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+

GSN Alert: Hottest Wine, Spirits, Beer & Cocktail Trends for 2013

WhatsHot2013WordCloud_AlcoholThe National Restaurant Association surveyed professional bartenders, members of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, on which wine, spirits, beer and cocktails will be hot trends on drink menus in 2013. The “What’s Hot in 2013 Alcohol” survey was conducted in the fall of 2012 among nearly 200 bartenders, including myself.

Download a pdf of the results HERE.

GSN Alert: The USBGNY Seeks the First-Ever Pamalympian

NEW YORK (October 10, 2012) – The world may have to wait four more years for the Olympics in Rio, but the New York Chapter of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild, in partnership with PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, re-ignites the torch and continues the Games with the first-ever PAMALYMPICS. On Monday, October 29, three finalists from the New York area will have their taste buds challenged, their ingenuity tested and will have to show they can draw a crowd of admirers.

WHO: James Menite, Crown Restaurant; Doug Miller, Culinary Institute of America; Joshua Perez, Booker & Dax

WHAT: This competition won’t test a finalist’s physical abilities, but will see if they can tastethe Gold by writing out the recipes of three PAMA cocktails in a blind tasting, get creative with a mystery ingredient and prove they’re the fan favorite after serving their qualifying cocktail to an audience of voters.

WHEN: Monday, October 29, 2012, 4:00-6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Demi Monde, 90 Broad Street, New York City

PRIZE: The Gold Medalist will receive $5,000; Silver Medalist will receive $2,000; Bronze Medalist will receive $1,000

JUDGES: Eben Freeman, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur Brand Spokesperson; Reid Hafer, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur Senior Brand Manager; Brian Quinn, Cocktail Columnist

USBG and Diageo World Class Welcome the United States to the Largest International Cocktail Program

NEW YORK, April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Combine two parts wisdom and one part charm, add a dash of hospitality and garnish with a friendly smile – this is the recipe for a great bartender. Beginning April 4, 2012, Diageo will honor bartenders and mixologists by debuting the renowned Diageo World Class program in the United States in conjunction with the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG).This unique, international cocktail training program will champion the art of the crafted cocktail and name one talented bartender the first-ever World Class U.S. Ambassador, who will represent the United States at the Diageo World Class Global Final in Brazil this coming July.

“Diageo has always been committed to the professional and educational development of bartenders and mixologists around the globe,” said Mark Schulte, Diageo’s Senior Vice President of Customer Marketing. “We are extremely excited to strengthen this long lasting relationship with the trade by working with the USBG to extend the Diageo World Class program to the United States.”

To participate, hopeful bartenders and mixologists will register at and complete three online educational modules enriching their skills and knowledge of the culinary art of the cocktail. The modules will launch on April 4, 2012, focusing on the history of classic and innovative recipes experienced both behind and in front of the bar. These educational studies will cover topics such as Classics with a Twist, Asian Influences and Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Drinks. Participants will also use their newly acquired knowledge to submit an original cocktail recipe and instructional video featuring premium spirits from the Diageo Reserve portfolio, including Ketel One® Vodka, Ciroc® Vodka, Tanqueray® No. TEN Gin, Be World Class. Always Mix Responsibly. © 2012 Diageo, Norwalk, CT. Zacapa® Rum, Bulleit® Bourbon, Johnnie Walker® Blended Scotch Whisky and Tequila Don Julio®.

To ignite the spirit of program, the USBG, along with World Class U.S. will host a series of six events across the country. From April 23 through May 15, 2012, renowned mixologist and Tanqueray Global Ambassador Angus Winchester will travel to Houston, Miami, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and New York to recruit bartenders and inform potential participants about the international program. Additionally, Winchester will use his industry expertise to judge participants’ cocktail recipe submissions and select 20 mixologists to compete in the program’s final challenge.

Following Winchester’s selections, World Class U.S. will culminate with a final event on June 19, 2012, in New York City. In conjunction with the USBG, the event will consist of the chosen finalists, who will partake in four cocktail challenges administered and judged by leading cocktail luminaries from across the industry. Participating luminaries include leading bar professional Tony Abou-Ganim, top mixologist and author Jim Meehan, cocktail and culinary expert Steve Olson and leading cocktail personality Julie Reiner, who will judge contenders based on the knowledge they attained from the Diageo World Class educational modules. Additionally, cocktail legends and Global World Class gurus Dale DeGroff and Gary Regan will award the winner with the prestigious honor and opportunity to hold the title of World Class U.S. Ambassador.

“Diageo World Class is the most prestigious cocktail program in the world, and I’m privileged to help initiate the effort in the United States,” said Angus Winchester. “It’s going to be a captivating experience watching the nation’s top mixologists honor the culture of cocktails through the knowledge, skills and appreciation they’ve acquired throughout the program. We just ask that everyone celebrate their craft responsibly.”

In addition to being skilled behind the bar, a World Class bartender gives back to others. To instill this value, Diageo World Class U.S. will make a donation to The Museum of the American Cocktail, which seeks to advance the mixology profession and increase consumer knowledge.

Be World Class. Always Mix Responsibly. © 2012 Diageo, Norwalk, CT.

For additional information and to register for the program, visit Join the conversation by following @WorldClassUS on Twitter, use the hashtag #CocktailChallenge and visit

Tales of the Cocktail® Announces Competitors for Official United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) Piña Colada Competition

Tales of the Cocktail® is proud to announce the lineup of competitors for the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) BACARDÍ Piña Colada Competition sponsored by BACARDÍ® Rum and In the Mix Magazine.

The competition will take place 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 22 at The Foundry (333 Saint Joseph St.) during the 2011 Tales of the Cocktail®, the premier cocktail and culinary festival that celebrates the history and culture of dining and drinking, held in New Orleans July 20 to 24, 2011.

From humble beginnings at a hotel bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1954, the Piña Colada has become the flavor of the islands whether you’re on one or just wish you were. Now, this storied will be re-mashed by some of the country’s best bartenders who will present new takes on this classic cocktail with one thing remaining the same – BACARDÍ – the rum this legendary cocktail was created with.

Eighteen competitors from USBG chapters across the country will try to shake their way to victory with their original BACARDÍ Piña Colada recipes.  Cocktails will be reviewed by an esteemed panel of technical and tasting judges who will select one “judges’ choice” champion of the Piña Colada, while the more than 400 attendees at the competition will cast their vote for the “people’s choice” winner.  Both champions will be announced at the competition on Friday, July 22.

The USBG will award each champion a one-of-a-kind trophy and the judge’s choice champion will receive a check for $1,500.00 and a spot at the World Cocktail Competition in Warsaw, Poland, compliments of USBG.

This year’s technical judges will include: 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.

This year’s tasting judges are: USBG Vice President Aaron Gregory Smith, BACARDI Rum Brand Master Juan Coronado, BACARDI Rum Brand Master David Cid, , BACARDI Rum Global Brand Ambassador David Corodoba, and Managing Editor of In the Mix Magazine Mike Raven.

This year’s finalists representing their respective USBG chapters and their cocktails include:

Atlanta Ava Kopieczek – Thaiwanese Breeze

Austin Bill Norris – My Thai Colada

Chicago Debbi Peek – No Passport Required

Cincinnati Joseph DeLuca – Escape

Connecticut Anthony DeSerio – PinaGuana Colada

Denver Adam Hodak – 25ème Heure

Hawaii Sam Treadway – Killer Fizz

Las Vegas Matt Meyers – Thai Pina Colada

Los Angeles Naomi Schimek – Havana Au Go Go

Miami Ezra Pattek – If You Like Making Love at Midnight

Milwaukee Katie Rose – Annapurna Colada

New Orleans Chris Hannah – Piña Cafe’Olait

New York Abigail Gullo – Dunes of the Cape

North Texas Chris Furtado – Caramelized Colada

Northern California Kate Bolton – Death in Paradise

Philadelphia Marc Yanga – Avec Plaisir P.C.

Phoenix Tyson Buhler – Cofresi’s Swizzle

St. Louis Justin Cardwell – The Pineapple White Wash