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These Black-Owned Wines, Spirits, and Mixers Belong on Your Bar Cart

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Credit: AVEC

Over the past few years, it has been great to see more and more Black-owned brands in stores. Whether it’s at Trader Joe’s, an online boutique, or my local grocery chain, I enjoy picking up a box or bottle and learning about the company’s origin story. Not only is there often a rich personal history that led to the creation of their products, but so many of these creators broke through major barriers to launch their lines.

The company I co-founded, Bold Xchange, curates gifting experiences that showcase Black-owned brands. So I spend a lot of my time searching for and sampling great products. And while we don’t sell 21+ items (yet), I’m always looking for great Black-owned brands to try at home — wine, spirits, and mixers included. As I prepare to do my quarterly bar cart refresh, here are some of the brands I’m planning to add to my selection.

If there were one bottle of wine I could drink anytime, it would be Black Girl Magic Riesling from McBride Sisters. While I’ve begun gravitating toward the reds, I will always appreciate a good, easy-drinking riesling, and this one fits the bill. The sisters behind this label have built a line that serves any kind of wine drinker — their selections range from sparkling New Zealand wines to canned California spritzers to their crisp, refreshing rosé.

What I love most about Inbooze infusion kits is they’re great whether you’re going for a non-alcoholic drink or want a 21 and up experience. The kits come with dried fruits and premium spices (think cinnamon sticks and whole ginger), which you then use to infuse water or the spirit of your choice. When it’s ready, pour over ice and top with soda or seltzer and enjoy up to ten cocktails or mocktails.

Authenticity, freedom, and self-determination are the three pillars of Exclave Spirits, which was created to honor the often untold, sometimes erased contributions of Black people to the world of distilled spirits. Founder Andrew Albert is no stranger to the industry, having been a co-creator of River Basin Distillery in New Orleans. With this line of spirits — starting with rye and bourbon — as well as a series of highly curated events, Exclave celebrates the Black history of distilled spirits, while leaning into the deep interpersonal connections we can make over a great drink.  

​​Chris Christensen, who created Bodkin Wines, has earned top marks for his varieties. Of the 15 in his lineup, 11 have received a score of 90 or above from Wine Enthusiast. Christensen is also credited as being the first American to make a sparkling sauvignon blanc. In addition to traditionally bottled varieties, Bodkin has also partnered with woman-owned Maker Wine to create a canned sparkling rosé.

Another brand going beyond the beverage is Ten to One, a rum brand that has made a concerted effort to celebrate their fellow Black creators in wine and spirits. In addition to their white and dark rum varieties, they published Kindred Spirits, a book highlighting 28 Black bartenders across the country. Each one shares their story as well as a cocktail recipe — one for each day of Black History Month.

6. AVEC

Although Bold Xchange doesn’t sell alcohol, we do sell a cocktail kit that includes this mixer. What I love most about AVEC is their “no nasties” policy: no artificial flavors, no sugary syrups, just real ingredients. Their canned mixes bring ease to any cocktail-making process, but can also be sipped on their own over ice as a non-alcoholic alternative to sugary seltzers.

Ten to One recently collaborated with another one of my favorite whiskey brands, Uncle Nearest, on a limited-edition rum finished in bourbon cask barrels. But I’m more familiar with Uncle Nearest’s Small Batch Whiskey, which won a gold medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The brand pays tribute to “the whiskey maker the world never knew” who left an indelible mark on Tennessee whiskey. Whether you take your whiskey on ice or with a mixer, this one has a full flavor and smooth finish that is more than worth a try. 

This is a recent addition to my rolodex of great brands, and I’m so glad I got to try them. Another real ingredients, alcohol-free option, these bottled beverages are made with spices and fruits, and enhanced with tea or shrubs. Kombucha lovers will enjoy the Manhattan Berry or Capri Sour. If you want an alternative to a fruity margarita, consider Bombay Fire, which is spicy and smoky, sweetened only with organic agave. 

One of my new favorite things is ready-to-drink cocktails. You’ll find lots of options that come in cans or single-serve bottles, but I love that Courage & Stone sells theirs in quality glass bottles, much like the whiskey or vodka you’d showcase on your bar cart. They’ve launched the brand with two classics: the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. All you have to do is pour over ice, and add a bit of garnish if you’re feeling fancy.

If you consider yourself a serious home mixologist, Hella Cocktail should be a staple for you. They sell a selection of premium mixers, locally made bitters (which they’ve dubbed the mixologist’s spice cabinet), and mixed drinks. Because of the small amounts of bitters used in any drink, they are considered non-alcoholic, even though they are made with alcohol. But luckily, Hella has great, completely non-alcoholic options that are delicious on their own or with other beverages.

Brown Estate started as a grape seller back in 1980 when the original owners purchased and renovated the property in Napa Valley. Fifteen years later, their children decided to make their own wine instead of just selling the grapes to local winemakers. And Brown Estate’s line of wines was born. A friend of mine specifically recommended Chaos Theory, a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and zinfandel that has notes of black fruit and chocolate.

Danielle Deavens

Contributor

Danielle is an entrepreneur, writer, and former magazine editor living in St. Louis, MO. When she's not typing away on her laptop, she's likely cooking, posting a photo of her food on Instagram, or binge re-watching her favorite shows and movies. She is also the co-founder of Bold Xchange, an online shop for black-owned brands.

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