Membership Has Its BenefitsNovember 3, 2009 By: Tony Abou-Ganim Night Club and Bar Magazine
The Modern Mixologist Makes the Case for Joining USBG
I started tending bar as a second job while pursuing an acting career. Meeting Dale DeGroff in New York in 1993 inspired me, and so I set out to be the best professional bartender I could be and make it my career.
When I moved back to San Francisco and was bartending at Harry Denton’s Starlight room, I looked into organizations that supported my new profession and found the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG); I became a member in 1996. The Guild legitimized my outlook on bartending as a profession, and the existence of a recognized authority within the international fraternity of bartending further strengthened my interest and belief in this craft.
The USBG and its affiliation with the International Bartenders Association (IBA) introduced me to a worldwide community that has recognized bartenders as culinary professionals for more than 100 years. At the time I began tending bar, I only saw chefs, maitre d’s and sommeliers achieve such recognition in this country; since then, USBG has worked tirelessly to change that.
Today, I am a USBG National Ambassador, and I have been instrumental in spreading knowledge about the Guild for many years; my vision is to see a USBG chapter in every state and the creation of the Helen David Memorial Bartender Fund, as well as a bartender exchange program on local, national and international levels. The USBG is a wonderful resource for developing such initiatives that benefit the profession.
There are many types of bars and bartenders, but the USBG is a fraternal organization that embraces the bartending community at large. Any bartender looking to better him or herself and “raise the bar” on his or her own skills, knowledge and professionalism would benefit from being a member.
The Guild also provides the opportunity to gain professional accreditation. Recently, the USBG launched the USBG Master Accreditation testing program, and I am proud to be a founding board member. It is a great vehicle for bartenders in search of legitimate recognition for their knowledge. Setting a goal of taking the three levels of tests gives professional bartenders something to strive and study for, and passage of the test results in an accreditation respected worldwide.
In the future, I envision my profession gaining more and more recognition and bartenders getting better and better at their craft. As a result, bar patrons will be drinking better and developing a new appreciation for a well-crafted cocktail — and the professionals producing them.
Today’s excitement about bartending as a profession is just scratching the surface. Only recently has the profession of bartending achieved recognition in our country, and I’d like to believe that the USBG is actively building the foundation by working with other like-minded people and organizations to make it stronger.
I’m all about anything that elevates our profession, which is why I am proud to be a USBG member. NCB