Keyatta Mincey-Parker brings a diverse background of more than 20 years in the foodservice industry, from hotels to fine dining to dance clubs. Originally from Liberia, Mincey-Parker has partnered with some of the country’s most influential spirit brands, chefs, home bartenders and farmers, to bring her message of creating picture-perfect cocktails.
In addition to mixology, Mincey-Parker focuses on A Sip of Paradise, her 501c3 nonprofit bartender community garden based in Atlanta. She also has a foundation called The Jim Project, which focuses on training young women in Liberia in hospitality and bar culture as an alternative to prostitution and other unhealthy ways to make a living.
We caught up with Mincey-Parker to discuss bartending, her passion projects and what she’d mix up for Vice President Kamala Harris.
What was your first bartending or hospitality job?
My first job was as a hostess at a restaurant in the Atlanta area called PoFolks in 1994, right after my 16th birthday. I quickly climbed the ladder to server and management, but my first bartending job was in October 2002 after my daughter was born.
One of your passion projects is the Sip of Paradise community garden in Atlanta. When and why did you create it?
A Sip of Paradise Garden was an idea birthed when I competed in Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition; it was part of the Canvas Challenge and my creative outlet outside of bartending. I formally started the garden in January 2020. As bartenders, there is nothing just for us. With this garden, I want to provide a safe space and something to sustain us.
Can you tell us about your foundation, The Jim Project?
The Jim Project is something I started to help young ladies back home in Liberia. I was one of the lucky ones in that I was born to an American mother, so I was able to seek refuge through several wars in Liberia. The most recent one was particularly devastating because it was so long and ruthless. Many girls and women fled with their families to neighboring countries, but the ones left behind were killed or worse.
Even though the war is over, much of the country is still recovering and a lot has been set back. Women are usually the help, cleaning and cooking, and many still prostitute themselves to make ends meet or support their families.
The Jim Project will provide training in three forms: women aged 16 to 20 will be trained in hospitality, women aged 21 to 24 will be trained in bartending and bar culture. And we will secure them employment in a booming hospitality industry.
It’s my long-term project, and I know it’s going to take a lot, but I am a very, very determined person that loves to be told “no” so I can prove people wrong.
What’s your current go-to cocktail or beverage?
This past year has been very strange. Early on a lot of the things I drank and enjoyed were based on what I had at home.
But seeing Kamala Harris become the vice president—a woman, a beautiful and Black woman, a woman with a cultural blend (I have an American mother and Liberian father), who isn’t afraid to be strong or tough—I feel I can relate to her on many levels.
Kamala inspired me to create a cocktail for her with ingredients from my community garden. The Pistil & Proper is a play off the Prim & Proper. It includes gin, lemon, lime and pineapple juices, and is perfumed with a hibiscus and orange blossom tincture. It’s a connection for me to where we grow flowers and take on all the flowers in this cocktail.
My secret hope is Kamala drinks gin and loves it. Maybe one day I would be blessed to make it for her, but we can all dream right?!
But this is for her, and it’s a blend of her cultures and things I love, too. The name of the cocktail is a play on words and connects our similarities.
Pistil & Proper
- 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin
- ¾ oz. VP Syrup sugar syrup infused with saffron flowers, star anise, tamarind, pink peppercorns and dried hibiscus
- ½ oz. Fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz. Fresh sweet lime juice
- 1 oz. Fresh pineapple juice
- 5 drops of Jamaican #1 bitters
- Combine ingredients and shake hard.
- Strain into a coupe glass and top with hibiscus and orange blossom tincture (if available).
- Garnish with saffron flowers, dried hibiscus and pink peppercorns.