● One-half ounce Cointreau
● Fresh squeezed orange juice
Sugar half the rim of a highball glass with superfine sugar. Add all
When LaTanya White first made her “Orange Marmalade” it was by mistake for not having been supplied all the ingredients necessary for a guest’s order for a “Sex on the Beach”. As I sit here in my one-bedroom home, sipping on my makeshift version of the drink in a champagne glass, rather than the preferred high-ball glass, I can taste White’s simple—yet elegant— talent. But let’s start at the beginning.
Ms. White began her path to her career with no thought of bartending or entrepreneurship. In fact, she was still working in pharmaceutical sales when she was asked to serve drinks at a sorority sister’s milestone birthday party. Though it was just beer and soda that White was serving, she says she “had a blast.” After that, LaTanya decided to make bartending her hobby and pet project.
In 2007 she registered her company, 71 Proof, with the state. At the time she still intended the company to be an aside in her life. She was featured in Essence Magazine in April 2007 with her company as the “Side Hustle of the Month.” As her passion grew, however, she thirsted for more. After a particular contract ended in her pharmaceutical sales job, she decided to travel to the birth place of the American Cocktail, New Orleans, to volunteer at Tales of the Cocktail in hopes of sitting in on some of the workshops.
She made an impression at the event and her passion gained momentum as she was chosen for a Cocktails Apprenticeship the next year. From there, she researched and attended numerous workshops. White was grateful for the exposure to the upscale cocktail industry that is just not found in Tallahassee. “It’s just like any other network,” LaTanya imparts, “Once people know who you are and know your name and know what your goals are, if they can help in any way, they will.”
To gain knowledge and credibility, White attended bartending school in Tampa, FL where she could attend classes on the weekends while still maintain a full-time job during the week. There, she focused on bartending efficiency but not really crowd dealing skills. Those she learned from experience. Since 2006, Ms. White has bar-catered numerous professional events including events with Florida A&M University, the Florida Commerce Credit Union (“I love those guys over there”,) and local attorneys Parks & Crump.
What I think is one of the most interesting facets of her concept (or of any bar-catering service I’ve known) is her “Custom Cocktail Designs.” Beginning with the aforementioned Orange Marmalade, White has produced copious unique cocktail recipes. “One day,” she says, “when they figure out how to clone people, I will get them all published.”
She eventually plans to host what she describes as “almost a Tales of the Cocktails but on a smaller scale” where she will have a panel of local celebrities each design a cocktail.
White has now officially been bit by the entrepreneurial bug and is working on securing a location for her upcoming lounge, Concept Creative Hospitality Group (http://71proofllc.com/ ). Because of her energy and because of my entrepreneurial heart, I truly hope to see LaTanya reach her goals. I have a feeling, however, that she doesn’t need my hoping.