History Revels Itself at Kimpton Gray Hotel

JB Stradford Kimpton Gray Hotel Chicago DefenderThe Kimpton Gray Hotel’s latest Concierge Cocktail has a deep and important historical significance, paying homage to John the Baptist (J.B.) Stradford, the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 in its centennial year and was created with his great-great-granddaughter.

J.B. Stradford was one of the wealthiest men in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the early 1900’s. Despite being born the son of a slave, J.B. attended Oberlin College and Indiana University Law School.  He became a successful entrepreneur who owned multiple businesses on Black Wall Street including The Stradford Hotel, which housed over 50 rooms, a grand lobby, banquet hall, pool hall, barbershop, restaurant, and drug store. He was well-respected and a peacemaker who was erroneously accused of inciting the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. He died a fugitive while living in Chicago, but received an executive pardon from the Governor of Oklahoma in 1996.

JB Stradford Kimpton Gray Hotel Chicago Defender
“The J.B” and “The Stradford Hotel” cocktail available at the Kimpton Gray Hotel

To honor his name and the centennial year of the Tulsa Massacre tragedy, this season’s cocktail was created in partnership with Erin Toole Williams, his great-great-granddaughter. Director of Concierge Services, Bobby Gonzalez, and Williams worked together to create two unique versions of the fall cocktail.

The J.B” made with Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon, black cherry, honey and soda is a riff on a classic old fashioned with a twist of fall flavors and comfort.

The Stradford Hotel” made with Malfy Gin, Yuzu, orange, green tea and soda is a modern inspired cocktail light and soft yet packed full of flavor.

The Concierge Cocktail is a rotating handmade cocktail series that is bottled in-house and created by Gonzalez. A portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold is donated to a chosen charity. This season’s charity was chosen by Erin Toole Williams and the proceeds will be donated to the John R. Lewis Institute for Social Justice.

“With tremendous pride, my father taught us about the legacy of education passed down from my great-great-grandfather J.B. Stradford. I know the importance of sharing our stories and giving back,” said Erin Toole Williams. “When I learned that selecting a beneficiary was part of the Concierge Cocktail initiative, I thought of my dear Fisk and how attending led me to help others through hospitality as J.B. did. To give in the name of Fisk alumnus John Lewis and his constant fight towards Social Justice makes my heart sing,” she said.

Each Concierge Cocktail is available for guests and the public to purchase from Kimpton Gray Hotel’s Front Desk located on level two. The cost is $11 per bottle and $1 from every bottle is donated to rotating charities. For more information or to book a stay visit https://www.grayhotelchicago.com.

Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial.

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