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The cocktail has a long and storied past, especially on the West Coast. We hope to conduct oral history interviews with key figures in West Coast cocktails.
Shanna Farrell
487 Facebook Friends
Berkeley, California
United States
7 Team Members
This campaign is raising funds on behalf of Regents Of The University Of California At Berkeley, a verified nonprofit. The campaign does not necessarily reflect the views of the nonprofit or have any formal association with it. All contributions are considered unrestricted gifts and can't be specified for any particular purpose.

I like cocktails. You probably like cocktails. In fact, most people like cocktails because they taste good. But they are most than just a fun way to relax -- they are an American invention with a long and storied history. 

UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) is starting a new project about West Coast cocktail culture and we'll be interviewing bar owners, bartenders, spirit distillers, and cocktail historians

Have you ever wondered about who the people are that run our bars, mix our drinks, or our make our spirits? Well, now is your chance to find out! We're raising money to get this project off of the ground and we need your help (which is tax deductible!).


The cocktail was defined in 1806 as a “stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” According to Dale DeGroff, bartender extraordinaire, “cocktail culture is deeply intertwined with the American story.” (You can listen to Dale talk about this further here.) 

There’s an incredible amount of information left out of the historical record. We'll be covering themes about:

  • community
  • labor
  • gender
  • the role of geography 
  • the influence of culinary traditions
  • myth-making and storytelling (see: The Martinez)
  • perception of bartending as a respected profession
  • the lineage of training and technique

The interviews will be archived in The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. Transcripts will be available on ROHO’s website and clips from the interviews will be available on our YouTube and SoundCloud pages. We’re partnering with the Museum of the American Cocktail, who will serve as a secondary repository for the interviews. We're also hoping to write a book based on our interviews at the end of the project.


We hope to interview as many people in the cocktail and spirit world who have been key figures on the West Coast. 

We’ve already recorded pilot interviews with:

Our next group of narrators include:

We couldn’t do this alone. Our most excellent project advisors include:

(We'd also like to thank our friends at Prizefighter and East Bay Spice Company for their help along the way.)


We’ll begin recording these interviews in late summer (2014). We’ll be releasing the transcripts and clips as the interviews are completed. Because we’d like to interview upwards of thirty people, this project will likely run for a couple of years.


Although we are part of UC Berkeley, we are a soft money operation and receive very little financial support from the state, causing us to rely on grants and contracts.  This project doesn’t qualify for traditional academic funding, which is why we need your help. This is a community-driven project and we need community support. With your help we can ensure that these stories, which are so important in American history, won’t be lost forever.

This is your chance to help fund a type of project that often gets overlooked in academia. 

The money that you donate (which is tax deductible) will pay for our time spent researching, interviewing, editing transcripts, making the content accessible on the web and in the library for people to use, and interview transcription.

We’re really excited about the potential of this project, which is why we need you to make it a reality.

So, do it so you can understand and enjoy your drinks more thoroughly, do it for your friend who works behind the bar, and do it for history!

We've got some great perks to thank you for your support, including handmade letterpress bookmarks and postcards, a tote bag, a narrative recipe cocktail book with contributions from our narrators and project advisors, a spirits seminar, a private distillery tour and tasting, and a sherry cocktail class

(tote bag and bookmark)

Thank you for your support - we couldn't do this without you!
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raised by 86 people in 1 month
37% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$20,500 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on July 11, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $3USD
    Our Sincere Thanks

    We very much appreciate your support of this project!

    2 claimed
  • $10USD
    Name on our Website

    Thanks for your support! Your name will be added to our website as a project supporter for the world to see.

    4 claimed
  • $15USD
    Letterpress Bookmark

    We'll send you a handmade letterpress bookmark with our project logo to say thanks!

    3 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2014

    Tote Bag

    This cotton tote bag features our new project logo (designed by Jess Peterson and Emily Collins). The first 20 people to claim this perk will get it for just $20!

    20 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: July 2014
  • $25USD
    Public Thank You

    We’ll give you a shout out on one of our social media outlets of your choice – either Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram – for being so awesome.

    4 claimed
  • $50USD
    Thank You Post Card

    You’ll receive a personalized post card thanking you for your support.

    6 claimed
  • $100USD
    Narrative Recipe Book

    We’re putting together a narrative recipe book that will have recipes of personal significance to our narrators and project advisors.

    12 claimed
  • $250USD
    Teaser Compilation

    You’ll be among the first to watch our interviews. You’ll get a compilation of clips from each of our project interviews. We’ll give this to you as either a DVD or transcript, whichever you’d like.

    2 claimed
  • $500USD
    Interviewing Class

    Shanna Farrell will run an Interviewing 101 class, with cocktails.

    1 out of 20 claimed
  • $750USD
    Tour and Tasting at St. George

    Tour and Tasting at St. George You and a friend will have the opportunity to go on a private distillery tour on a Saturday at St. George Spirits in Alameda, CA with either Jorg Rupf or Lance Winters. They’ll lead a private tasting after the tour. Day and time will be determined at the close of the campaign to accommodate the schedules of each contributor.

    1 out of 10 claimed
  • $750USD
    Spirit Seminar at Trou Normand

    Spirit Seminar at Trou Normand You and a friend will attend a private seminar withThad Vogler on spirits: history, tasting, and selection. This will be held on a Sunday afternoon at Trou Normand in San Francisco, CA. The date will determined at the close of the campaign to accommodate the schedules of each supporter.

    0 out of 10 claimed
  • $750USD
    Sherry Cocktail Class

    Sherry Cocktail Class You and a friend will get to attend a private seminar on sherry cocktails with Talia Biaocchi of PUNCH (and author the forthcoming book Sherry). This will take place in New York City during the week of August 18-22 (the exact date will determined at the close of the campaign to accommodate the schedules of each supporter.) The seminar will focus on the history and evolution of sherry in cocktails and will feature drinks that tell this story.

    1 out of 10 claimed
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