A New Cocktail Conference With a Political Twist


But the three partners began making plans early last year, before any of those developments.

“You know, the time has been right for this conversation for a long time,” Ms. Allison said. “Yesterday was the right time. Five years ago was the right time. I’m so happy that movements like #MeToo are catapulting this into the national conversation. The next step in that conversation is to make workplaces happier, safer and more inclusive.”

Panels will include one on the “cross section between race, gender, sexuality within the hospitality community,” said Ashtin Berry, one of the panelists and beverage director of Tokyo Record Bar in New York City. Also on the panel will be Don Lee, a New York bartender and developer of barware who has long been outspoken on social issues.

Among the main events will be a party held by Trash Tiki, a group that promotes sustainability and the elimination of waste behind the bar; and the national championship of Speed Rack, a contest for female bartenders started by Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero. The enterprise donates about $100,000 every year to breast cancer charities.

For Ms. Marrero, the partnership with Chicago Style was a natural. “They share the same ideology as Speed Rack in many ways,” she said.

Ms. Allison anticipates that many of the other festivities will take place at Chicago bars and restaurants “that have women or people of color or queer people at the helm.”

“We’ve been here,” said Nandini Khaund, the beverage director at Cindy’s, a rooftop bar in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, who will take part in a panel. “We are brown, we are queer and you may not have noticed because the institutions are slower to acknowledge the shift in the paradigm.”

The convention’s intent to do things differently extends to its corporate sponsorship. Critics of cocktail conventions have complained in the past that powerful liquor conglomerates use their influence to set the agenda. Chicago Style will seek backing from the spirits industry, but on its own terms.

“We’re building our programming first and then finding partners that want to support us as we are,” Ms. Allison said. “We’re not shying away from radical conversations.”

The conference will be for-profit, with some money going to two charitable organizations: the Chicago Period Project, an organization that distributes feminine hygiene products to women in need; and the James Beard Foundation’s Women Leadership Programs, which offers mentoring opportunities to women in the restaurant industry.

A full schedule of events will be released mid-February, and ticket sales begin March 1.

“We love the hospitality industry,” Ms. Allison said. “As an industry, it’s one that prides itself on making people welcome. There’s no way we can continue to pride ourselves on inclusion if we don’t also operate our businesses on that level.”

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