Chicago Style—The Cocktail Conference Focused On Diversity and Inclusion

Chicago Style is a newly formed cocktail conference being held in Chicago, focusing on diversity and inclusion in the beverage industry.


Photos courtesy of Chicago Style

Issues of representation are widespread across all industries—looking within their own industry, bar veterans Shelby Allison (Lost Lake), Caitlin Laman (Ace Hotel Chicago), and Sharon Bronstein (The 86 Co.) noticed a lack of inclusive dialogue among cocktail professionals. They decided to try to change that by introducing Chicago Style, taking place May 7-10 at the Ace Hotel with different events spreading across the city of Chicago. Part of the proceeds of the event will go to the Chicago Period Project and The James Beard Foundation Women’s Leadership Programs.

Chicago Style is a cocktail conference pushing diversity and inclusion into the limelight. Programs and events will center around issues of discrimination, creating opportunities, and promoting sustainability in the beverage industry.

A press release describes the four-day event thusly: “Equal parts think and drink, celebration and critique, party and platform, Chicago Style is a gathering of diverse voices centered on the state of our local, national, and international cocktail communities.” Presentations and events will center around building community and sharing stories from behind the bar from managers, bartenders, writers, and all types of professionals across the spirits world including Ashtin Berry, Alex Negranza, David Wondrich, Joy Spence, Lacy Hawkins, Natasha David, Ryan Chetiyawardana, and Yael Vengroff, as well as Chicagoans Alexis Brown, Ariel Brown, Jacyara de Oliveira, Mony Bunni, Nandini Khaund, and Paul McGee.

Coffee folks have been clamoring for more panels, discussions, and formats for meaningful conversation about diversity and inclusion, and Chicago Style might be the model we aspire to. Along with two days of programming that include talks like, “All-Consuming: Achieving Sustainability Behind the Bar,” “You Are Welcome Here: A Conversation About Intersectionality and Hospitality,” and “Causing a Stir: Empowering Underserved + Underrepresented Communities Within the Hospitality Industry,” this event puts the focus on the gaps in representation in hospitality and the folks who are working to close those gaps.

Along with these presentations, the event will include gatherings such as the U.S. finals for the Speed Rack competition, a female-focused competition that brings together some of the world’s best bartenders; fitness classes specifically for hospitality professionals; a zero-trash cocktail party hosted by Trash Tiki; and a green dot workshop to prevent sexual assault in the workplace.

We at Barista Magazine are excited to see events like this where we can learn from folks in other industries facing similar circumstances, and we’ll be at Chicago Style attending lectures, talking to professionals, and hopefully learning new lessons that can be applied to the coffee industry. You can see a full schedule of events, and tickets are available for a number of events. Stay tuned for continued coverage.

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at