In the mix

Cuisine People

October 29, 2021



Stock up on bar essentials and learn to mix drinks like a pro at The Cocktailery.

by Michelle Boudin

Tamu Curtis has never actually worked as a bartender, and she says that’s exactly why she’s the perfect person to open The Cocktailery, a new cocktail-supply and beverage shop that also offers hands-on mixology classes at Atherton Mill.

“I wasn’t a bartender, and that’s why I relate so well to the customer —  because I’m them. I’m someone who likes a great dinner and cocktail experience, but I was always so intimidated. I knew [what] tasted good, but I knew nothing about how to create a cocktail.”

Cocktailery owner Tamu Curtis

Curtis relocated from Los Angeles to Charlotte in 2012 to be near her family. She used her marketing background to help generate a buzz when she started offering cocktail-making classes in 2016 under the Liberate Your Palate moniker. She held the classes in private homes, at corporate events — basically anywhere she could find a space.

“It’s all about teaching people the basic structure of a cocktail and empowering them to get creative. It doesn’t have to be super complicated to taste good.”

Once Covid hit, Curtis started offering the workshops virtually, helping people raid their pantries to make a good mixed drink.

“We want to teach people how to look at their pantry and their refrigerator and use ingredients they have at home. Simple syrup can be honey or jam. You just need some sweetness, some citrus and your spirit to really make a balanced cocktail.”

Curtis was shocked when her virtual workshops went gangbusters — interest from corporate clients surged — allowing her to finally open the storefront she’d always planned.

“I had to put my business plan on hold because of Covid, but because of the virtual classes I was able to self-fund the store,” Curtis says. She opened The Cocktailery on Sept. 11. The new retail space is a one-stop shop for everything needed to concoct the perfect cocktail, from barware to bitters. “I thought retail was going to be the cherry on top of the classes, but it’s doing really well,” Curtis says. 

“It’s been quite a journey this past year. I’m just taking it day by day, trying to take advantage of every opportunity. I just feel so accomplished — to see my dream coming to fruition, my way, without having to make any compromises and to have people respond to it … it just feels great.”  SP

The Cocktailery’s retail store is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. Cocktail classes are held Thursday-Saturday evenings starting at 6:30 p.m. Private bookings are available for team-building events, bachelorette parties, birthdays and other occasions. 2000 South Blvd., Suite 430, thecocktailery.com

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