Written by Leslie Criss | Recipes by Taariq David | Photographed by Joe Worthem. | Drinks styled by Sarah McCullen
The business of hospitality is nothing new for Taariq David — he’s worked in and around restaurants from his home city of Washington, D.C., to Oxford, and plenty of points in between for 25 years.
In 2020, when the pandemic abruptly halted the hospitality industry, David and Sam Bullock, his business partner from Detroit and a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts - Chicago, created Hospitality Bruhs, a culinary and event planning collective.
The business, which has received high praise from those who’ve experienced one of Hospitality Bruhs’ virtual events, offers fun, unique and safe social gatherings online.
Recently planned events have included a party for two, a company’s employee conference and even a fundraiser for former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Here’s how it works:
“We send a shopping list ahead of the event that will be needed for the meal and cocktail,” David said. “During the event, when everyone is on Zoom, we all prepare the food and the drink together, but from our own homes.”
At one virtual event, Bullock lead in the preparation of Maple Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chops and Greens, and David offered the history of the Old-Fashioned and demon-strated how to make the muddled cocktail.
Stirring or shaking up adult beverages comes easily for David, who lives in Water Valley with his wife and four daughters. He is a regular participant in Iron Bartender, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s answer to Iron Chef. Local bartenders compete to create the best alcoholic beverage from ingredients made available to them, and winners are named for a People’s Choice award and a Judges’ Choice award.
“This cocktail is a bees knees variation that I made for my sister, who doesn’t drink often. When she does, her alter ego comes out.”
1 ½ ounces Cathead Honeysuckle vodka
¾ ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
¾ ounce honey syrup
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
Fresh mint, for garnish
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, shake vodka, liqueur, honey syrup and lemon juice well with ice. Double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with fresh mint. Smack mint in your hand to release some of the oils, and add mint to drink as garnish.
“This is a refreshing and cooling cocktail that is perfect for a sunny day. Even if you don’t love cucumbers, you will love this cocktail. The syrup brings out the melon-like aspect of the flavor of cucumber, and the lime makes it just right.”
1 ½ ounces gin (such as Hendrick’s, Uncle Val’s or Bombay Sapphire)
1 ounce cucumber syrup (recipe below)
½ ounce fresh lime juice
Splash of club soda
Cucumber or lime wheel, for garnish
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, shake gin, cucumber syrup and lime juice well. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with club soda, and give it a gentle swirl with a cocktail spoon to incorporate the bubbles. Garnish with cucumber or a lime wheel.
Leaving the skins on, slice 2-3 cucumbers into chunks, and add them to a blender or food processor. Process cucumbers until pureed. Pour cucumber puree through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass, pressing with a spoon to release all juices. Repeat process a few times to remove as much pulp as possible. Measure cucumber juice and place in a small bowl; add an equal amount of granulated sugar to juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Transfer syrup to a squeeze bottle, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Click here for more cocktail recipes from another accomplished Iron Bartender contestant, Marissa Wyant.