I first met Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves, known in the biz as The Cocktail Bandits, more than four years ago in Charleston at a tequila event, of course. Since then, we’ve sipped and cheered glasses many times in Charleston and beyond. They came out to cheer me on when I was nominated for best food podcast at The Saveur Blog Awards a couple of years ago. I’ve watched with awe as they have become a force in the national cocktail scene, soaking up knowledge about spirit history and mixology while making a place for more diversity in the spirits world. Last year they published a book about the Charleston beverage scene, the first cocktail book produced in this country by African-American women. They promote female empowerment through advocacy for the food and beverage community, from a feminine, urban perspective, and they do it through straight hussle to show up and be present, interacting both online and in person. There’s a lot more behind their story than swizzle sticks and slices of lemon