Matador: Louisiana's First Black-Owned, Sugarcane Vodka
Photo Credit: Matador Vodka | Facebook

Photo Credit: Matador Vodka | Facebook

Matador: Louisiana's First Black-Owned, Sugarcane Vodka

black owned business , baton rouge , news
Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Jan 17, 2022

Bobbie Johnson and James Williams are the co-founders of Matador Vodka— Louisiana’s first Black-owned sugarcane vodka.

“Bobbie said I got this idea, ‘let’s make our own alcohol’… I said I don’t know anything about it but let’s do it,” Williams, who also serves as COO of Matador Vodka, told BR Proud.

For Johnson, creating the brand in 2018 came down to one thing: representation.

“[I wanted] to do something different,” Johnson said, “to do something that has never been done by a minority. There is a need for our presence in this industry.” 

While traditional vodkas are made with grain or potatoes as the base, Matador is made from pure Louisiana sugarcane. The state’s sugarcane crop is one of the successful in the state and vital to Louisiana’s economy, as it generates more than $3 billion to the economy. Sugarcane is produced on more than 400,000 acres of land in at least 22 of the state’s parishes.

“We have a vodka that is 100 percent sugarcane-based,” Williams added. “You get the mouth feels of caramel and butterscotch. So, it goes down really, really smooth. It’s not like any other vodka you’ve ever tasted.”

Before launching Matador, Johnson was an engineer for five years. The name for the vodka was inspired by Johnson’s belief that we all will become a bullfighter at some point in our lives. 

“Matador is just that, it’s a bullfighter,” said Johnson. “A matador will dodge the bull with grace, and that’s what the brand is about … To be graceful as you continue to be successful and reach different levels in life.” 

You can find the vodka online at Total Wine & More. It’s also served at various restaurants throughout Baton Rouge, including Soji: Modern Asian, Tsunami, BLDG 5, and Bin 77. The co-founders have plans to expand across the state and nation.

You follow the brand on Instagram here.

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