Photo Credit: PICHA
Taste Of Black Spirits: The Cultural Tasting Experience Coming To Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids, Michigan is known as “Furniture City”, a nod to its roots as a major lumbering center turned furniture manufacturer. But did you know that the city also lays claim to over 80 breweries? Jonathan Jelks and Willie “Willie The Kid” Jackson want to expand on the impressive adult beverage scene by hosting the first Taste Of Black Spirits from 5-10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13th at the City Flats Hotel, 83 Monroe Center St. NW in downtown Grand Rapids.
The event is a cultural tasting experience promoting Black-owned wine, beer, and spirit brands. The duo co-founded Motu Viget Spirits, a brand completely produced and distilled in Michigan. According to Jelks, the motivation for the event is two-fold.
“We wanted to bring a cultural experience to the city of Grand Rapids,” he explained to Travel Noire. “Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in the state of Michigan. And it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the Rust Belt Midwest. It’s a beautiful city. It’s very efficiently run, but it lacks cultural experiences. We are big proponents of trying to highlight the African American business ecosystem. So, we felt like this was a very cool way to do that; to bring awareness and also connect some of these African American founded companies with distribution opportunities.”
“Because we have a spirits company, Motu Viget Spirits, which is in over 200 stores and 80 stores within Meijer grocery store’s portfolio — one of the biggest grocery retailers in the Midwest — we wanted to get some of these African American founded companies to have similar opportunities.”
One of the participants is metro Detroit’s Anteel Tequila, a naturally gluten-free drink that is low in sugar and calories, co-founded by Nayana Ferguson. Other brands scheduled to appear include Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, Duke & Dame Salted Carmel Whiskey, IslandJon Vodka, LS Cream Liqueur, Equiano Rum, Ten to One Rum, and Cajun Fire Brewing Company. There will be live entertainment featuring a band and DJ as well as a few other surprises.
“We have a live DJ,” shared Jelks. “We have curation happening from one of the interactive art galleries here in the city, Muse GR, which is really exciting. It’s an African American gallery that’s been a part of the revitalization of the west side of the city. They’re doing something special for us. So it’s not just about coming out and tasting different alcoholic drinks. It’s more about celebrating culture, celebrating entrepreneurship, and celebrating the diversity that we feel makes the DNA of the community great. We do have some local brands who are involved with the Taste of Black Spirits here in Grand Rapids, two native West Michigan brands. So we’re really excited about all of that.”
Taste Of Black Spirits is co-hosted by GR USA and Detroit-based Black Spirits Legacy. Tickets are $35-$65 and are available online. The event is also giving back to the community. A portion of the proceeds will support Endless Opportunities, a mentoring program empowering the youth in Grand Rapids.