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USF alumna to teach the art of crafting cocktails in Tuesday’s mixology class

While alumna Raven Johnson will be showing fellow alumni how to properly mix margaritas during Tuesday’s mixology class, participants under the legal drinking age can also join the fun and learn how to make mocktails. UNSPLASH/John Fornander

USF alumna Raven Johnson is shaking things up — drinks, that is — for USF Week as she joins the USF Alumni Association for a mixology class Tuesday night.

The event will be held via Zoom on April 6 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Johnson will be showing participants how to make two drinks from scratch — Rocky’s green and gold margarita and whiskey sours. The target audience is USF alumni, however, undergraduate students are also welcome to join, according to USF Alumni Association Associate Executive Director Jay Hardwick.

Those who register for the event will receive a shopping list for ingredients that remain under $20 in total. The class will feature instructions on how to create simple syrup from scratch, slice herbs and fruits and assemble the cocktail correctly to create the drink without using a pre-made mix.

During the event, Johnson will also go step-by-step through making non-alcoholic alternatives, commonly known as “mocktails,” for those under the legal drinking age, such as including Coke rather than alcohol.

The event will cost $20 to register, half of which will be going toward Johnson’s business, Pour Up Atlanta, and the other half will go toward the USF Green and Gold scholarship fund, which is used to finance various scholarships for current students. The event will be moderated by Hardwick, with a brief trivia session and an opportunity for participants to mingle during a 10-minute break between cocktails.

Johnson graduated from USF in 2017 with a master’s in education and college student affairs and started her bartending business in 2018 in Atlanta. Also, she was on the board of the Black Alumni Chapter at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) where she graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology in 2015.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson transitioned most of her business dealings online, alongside her mixology classes, which she previously used to fundraise for the Black Alumni Chapter of UNC Charlotte.

“[I and the Black Alumni Chapter] thought of an idea for a fundraising event to benefit the Black tech equity initiative we created,” said Johnson. “We gave computers to underserved populations entering college for the first time, and it went really well.”

Hardwick eventually found Johnson on LinkedIn while looking for a USF alum to host an event for USF week, and according to him, all of the pieces fell into place.

“We’ve been continuing to look for creative virtual ways to be engaging our alumni during the pandemic,” said Hardwick.

“In December, we had a virtual beer tasting event utilizing an alumnus’ brewery, so the next step was to find an alumnus in this kind of industry, [and] we found Raven pretty much entirely out of the blue.”

Hardwick also reached out to the Black Alumni Chapters at USF and UNC Charlotte as well as the USF Atlanta Alumni Association due to Johnson’s affiliations with the cities and institutions to help promote the event.

No experience in mixing drinks is required to participate in Tuesday’s event, so it’s worth a shot.