I had the pleasure of spending two days at the United States Bartender’s Guild South Regional Conference in Orlando Florida. The Guild is a an organization dedicated to improving the professional image of the trade through applied learning and support. I’m honored to be part of an organization that not only promotes a feeling of family, but does so much good for the profession and local communities.
The USBG Orlando Chapter hosted the event. Local President, Paul Johnsen, was an instrumental force of creativity putting together an educational and fun packed conference. The event included daily picks of educational programs, including a learning opportunity from the Mexican Consejo Regulador del Tequila. The fun never stopped, including Bar Crawls, Mash Ups, Dinners, and a Local Craft Beer Tour.
Brad Coburn from the Tampa Bay Chapter began promoting their chapter’s pop up bar the very first night with concert like flyers. Mixologists had the chance to show off their specialty cocktails as guest bartenders at many of the local establishments that support the guild through membership and participation. Mixologists were roaming Orlando armed with well packed professional tools of the trade. Watching chapter members roll into a bar and unpacking their instruments similar to a chef’s knife set, was a true indication of the seriousness of what was about to take place.
Competitions were a nightly occurrence. Mixology contests showcased member’s creativity, personality, and true knowledge of the craft. The first night’s competition included many amazing creations. Local Orlando Chapter member Rudy Mohosky created a cocktail he called the R. Albert 87, named after his favorite “Lost” character. The earthy cocktail’s vegetable makeup included a garden of ingredients such as a Cucumber-Pineapple-Cilantro Cordial, Celery Bitters, and a cilantro leaf. In another competition, my chapter’s V.P., Ford Roberts qualified for the Diageo U.S. Finals in Chicago.
I joined the Jacksonville USBG this year and this was my first Regional Conference. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a great local group of friendly, supportive, fun, and genuine people. I’m proud to be part of the USBG and look forward to meet the other chapters and guilds across the country.
By: Bill Kratsas