Back in July, Hollis Bulleit, a brand ambassador for the bourbon business that her family started, announced on Facebook that her contract had not been renewed. Accusing her family of stiff-arming her and her partner Cher, the “First Lady of Bourbon” wrote, “After ten years of experience, one could conclude that no one knew what to do with a non-straight woman besides ignore me and reap the benefits of my relationships and sales.”
Bulleit’s parent company denied assertions that she was fired because of bias, and yesterday, the Louisville Courier-Journal published a letter in which Hollis’s father, company founder Tom Bulleit, insisted that “any information that we have not been supportive of Hollis and [her partner] Cher, or their commitment to one another, and have not been welcome in our family is incorrect and greatly saddens us.”
While the drama continues to play out, Cobra Club is taking a stance. Not only is the East Williamsburg bar purging Bulleit from its shelves, but on Wednesday, it’ll auction off its remaining bottles and donate the proceeds to GLSEN, a non-profit dedicated to fostering safety and respect for LGBTQ students. All bottles auctioned off by Brooklyn-based drag queen Ragamuffin will be destroyed, and winners will instead receive bottles of Little Wolf Whiskey, made by Brooklyn’s own Three Kings Spirits.
The move has sparked plaudits, along with some debate. Responding to Cobra Club’s announcement on Facebook, one user asked, “Why waste good whiskey? Especially since these are anecdotal allegations which seem far from settled fact, and according to Bulleit herself, this seems to be more of an issue with her family than with the company.” Another user, who said she knew Hollis Bulleit, responded, “I take issue with people who question the victims of abuse who find the courage to come forward about something extremely traumatizing, and are subsequently retraumatized by fools demanding ‘both sides of the story.'”
Wednesday’s auction will be preceded by a cocktail hour and starts at 9pm at Cobra Club, at 6 Wyckoff Avenue.