The Team Behind the Project

Kristine Bocchino

Kristine Bocchino

In addition to co-founding The Ada Coleman Project, Kristine is currently head of Global Business Development for Singapore-based bar and brand consultancy, The Compound Collective. 

Between owning her own restaurant, food truck and catering company, to being Beverage Director with luxury brand Four Seasons, and taking time to travel, Kristine has invaluable insights into culture, creative technique and hospitality styles, and has a true passion for teaching and mentoring others.  After assisting with the US launch over the past two years, she can occasionally still be found educating teams about ground-breaking platform ecoSPIRITS, while enjoying free-lance writing within the food, beverage and lifestyle genres

Kaitlin Wilkes

Charmingly Canadian, Kaitlin (Kait) Wilkes is a brand consultant, trade advocacy specialist, Co-Founder of The Ada Coleman Project and award-winning bartender.

She’s spent over a decade in drinks in some of London’s finest hotels (The Savoy, The Berkeley), one of Sweden’s best cocktail bars (Corner Club) and formally, the Global Advocacy Manager for award-winning luxury English gin, Silent Pool. Kaitlin now runs her own company working in trade advocacy, sales and marketing for category innovative or sustainable and independent brands who are looking to create real change and build authentic experiences within the drinks industry.

An active member of the global drinks community, Kait often works with brands to help create meaningful and engaging advocacy programs as well as innovative and approachable drinks strategies to showcase best-in-class liquids. One of her proudest moments; snapping up global recognition when she represented Sweden in the Global final of Bacardi Legacy 2017, which ultimately pushed her into the brand world leading to multiple consultancy projects and helped her develop a true understanding for trade advocacy. Kait’s passion lies not just in delicious liquids, but in storytelling, sustainability and supporting other women within the drinks industry. Kaitlin has recently founded alongside Kristine Bocchino, The Ada Coleman Project: a dedicated digital space for women+ in hospitality. She is an active member in the Celebrate Her Community. Kaitlin most recently presented at Tales of The Cocktail in 2023 with her seminar Breaking Barriers, Boosting Profits: How Women in Leadership Drive Business Growth as well as being a part of a panel discussion at Bar Convent Berlin Spotlight: Women in Drinks. Known best for her twists on classics, being an advocate for other women in the drinks business and her love for Taylor Swift.

kaitlin Wilkes

Meet Our Board of Advisors

Lauren Mote Board Member

Lauren Mote

Lauren Mote is a sought-after consultant and expert in the global spirits industry. Lauren is a Founding Partner of Bittered Sling®, Chard & Laver Agency, Nightcap Media and Kale & Nori Culinary Arts. She’s also the co-founder of Women Celebrate – a social media initiative to highlight women and fem folx in the drink industry and their achievements.
An active member and educator within the global spirits industry, Mote has led seminars at Bar Convent Berlin and Sao Paulo, TED, Vancouver, Barometer and presented at World’s 50 Best Bars Awards. Lauren is a part of the Tales of the Cocktails Culture, Education and Spirited Award committees. Lauren was recognized by her industry peers as one of the top 4 “International Brand Ambassadors of the Year 2019”, top 4 “Best Bar Mentor 2020” at the annual Spirited Awards and the first Canadian woman inducted into the “Dame Hall of Fame” by Tales of the Cocktail. Lauren is often included in the industry’s best lists, including the Bar World 100 by Drinks International, celebrating the very best of the global drinks industry.

Mel Harvey

Mel has worked in the creative industry for over 25 years, in some of the world’s most heralded agency power-houses; WPP, Publicis and Omnicom, which has taken her from Sydney to Paris, Dubai and London (where she currently resides).
She started her career as a designer, but quickly realised her passion was in ideas and became an art director, moving to creative lead, creative director and now global creative director. 

As the landscape of advertising changed, she shifted her focus to becoming a hybrid creative. She strongly believes in the strategic process and believes some of the best ideas are borne from the right creative collaborations.

Mel has worked for some of the world’s leading brands, including The Economist, Ikea, Diageo, Nike, Boots, eBay and Volvo to name just a few. From Luxury to FMCG, tv to social, global and fully integrated, she’s done it and to an award winning standard.

She’s passionate, brave and bold in her pursuit of creative excellence and has championed women in her industry for years, insisting female teams, photographers and directors were always an option for all her projects.

Mel Harvey Board Member
Sandrae Lawrence

Sandrae Lawrence

Currently positioned at number 12 in the Bar World 100, Sandrae is one half of The Cocktail Lovers, the eponymous magazine, website, podcast, events and consumer workshops company she runs with her husband Gary

Noted for knowing whos moving and shaking in the cocktail world, The Cocktail Lovers Magazine was voted Best Spirits & Cocktail Publications in the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2016 and Sandrae was shortlisted for Best Cocktail and Spirits Writer at Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in the same year. The Cocktail Lovers podcast has picked up two awards since launching in 2021: Best Broadcast, Podcast or Online Video Series: Tales of the Cocktail 2022 and Best Food & Drink Podcast: The Publisher Podcast Awards 2022.

As born and bred Londoners Sandrae and Gary are proud to have been listed on the London Evening Standard The Progress 1000 –
Londons Most Influential People in both 2015 and 2017 and more recently, Sandrae was inducted into the Spirited Awards Dame Hall of Fame, shortlisted on the CODE Hospitality Women of the Year and IWSC Communicator of the Year.

As well as publishing The Cocktail Lovers Magazine, their work, opinions and recipes appear in The Daily Telegraph, London Evening Standard, Time Out, Christies International, Ocado and Delicious magazines and together and separately, they are regularly asked to judge cocktail competitions around the world.

John Gakuru

Ask John Gakuru where he’s from and he’d likely pause. Although born in Kenya and raised in England, the East African nation remains very close to his heart, but Australia also has a special connection, having been his stomping ground for nearly a decade. Today, you’ll find him traversing North America, with a home base in Los Angeles. He’s a man who has known many continents and likewise, many roles in his career in the spirits industry.

Gakuru got his first taste of the liquor business behind the bar. He was responsible for managing Lab Bar, a renowned destination for drinks in London’s posh Soho district. This was in the earliest days of the classic cocktail renaissance, and by 2005, he’d been sought out by the Brazilian-based brand, Sagatiba Cachaça. He joined on as their Global Brand Ambassador that year, carving out a seven-year position that took this spirit label from small, South American production to a recognizable name on six continents.

He then spent six years with Think Spirits in Australia, as their On-Premise Manager and Trade Marketing Manager. He was instrumental in the company becoming a Top 10 distributor in the nation where he oversaw the trade communications, brand activity and events of some thirty-five premium spirit brands in the Think Spirits’ portfolio.

Gakuru joined Sweet&Chilli Australia in late 2016, before emigrating to the USA in April 2017, where he flourished as the Director of Sales & Marketing. He managed to bring his incredible two decades of experience both behind the bar, on the world stage, in distribution and brand growth to bear in that role.
It is now Gakuru’s time to shine! With business partner Emily Wheldon, Coruscent Co. was formed in 2020. The vision and mission of Coruscent Co. is to leave the people, places and products we touch, in better shape than we find them. Coruscent Co. is truly the nascent result of all his years of hard work. Coruscent Co. is capable of many things, including crafting and executing world class events, helping other brands gain the traction they need with consumers and the trade, as well as forging lasting client relationships and international relations.

By way of recognition, Gakuru was welcomed on to the Board of Directors of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, whose mission is to educate, support and advance those working in the spirits industry here in America and around the world.

When he’s not at work, you’ll usually find John Gakuru planning his next scuba diving holiday or sipping a Negroni, Espresso Martini or glass of red wine in one of LA’s great bars. While the world has provided a playground for him to learn and grow in his own industry, these days he’s ultimately excited to be behind-the-scenes of some of America’s most illustrious parties, brands and brand experiences.

John Gakuru Board Member
Skip to content