After spending six years serving his country as a member of the Marine Corps, Steven Huddleston was drawn into the world of hospitality while at school.

Steven Huddleston , portrait

Steven Huddleston

Photo by Herman Nicholson

“A career following my degree path in accounting wasn’t going to leave me happy and fulfilled,” Huddleston told us. As a natural introvert, being behind the bar encouraged him to build connections and come out of his shell in a way that no other industry could. Now he works in the food and beverage community in Charlotte, NC, consulting for brands and bringing his accounting background to the hospitality industry.

We caught up with him after he competed in the Bacardí Legacy competition to learn more about both his beautiful cocktail submission and the cause he championed while competing. “When picking a cause, I had to think about one that related to both my Legacy cocktail, Mi Mariposa, but also truly represented how Bacardí feels about family and my own personal legacy,” said Huddleston, explaining that the cocktail he created was inspired by his daughter. Due to his own history, he chose Children of Restaurant Employees, or CORE, as his cause. “CORE is an organization that truly could have helped me through the lowest moment of my life,” he added. “I want to do everything I can to support CORE and raise awareness, so no one has to feel lost.”

CORE has been in operation since 2004 and has raised more than $4 million to support families in the hospitality industry across the country. The program works by offering grants and financial assistance to the families of restaurant workers after several types of qualifying events. Expenses they can help cover include rent, utilities, medical bills and supplies, therapy, childcare expenses, and children’s needs such as diapers and formula.

What advice would Huddleston give to bartenders who are struggling? “Talk to someone! The worst thing you can do is think that you are stronger by doing it alone. Whatever your problem is I assure you that it can get better if you just talk to someone and take to time to say HELP. I was a very stubborn person who thought that I should solve my problems on my own and it took me too long to say I couldn’t do it alone and needed help.“

Huddleston added that for bartenders looking to support CORE in these unprecedented times, there are a few different ways. “Whether you are an individual monthly donor, a CORE Ambassador, or someone who refers a family for CORE support, any involvement makes a difference.” In the meantime, he ends with the note, “Support and awareness through social media support is always a great help. So, tag and share as much as possible! Social media can be tagged at #mimariposalegacy, @core_gives, @italicusrdb, @bacardiusa, @bacardi and @mi_mariposa2020.”

Mi Mariposa

Mi Mariposa

Photo by Herman Nicholson

Mi Mariposa


  • 1 1/2 oz. Bacardi Superior
  • 1/2 oz. Italicus Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz. Vanilla Syrup
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

Preparation: Shaken & Double Strained Into a Tall Stemmed Cocktail Coupe. Garnish with Italicus Flavored Isomalt Glass Bulb Holding Edible Flowers.

“My cocktail is themed around butterflies as my daughter always made me call her my little butterfly. I always told her that like butterflies, people always have a chance to change into something beautiful and to never count someone or something out.”
– Steven Huddleston