USBG News: New Chapters and Membership Growth
The USBG is currently in 14 markets around the country, up from five markets just three short years ago. “As a non-profit with a small national office and limited financial resources, it is amazing the way the USBG has grown over the past three years,” says Liz Edwards, who runs USBG’s Las Vegas-based national office. “Interest in the USBG has spread by word of mouth among bartenders in communities all over the states who have realized it is beneficial to band together to join our national network.” The USBG offers its members educational resources that may not be available to them otherwise: Master Distillers & Blenders make their rounds from chapter to chapter conducting spirit tastings and product knowledge seminars; world-renowned mixologists and bartenders visit our chapters and judge our cocktail competitions, pushing our members to be more creative and inspiring them with up and coming trends; international brands introduce new products to our members to get the word out. In addition, the USBG gives its members a great way to get involved in their community, and local chapters have contributed to some amazing charities all over the country and even started some of their own charities over the years. These are all benefits of being a member of a national organization with national goals and resources.
Over the past two years, the rapid growth of our membership has posed some administrative hurdles for us, however. With only one person manning the national office as a part-time employee and the elected officers being all over the country, it was difficult to manage the new members joining and all the new chapter requests. Livio Lauro, National President, took on the task of opening new chapters and has opened four just this year: Miami, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Hawaii. It is a lot of work to open a chapter and it can take several months to do so, but it is very exciting to see so many people interested in so many unique markets. Dallas is next to come on board and should be instated this month; Atlanta, Boston and Cincinnati chapters are in the process of forming, as well. We recently hired a Membership Director to manage our membership for us and are very excited to get organized in that regard, too. Our members have been very patient throughout our growth spurts and we are all excited about the positive changes a larger, more active membership will bring.
Please visit usbg.org for information on how to join our organization.
The USBG Master Accreditation Program
What’s the Latest?
The USBG remains a non-profit organization with its main focus being education for our members and the guests they serve every day. The USBG Master Accreditation Program is gearing up for its official launch to the masses in 2010. The soft launch of the Master Accreditation Program this year in our chapter cities was very successful and well received. We have more than 50 graduates who have passed level one to become USBG Spirits Professionals. The test has proven to be difficult and I think our members realized that there is still studying to do! The goal of the program is to bring the bartender up to a higher level of knowledge, and although this may take some time and a couple of re-taken tests along the way, our members seem up to the challenge, which is not surprising given their dedication to their craft. The true test will be when we test the “general population” of non-USBG bartenders next year. It will be interesting to see how well-versed bartenders are all over the country.
We will post new test dates soon and will upload our tests online after the first of the year for bartenders everywhere to give it a go. Being able to take the test online will be a great and convenient way for bartenders to move through the MA Program. After the controlled testing in our chapter cities and hard work from the MA Board of Directors, we are ready to make the program accessible to all who want to reach a new level of achievement and recognition in 2010.