GSN Alert: Third Annual Just One Shift – March 16th-22nd, 2015

JustOneShift-Bill-Inserts-orange-red-page-001gaz regan, the bartender previously known as Gary Regan, announces the third annual Just One Shift, which raises funds to fight the water crisis via Wine To Water, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Doc Hendley, an ex-bartender and CNN Hero.

Currently, 800 million people lack access to clean water, and 2.5 billion people lack access to sanitation. Water-related disease kills a child every 21 seconds. Wine To Water is a movement dedicated to providing clean water and sanitation to those in need around the world.

World Water Day is on Sunday, March 22nd, so the 2015 program will kick off on Monday, March 16th and run through that day. During this week, bartenders and servers worldwide are asked to donate all or part of their tips from just one shift.

New this year, the top two donors will have the opportunity to attend an all-expenses-paid Wine to Water service trip to the Dominican Republic on dates of their choosing. These individuals will gain a unique cultural experience while providing clean water to those who need it.

A similar trip will run from August 22-29, 2015, open exclusively to bartenders and servers who participated in Just One Shift 2015. Full information is here.

In a past year, $41,872.67 was raised, which provided clean water to 40,000 people for an entire year. Just One Shift bartenders and servers donated an average of $244.87 each to achieve that figure. Texas Roadhouse was a particularly proud supporter and in 2014 raised more than $19,000 in two weeks at their North Carolina restaurants. “We encourage every restaurant in the country to participate,” urges Kirsten Sands, Regional Marketing Director for Texas Roadhouse. “Our guests and staffs were more than supportive of this initiative, and our North Carolina locations have raised the bar and committed to raise $30,000 more in 2015 starting in the month of March.”

To sign up, please visit Just One Shift; the site maintains a list of participating bars and restaurants sorted by state, as well as a calendar of shifts. At the end of the given shift, the bartender or server makes his or her donation via the honor system, online.

gaz, who has a network of more than 20,000 social media followers, says, “Bartenders and servers have been changing the world via the Just One Shift/Wine to Water campaign for the past few years; they have helped save the lives of thousands of people they’ll never meet. I know for sure that these bartenders and servers will continue to change the world, and hopefully they will encourage their friends in the industry to join them.”

GSN Alert: gaz regan’s “Just One Shift”

image002Bartenders Worldwide Unite from May 12th-18th to Raise Money for Wine to Water

New York / April, 2014:  gaz regan, the bartender previously known as Gary Regan, is pleased to announce the return of Just One Shift, which plans to raise $100,000 for charity in a one-week time period by inviting bartenders worldwide to donate all or part of their tips from just one shift.

The 2014 program will take place Monday, May 12 through Sunday, May 18; the first shift kicks off at 7 p.m. on May 12th at The Dead Rabbit in NYC’s Financial District where gaz will be a special guest bartender.  All earnings are given to Wine to Water, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Doc Hendley, ex-bartender and CNN Hero from North Carolina.

In 2013, its inaugural year, 327 bartenders in 34 countries participated, raising $40,000. The charity reports this amount can save 40,000 people from death due to water-borne illness for a full year.  Specifically in Uganda, $40,000 can provide 10,000 people with clean water for 10 years.

The first step to joining forces with some of the country’s finest individuals is for bartenders to sign up on the Just One Shift site which will maintain a running list of participating bars sorted by state, as well as a calendar of shifts.  At the end of the given shift, the bartender will personally make the donation online.  If unable to attend any of the listed shifts, anyone may make a donation online.

gaz, who has a network of over 20,000 social media followers, says, “Bartenders can change the world and last year’s success has proved it. If we meet this year’s goal I will shave my head.”

For more information, please visit http://www.justoneshift.com and http://www.facebook.com/gaz-regan; @gazregan will also tweet; refer to the hashtag #justoneshift.

GSN Review: Spring 2014 Cocktail Guides

 It’s a few weeks into spring already, but it’s never too late to pick up some new cocktail guides!  The following books arrived at the GSN headquarters since the beginning of the year.

  4d0276f176a6987fa38983241f0ddf88dc64416b_600The Dead Rabbit Mixed Drinks List (2nd Edition)  If you think it’s crazy to buy a cocktail menu that doesn’t contain any actual recipes, you’d be dead wrong.  This completely new volume indeed highlights many of the featured cocktails you can order at NYC’s triple Spirited Award winning bar.  But, it’s oh so much more than that.  You get a short graphic novel about the life of John Morrissey, the original leader of Ireland’s Dead Rabbit gang, and an alcoholic history lesson.  Entirely two-thirds of the book is devoted to the amazing success story of Irish Whiskey written by award-winning spirits author, Dave Broom.  Lastly, and the icing on the cake as it were, is an essay by Barry Crockett, master distiller of Midleton Distillery where many of the fine whiskies are made today.  GSN Rating: A- Buy a copy here.

  indexgaz regan’s Annual Manual for Bartenders 2013 by Gary Regan (Mixellany)  The third in an ongoing series of books dedicated to helping the working bartender.  Again, with this volume there are not a lot of cocktail recipes (see below for gaz’s other annual series 101 Best New Cocktails for those).  The 2013 manual does not disappoint, and in my opinion is the best of the bunch as gaz has collected dozens of down-to-earth and thought-provoking interviews from both bartenders and bar backs from around the globe.  gaz of course, has his say as well in his choice of editorial direction.  This year he focuses on Mindful Bartending (a favorite of his), women in the industry and detailed studies of some often overlooked ingredients in cocktails.  This book makes for easy and breezy reading, but is filled with invaluable tricks of the trade.   GSN Rating: A- Purchase here.

indexgaz regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails Volume III by Gary Regan (Mixellany)  The third in an ongoing series devoted to cutting edge cocktails from around the globe.  gaz has a tough job.  Every bartender with a dream of stardom sending him their best recipes hoping that he will choose theirs for inclusion.  I asked him once how he manages to taste them all.  He told me that he doesn’t.  First he reads the recipes and sees if they sound interesting.  He then tries the ones that tickle his fancy.  This latest volume includes full color photographs of each drink, along with the recipe and notes by both the creators and gaz himself.  If you want to check the pulse of what’s happening in the cocktail world, look no further than this concise and approachable volume.  GSN Rating: A  Buy a copy here.

  20131001_102455_138330149557Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff Berry (Cocktail Kingdom)  Jeff Berry has a talent for giving his readers history lessons that are both educational and entertaining.  With his latest 300+ page volume, he has totally outdone everything he’s ever done before.  Literally every page is dripping with amazing discoveries, photographs and recipes that you will find it hard to put down.  It’s almost as if you are watching the history of what are collectively known as “tiki drinks” unfold in a “Mad Men” type way.  If you have any interest in either rum, punch, tropical libations or even just the history of alcoholic commerce, you need this book.  Oh, and there are 35 previously unpublished recipes in here for those of you (like myself) who need to try everything.  GSN Rating: A++ Pick up a copy here.

indexForgotten Drinks of Colonial New England by Corin Hirsch (American Palate)  This fascinating book is almost a prelude to David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!”, filling the reader in on the drinking customs and recipes of early Americans.  The fact that no one has written a book like this before is of note.  Perhaps it has to do with both the American Revolution and the desire to lose the traditions of England, along with the sense of American ingenuity in creating new things to drink.  That being said, any bartender worth his salt would do well to read this book in order to understand the flavor profiles of what were in a real sense proto-cocktails.  The names of these drinks themselves are a mouthful: Calibogus, Ebulum, Syllabub, and my personal favorite, Whistle-Belly Vengeance.  Granted, some of these recipes don’t sound that great, but luckily for us, many of them have been modernized so they are palatable.  A healthy dose of historical data is also of benefit for those of us who desire to know the evolution of our country’s libations.  GSN Rating: A-  Purloin your own tome here.

indexThe Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level by Dinah Sanders (Sanders & Gratz)  Where has this book been all my life?  For those of us who love to sample as many cocktails as we can when visiting a new bar, unfortunately there comes a point where the alcohol wins. With this well researched and beautifully produced hardcover, not only do you get an array of fantastic recipes from 21st century world-class bartenders, but a salient selection of recipes from the annals of cocktailian history.  Each page portrays the drink in an artfully shot photograph along with where the recipe hails from and notes on suggested brands of ingredients.  A particularly helpful inclusion are sections on cocktails defined by mood, kind, era, and ingredients.  If nothing else, this book will help save your liver.  GSN Rating: A+  Get a copy here.

GSN Alert: 2013 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award Winners

index

Here’s a list of the winners from this year’s Spirited Awards extravaganza.  Congratulations to everyone!

American Bartender of the Year: Charles Joly

Best American Brand Ambassador: Todd Richman

Best American Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, Brooklyn

Best Bar Mentor: Julie Reiner

Best Cocktail Writing: gaz Regan

Best Cocktail Writing (Publication): DiffordsGuide.com

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar: Clover Club, NYC

Best Hotel Bar: Nomad Hotel

Best International Bartender: Jack McGarry, Dead Rabbit

Best International Brand Ambassador: Jacob Briars

Best New Cocktail Bar: Dead Rabbit, NYC

Best New Cocktail Book: Drink by Tony Conigliaro

Best New Product: Ford’s Gin

Best Restaurant Bar: Saxon and Parole

World’s Best Cocktail Bar: Drink, Boston

World’s Best Cocktail Menu: The Dead Rabbit

World’s Best Drink Selection: Canon, Seattle

The Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award: Salvatore Calabrese

GSN Alert: gaz regan Debuts “Just One Shift”

justoneshiftNew York / January, 2013:  gaz regan, the bartender previously known as Gary Regan, is pleased to announce Just One Shift (www.justoneshift.com), a plan to raise a quarter million dollars for charity in a one-week time period by inviting bartenders worldwide to donate all or part of their tips from just one shift.  The beneficiary will be Wine to Water (www.winetowater.org), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by a bartender, that focuses on providing clean water to needy people worldwide.

The 2013 program is scheduled for Monday, April 8 through Sunday, April 14.  Any company may purchase logo placement on JustOneShift.com; 100% of those proceeds will go to the charity.  Consumers can support the program by attending the noted shifts and tipping generously.  Or, anyone may make an on-line donation.  gaz’s social media following is over 20,000 members, and the aim is to engage 2,500 bartenders, with each being able to raise $100, in order to reach the $250,000 mark.

As explained by gaz, “This idea was borne of one of my favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama, which in fact had been my email signature line for years:  ‘The capacity to devote yourself to the welfare of others yields otherwise unobtainable … potential for good,’ which is exactly how I would like to use my network.  For years I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen that bartenders can change the world and together with Doc Hendley, the ex-bartender who founded Wine to Water, we’re about to prove it.”

The first step is for bartenders to sign up at http://www.justoneshift.com, which will maintain a running list of participating bars sorted by city, as well as a calendar of shifts.  At the end of the given shift, the bartender will personally make the donation on-line, via www.winetowater.org/justoneshift.

For more information, please visit www.justoneshift.com and www.facebook.com/gaz-regan; @gazregan will also Tweet.  For Tweeters, please hashtag #justoneshift.

GSN at Tales 2012 – Lesson Three (Be Here Now)

On opening night of Tales, I had the opportunity to chat for awhile with Gary “gaz” Regan.  We were both on a bus taking a group of Tale-ies (not the same as those on the TV series “Lost”) to a gigantic party hosted by William Grant & Sons at the New Orleans Museum of Art.  gaz and I see eye to eye on a lot of things besides bartending.  One of them is what he calls “mindfulness”.  To bring the concept down to just one sentence, it could be summarized as “Live in the moment”.  It sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s not easy to put into practice.  Just think of how much of our lives are spent living in the past or the future.

Some examples that I’m sure a lot of bartenders can relate to:

That jerk of a customer or boss who set you off, and even hours later is still affecting your mood for the rest of your day.  Living in the past of the moment they sent negative energy into your life, and instead of moving beyond it, you absorbed it.

Or, you have a job interview, cocktail contest or seminar you have to present, and the thought of what might go wrong makes you obsess to the point of where you inevitably will not perform at your best.  Living out your fears of the future.

By living in the present on the first night of Tales (gaz said to me at one point, “It doesn’t get any better than this, Blair”) we were both experiencing all that life had to offer.  We weren’t shortchanging our lives in the regrets of what we did or didn’t do in the past or worrying about what we needed to do in the future.

With an event like Tales of the Cocktail, there are literally hundreds of options offered at any given time for spirits enthusiasts.  Don’t worry if you can’t make all of the seminars, or don’t meet all of the “bar stars” you’d hope to, or even make all of the parties.  Because in the end, it’s all about appreciating where you are at any given time.  Be there now, to paraphrase one of gaz’s favorite philosophers.

GSN Review: Winter 2009 Cocktail Guides

Lots of great cocktail, spirits & mixology books came out this last year.  Here are my top recommendations.
The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits: An Enthusiasts Guide to the Artisan Distilling of Potent Potables by Bill Owens & Alan Dikty
Not only a beautiful book, but an extremely informative one for anyone interested in the history and current methods of distillation.  (And who among us, isn’t?)
the bartender’s GIN compendium by Gaz Regan
Think you know everything there is to know about this sublime spirit?  Think again.  Gary Regan has filled this tome with virtually every minutiae about gin and then some.  Plus, a handy guide on difficult to find gins.
Diffordsguide Cocktails 8 (Diffords Guide) by Simon Difford
You may love or hate Simon Difford, but you have to agree that if nothing else, he is thorough in his cocktail recipe collections.  It’s no wonder he’s on volume 8.  Each year he adds several hundred new recipes from around the globe.
The Essential Bartender’s Guide by Robert Hess
This is really quite essential.  Written for a beginner, but full of recipes for the advanced mixologist as well.  A handy reference guide that I pull out ALL OF THE TIME.  Nice one, Robert!
The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale Degroff
So, what’s the difference between this book and the previous volume?  This is the Cadillac of cocktail books.  Not only is it full of beautiful photographs, but the writing is engaging.  Dale manages to make you feel like you’re sharing a drink with him.  Simply an amazing achievement.
Food & Wine 2009 Cocktail Guide by Food & Wine Magazine
You might think this slim volume is lacking depth, but you’d be wrong.  The guide holds more information than you think about glassware, the latest cocktail trends, and the up and coming bars around the US.  Well worth the few bucks it costs.
The Mixellany Guide to Gin by Geraldine Coates
What?!?  Another guide to gin?  Isn’t one enough?  Unfortunately for your wallet, the answer is no.  Geraldine’s book makes a perfect match to Gaz Regan’s prosaic levity by remaining fairly serious, but not in an academic way.
Mixologist: The Journal of the European Cocktail, Volume 3 by Jared Brown & Anastasia Miller
I continue to be amazed at the prolific output by Jared & Anastasia.  Their research continually enlightens and delights.  This volume studies the history of cocktails and mixology in Europe.  Great stuff!
Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-be by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen
This book is worth it’s weight in gold for anyone who has tended bar at a party where some guests don’t want alcohol, but also don’t want a soda.  Natalie has compiled a fantastic selection of easy to make non-alcoholic cocktails that taste amazing.  Not only for expectant mothers.Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink by Jared Brown & Anastasia Miller
If there was a worthy successor to David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!”, this would be it.  The entire history of fermented beverages around the world.  I think this would make a great BBC series, guys!

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie
100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them
by Ted Haigh
Technically, this book was published five years ago and isn’t a new title.  However, the upgrade really makes it invaluable.  More cocktails, more photos of rare spirits and ephemera, more history and more resources in the back.  The only disappointment, if it could be called one, is that you will catch Ted’s bug to track down the unusual ingredients most of these drinks call for.

Also, you can’t go wrong with any of the reprints of rare cocktail books published by Mud Puddle Books or the guides put out by Mixellany Ltd. Both of these publishers are doing a huge service to the cocktail community by reprinting long out of print (and out of price range) copies of seminal cocktail guides.  If you want to understand the history of what you do behind the stick, grab these books and prepare to be enlightened.