GSN Alert: USBG Offers Free Membership

60-Day-Recruitment-BannerI’m a proud member of the USBG, the country’s oldest professional association for bartenders. We’re working hard to restore bartending to a respected, viable career choice in the 21st century.

For a limited time, the USBG is offering a very special opportunity: The chance to experience our learning, resources and access to industry leaders will be FREE for 60 days. Hurry, this offer expires March 15th!

This comes at no obligation to you—all you need is an email address. Just click the button below and use registration code “joinusbg” to get started.

Membership includes access to USBGPulse, which serves our community online. On USBGPulse, the USBG’s local leaders, events, learning experiences, and national competitions such as World Class are provided to boost your knowledge, expertise and marketability in bartending.

Elevating the Craft & improving bartenders’ careers is what we’re all about! If this sounds like something you can get on board with, I hope you’ll sign up and join us.

Blair Frodelius – Good Spirits News

Click Here for 60 Day Trial Membership

GSN Review: Spring 2013 Cocktail Guides

51Ciwuu3tDLShake ‘Em Up – A Practical Handbook of Polite Drinking by Virginia Elliott & Phil D. Stong (Tin House Books) Not a “new” book in the sense of the word, but rather a resurrection of a long forgotten prohibition era party guide to house parties.  Imagine if you will, that you are called upon to entertain a number of guests, and that alcohol is hard to come by.  What kind of cocktails could you make?  Yes, the easy and simple kind.  So, you won’t find any obscure recipes that are new to you here; but you will find a wonderful snapshot of upper class American life during 1930.  The introduction by Amy Stewart sets the stage for why this volume is key to any cocktail collection.  Really a nice little book that includes lots of recipes for light party fare, as well as how to properly host parties from sober beginnings to inebriated endings.  GSN Rating: A-

51Ciwuu3tDLDrinking Boston by Stephanie Schorow (Union Park Press)  No, not a post-modern compilation of cocktail recipes from the Boston area; but rather a treatise on drinking in Beantown from pre-revolutionary war days to the 21st century.  Fascinating details on certain cocktails (such as the Ward 8) are liberally sprinkled throughout, as are period photographs of imbibers, bars and advertising.  If you enjoy Ken Burns’ documentaries, this is in a similar vein.  The author draws you in to the stories and makes them seem very contemporary.  Well done, and crucial for historians researching the development of American cocktail culture.  GSN Rating: A

51Ciwuu3tDLCraft Cocktails at Home by Kevin Liu (Self Published)  If you’re like me, you are fascinated by the scientific process behind great cocktails.  Whether it is proper dilution, mouthfeel, how long fresh squeezed citrus will last before going bad, making clear ice, and so on; this book will, if nothing else make you realize that know next to nothing about cocktails.  Really, there is so much to explore here, that you could spend the rest of your life experimenting with the methods and principles contained herein.  It’s not all high-tech, though.  There are interviews with cocktail legends like Dushan Zaric and Jeffrey Morganthaler, as well as plenty of new cocktail recipes putting these techniques into action.  But, perhaps the best aspect of this volume are the many recipes for creating syrups, bitters, tonics and instantly aged spirits (really!).  This gets my vote for best new cocktail book of 2013.  GSN Rating: A++

51Ciwuu3tDLHooch – Simplified Brewing, Winemaking & Infusing at Home by Scott Meyer (Running Press)  Looking to create your own beer, wine and spirits at home?  Look no further.  This book is a primer to get you started on all three, along with cider, mead and infusions.  Although the thought of trying these techniques at home may seem overwhelming, the directions by Mr. Meyer, make it all seem quite simple.   And having made beer, mead and infusions myself, I can vouch for his easy to follow instructions.  Use this book as a primer and then, if you find yourself wanting to expand your repertoire, pick up some more advanced books.  The section on resources is highly recommended.  GSN Rating: B+

51Ciwuu3tDLCocktails – Fancy and Delicious Recipes for all Tastes by Eliq Maranik (H.F. Ullmann)  A coffee table cocktail book with loads of beautiful pictures.  The recipes range from the well-known to the fairly simple modern (Sidecar to Red Bull & Jagermeister).  There’s not a lot of substance here, but there are the usual sections on equipment, glassware, techniques and ingredients.  I suppose this would make a nice book for someone who is somewhat familiar with cocktails and wants to try some new ones.  Otherwise, this makes for a fairly simple, yet beautifully published volume.  GSN Rating: B

51Ciwuu3tDLSanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars by Matt Seiter (Nectar Media Group)  I have to tell you, that I love spiral bound cocktail recipe books.  This one goes a step further by having all the pages in a custom ring binder.  Kind of like those recipe of the month card sets you used to be able to subscribe to in the 1980’s.  Lest you turn your attention elsewhere based on this fact, let me say here that this book is on a par with Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book and Dale DeGroff’s Craft of the Cocktail.  Although it may seem like a novelty, the way this book is designed, is pure genius.  Imagine if you will, that you want to try a new cocktail.  Simply open this book and see what recipe you land on.  No need to prop the book open, it lays there in all of its glory for you to see.  A full color picture, the recipe details, and the story behind the drink.  Oh, did I mention that all of the recipes hail from a single bar in St. Louis?  What sets these drinks apart from the crowd is that most of them call for specific brands of spirits, many of which are micro-distilled and craft-made.  That’s not to say that they are obscure, simply not owned by the major players in the spirits industry. A fun read, as well as a fantastic source of new recipes, this is a must have for cocktail enthusiasts!  GSN Rating: A

1806 Cocktail Book_white_background1806 Cocktails: World History as Seen Through the Bottom of a Glass by Nick Reed and Lisa Kelly (Smudge Publishing)  Not a book, so much as a comprehensive cocktail menu; 1806 Cocktails is the official menu of the 1806 bar in Melbourne, Australia.  Open for a little over five years, they’ve already made a name for themselves the world over.  This book gives a glimpse as to why.  Filled with classics (some familiar, others obscure) arranged by era, you’re guided through the development of drinks in a fun and entertaining way.  Honestly, if you visited the bar and had a few drinks every day starting with the Fish House Punch, and ending up with the Penicillin you’d gain a master’s education in cocktailology.  Plenty of background info on the drinks and the eras they were created in, makes this a fascinating volume to pore over, while the bartender is pouring you a drink.  This book is nigh impossible to find outside of Australia, but if you promise to buy me a drink next time you see me, I’ll tell you where you can obtain one.  🙂  GSN Rating: A-

250px-USBGMasterAccreditationUSBG Master Accreditation Program by the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG)  I’ve been a member of the USBG for several years now, and I can vouch for their credibility and expertise.  I’m always honestly surprised when I talk with full-time bartenders in  major cities who have never heard of the USBG.  The USBG has been helping bartenders “up their game” since 1948, and its members include the creme de la creme of mixologists.  They offer a variety of programs, services and degrees to their members, the most sought after being Master Mixologist certification.  This spring, they finally have produced a book to help bartenders study for this test.  Think of this as a college course in spirits and bartending.  Broken down into sections on alcoholic beverages, bar service, health & safety, liability and yes, cocktail recipes; this book will help you gain a better understanding of what every bartender should, but probably doesn’t know or put into practice.  GSN Rating: A-

imagesCraft Cocktails by Brian Van Flandern (Assouline)  A companion volume to Van Flandern’s previous work “Vintage Cocktails”, this oversized coffee table book focuses on new and original drinks.  Most are credited to the author, but there are others by NYC bartenders from Clover Club, PDT, Death & Co. and Employees Only.  Purely a recipe guide (with spiral binding), there are large full color artful pictures of each drink along with hand-lettered recipes.  Many cocktails call for specific brands and house made ingredients, but this shouldn’t stop you from trying to create these at home.  Over sixty tried and tested drinks will give you a taste of what’s happening in the Big Apple.  GSN Rating: B+

United States Bartenders’ Guild Announces Winners of Tales of the Cocktail® Pina Colada Competition

First Place Judges’ Choice Winner Debbi Peek of Chicago Advances to World Cocktail Competition in Warsaw, Poland

NEW ORLEANS, July 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ –Tales of the Cocktail hosted the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) Pina Colada Competition on July 22, 2011, in New Orleans, challenging 17 of the world’s best bartenders from across the country to create an original version of a Pina Colada recipe. Sponsored by BACARDI Rums and In the Mix Magazine, the event urged participants to take their bar tools and shake up new takes on this classic drink.

This storied cocktail was turned over to finalists representing their respective USBG chapters from the following locations: Austin; Chicago; Cincinnati; Connecticut; Denver; Hawaii; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New Orleans; New York; North Texas; Northern California; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and St. Louis.

Pina Colada Champion Winners:

1st Place Judges’ Choice — Debbi Peek from Chicago created the “No Passport Required”

1st Place People’s Choice — Matt Myers from Las Vegas created the “Thai Pina Colada”

As the first place Judges’ Choice champion, Debbi Peek of Chicago received a one-of-a-kind trophy, along with a check for $1,500 and a spot at the World Cocktail Competition in Warsaw, Poland (compliments of USBG). Debbi’s cocktail, “No Passport Required” was praised for its technical precision and complimentary flavors.

The People’s Choice winner, Matt Myers, Las Vegas received the majority vote of the 550 attendees at the competition and a one-of-a-kind trophy to commemorate the win. Matt’s cocktail, “Thai Pina Colada,” was applauded for its unique presentation — the Thai-inspired cocktail was perfectly paired with spicy cashews to create an ultimate flavor experience.

“The goal of the USBG Pina Colada competition at Tales of the Cocktail was to inspire today’s generation of bartenders to re-imagine this classic cocktail and take it forward into the second golden age of cocktails,” said Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail.  “The winning cocktails had true balance and complexity of flavor and deserve their place in history along side the Original Pina Colada.”

“As the largest network of professional bartenders and mixologists, the USBG was honored to work with BACARDI and In the Mix Magazine on an event that brings together the trade community and celebrates the craft of mixology,” said David Nepove, president, United States Bartenders’ Guild. “The bartenders invited to compete set the standard for the profession across the country and we were thrilled with enthusiasm this group showed using BACARDI rum to reinvent the Piña Colada.”

“In 1862, in the city of Santiago de Cuba, Don Facundo Bacardi revolutionized the spirits industry when he created BACARDI Superior Rum,” said Toby Whitmoyer, vice president and brand managing director of rums at Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.  “Since then, BACARDI has become recognized as the world’s most mixable and sociable spirit, bringing people together around the best cocktails and best experiences.  The Pina Colada is a key part of that legacy and it’s amazing to see these talented bartenders carry that legacy forward with their new takes of this legendary drink.”

Dan Dunn, a.k.a. “The Imbiber,” served as the evening’s host.  The panel of judges featured some of the foremost authorities on cocktails.  Technical judges included: USBG National President David Nepove, USBG National Past President Livio Lauro, and Best Technical Performance at the National 2009 USBG Cocktail Contest winner Ronaldo Colli. Tasting judges included: USBG Vice President Aaron Gregory Smith, BACARDI Brand Master Juan Coronado, BACARDI Brand Master David Cid, BACARDI Global Brand Ambassador David Cordoba and Managing Editor of In the Mix Magazine Mike Maven.

Bartenders were judged according to the following criteria: technical skills and presentation; appearance; aroma; balance of flavors; taste; creativity; and the overall appeal of character. All participants were required to use rum as the base spirit and BACARDI Superior Rum, the original, mixable light-bodied clear rum was preferred. A preliminary group of judges, consisting of members from USBG National and Tales of the Cocktail, voted on the best qualifying round recipes for each chapter.