a diverse workplace – in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and personality?

“There are many benefits. But as an African American bar manager, there’s still a lot of people that have a hard time wrapping their head around POC being in the bartending biz, let alone running the bar. It gives other POC’s a sense of welcome when they see others that look like them, working and imbibing in the same environment. Unfortunately, stereotypes are still a thing and many, most of the time unbeknownst to them, live and breathe by those same stereotypes they also dislike. I think it’s a must to have different ages and personalities in the workplace. It gives the team and place character. It gives it a healthy image and shows non-bias, which is very important!”

– Akil Babb

“It’s vital to diversify your bar space, and really any workplace. By developing teams with different ranges of life experience and insight, you can create a program that touches a wider audience. You can invest in your community in a way that makes bigger waves in this world. Whatever sphere of influence we are given in this world, we should look to bring light to others. The bar is no exception. In fact, I find it to be one of the best platforms out there for community. With an intentionally diverse team, you not only get to create a program that will have stronger legs to stand on, but you get to see your teammates strengthen one another. If I’m not successfully building my teammates up in this way, then tear it all down. It ain’t worth it.”

– Kala Ellis

“When you think about diversity, the first things that people usually think of are factors such as age, gender, race, cultural background, etc., but there is far more to creating a diverse workplace than hiring people who fit into different age brackets or creating the perfect male to female ratio. Though we may share things in common with other individuals, at the end of the day, everyone is their own person and can bring different things to the table, which is why diversity is so important among a team. By hiring people with different personalities and at varying stages of their career, it can help to foster creativity and offer a range of perspectives and ideas.”

– Philip Huy Trinh Quan

How do you create an environment that helps grow and build diversity in the workplace?

“How to create diverse workspaces is a big question! One of the most common things I have heard over the years is statements like, ‘l just am hiring the people that apply’ as a soft explanation as to why they don’t have diverse workspaces. I understand the challenge in that commentary. But I think a better way to address that issue is for us to ask ourselves ‘why aren’t more people feeling welcomed to apply here?’ Why aren’t more women applying to your space? Why aren’t more People of Color feeling like there’s opportunity for them with your team? We all have more work to do in this regard. Restaurants and bars that are mid-to-fine dining can behave in ways that make many people feel like our space is exclusionary. Even if it’s not intentional. I think a big step is to make the experience more approachable. Starting with our guests. For first-time diners, we cannot scoff at someone’s inexperience with our menus. It’s not our guests’ job to know what they like. Because most of us, coming out of high school or college years, we didn’t learn how enjoy a good drink from the start. We learned how to order fast so that they next person in line could get one too. If we openly acknowledge that there’s a learning curve to all this, we start to open the door to more people. I don’t want exclusivity. I want community. If we encourage that every day with each other and with the space we create, more people can feel welcomed to turn their application in to me. It has to be a daily concerted effort. And we have to have the humility to admit that we all have to keep working at it.”

– Kala Ellis

“In an inclusive workplace culture, all these individual differences among employees are accepted and all employees are treated on an equal basis. Workplace diversity starts with hiring. If you want to build diversity in the workplace, you first need to hire diverse candidates. In order to make that happen, you need to make your recruiting process more inclusive and appealing to people with different characteristics. Benefits of workplace diversity are usually mentioned in the context of social responsibility and boosting a company’s reputation. However, workplace diversity has many tangible benefits that directly impact the company’s bottom line and revenue. The only way to successfully manage diversity in the workplace is to incorporate into both your company policies and practices.”

– Philip Huy Trinh Quan

“I believe it starts with working with respect. Respecting the people that work beside you and respecting the establishment and what you make with it. Every single person on staff gives the workplace a certain vibe about it. But if those around you are just as passionate and just as talented. That push you to be better than you were yesterday. That’s when It starts to become a good vibe. When you see your co-workers growing into new positions and using things you taught each other. Suffice to say, loving who you work for, what you work for, and who you work with.”

– Akil Babb

Once you have the diversity, what do you do to help encourage a tight knit, effective, and efficient crew?

“It’s totally normal for employees to face dips in motivation, but it becomes a problem when your colleagues are consistently disengaged. That’s why we gathered to increase motivation in the workplace to help keep you and your team motivated, day in and day out. Let’s get started with one that has the potential to change everything: recognition. And here’s all about it: Recognize great work. Set small, measurable goals. Celebrate results as always. Stay positive as well as Stay fueled. Take regular breaks if needed. Try to stay healthy. See and share the big picture. Be transparent as you can. Provide clarity. Envision and share positive outcomes. Find purpose to lead the team success. Loosen the reins. Provide a sense of security. Power pose. Encourage teamwork. Offer small, but consistent rewards. Change the scenery. Practice and promote mindfulness. And last but not least is to Have fun with everyone you work with.”

– Philip Huy Trinh Quan

“In my personal experience, it helps to have everyone on the same page. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. Let’s be honest… We are all adults here. Talk to each other! Don’t be afraid to just have a conversation with your co-worker, manager, owner. Trust this. It’s much better than the ladder and holding onto it. Or coming off as ” the one who complains all the time.” Have lots of meetings. Easy, “get on the same page” meetings. You’ll be surprised how much that boosts morale and makes for a better workplace.”

– Akil Babb

“If I have the honor of hosting a diverse team in my bar program, then the next step in keeping that team together is all about maintaining growth. It means consistent accountability. A gentle, constant pressure. I hold the standard. So, I have to care more than anybody else. My teams will only ever care just a little bit less than I do about whatever project we’re creating. So, if I am not intentional about setting a standard for cleaning or double straining up-drinks or for investing in my team’s education, then they will only ever care so much. I would love to be able to tell a bartender, “This is how it is.” And from then on out, know that they’ll do it that way every time. Humans don’t necessarily work that way. There has to be internal motivation. Maybe it starts with them wanting to protect their job or trying to keep me off their back. But then, that only keeps the team together while I’m looking. Passion is contagious though. If I share my passion in front of my team, eventually they can’t help but want that for themselves. For example, we take time to workshop cocktail menus together. When we workshop a menu together, there is a next level of pride that we all feel. Everybody has to finish feeling great about their drink, but we give each other real, critical insight. This requires genuine humility but results in immense pride. It brings us together.”

– Kala Ellis

What do you think is the ideal personality recipe for a good bar?

“Here is my personality recipe for a good bar that I used to call it as: TRIPLE C = CULTURE + COACHING + CREATIVITY”

– Philip Huy Trinh Quan

“Humility. Humility has to be a driving force behind your bar program. Ego kills a bar. A lot, a LOT of bartenders think that ego is what makes a cool and successful bartender. It may make a decent hotshot bartender with bits of flair tricks. But it often makes a crappy bar. Kill the star-tender in yourself. And then just do good worthwhile bartending. Make tasty drinks, make good friends, make good money. And do it together. If you’re a bar leader, you have to start with yourself. As bar managers and leaders, we have to see ourselves as a spokesperson for our team. If bartenders feel safe and taken care of within the program you’ve put together, they have the ability to relax and put their egos and anxieties away. We all have a long way to go. But there’s plenty of room on the road for us to get there together.”

– Kala Ellis

Celebrate diversity by mixing up a cocktail created by the Chilled 100 using Kinky Beverages.

Lazo Lemondrop

Lazo Lemondrop

Lazo Lemondrop

By Philip Huy Trinh Quan

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz KINKY Fruit Punch
  • 1 oz Limoncello
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Pomegranate Juice
  • 3x Raspberry

Preparation: Gently muddle the raspberries in a cocktail shaker then add the rest of the ingredients with ice and shake well. Fine-strain into a cocktail glass with an ice cube. Garnish with sprig of thyme and a raspberry.


Paseo Punch

Paseo Punch

Paseo Punch

By Philip Huy Trinh Quan

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. KINKY Pink
  • 1 oz Cardenal Mendoza
  • 1 oz Orange juice
  • 1/2 oz Pineapple Habanero (Twisted Shrub)
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine syrup

Preparation: Add all the ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass and fill up with ice. Grated nutmeg on top and garnish with dehydrated pineapple and sprig of parsley.