The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2018

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Page 22 of 100

22  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2018 SIN CITY Sips A mong its myriad blessings in all things spirits-related, Las Vegas just hap- pens to serve as the national headquarters of the United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG). It's no surprise, then, that the city's local chapter was thrilled to welcome officers and members from all over the Southwest to a recent regional gathering at SLS Hotel & Casino. While the main focus of the annual conference is to gather chapter leaders in the same room to share their best practices with national leadership, there were also plenty of opportunities for both education and recreation—this being Las Vegas—to warm everyone up before the attendees got down to guild business. The conference brought out the big names for its seminar lineup, which included a sweet honey immersion by Kim Haasarud of Liquid Architecture; two beer classes by Guinness Brewery Ambassador David Schroeder; a session presented by Patricia Richards, a member of the USBG Health & Wellness Committee, titled "Overcoming the Dark Side of the Bar" with guests Nectaly Mendoza and Giuseppe González of Herbs and Rye; and "No Italy, No Cocktail," a study of the European country's con- siderable contributions to bartending presented by Tad Carducci of New York–based beverage consultancy The Tippling Bros. Applause turned into a prolonged standing ovation for USBG Co-Founder and past National President Jose Ancona (also formerly the International Bartenders Association Vice President–North America) during the Liquid Legacy presentation. Unofficial guild historian Livio Lauro, also a former National President, appeared alongside local chapter Co-Founders Bobby "G" Gleason, Tony Abou-Ganim, and Francesco Lafranconi, while brand-sponsored visits to Sparrow + Wolf, The Sand Dollar Lounge, Evel Pie, Gold Spike, and Flock & Fowl kept everyone well-fed. On the final night of the conference, the USBG group merged with the Southwest and Midwest regional finalists of the World Class Bartender of the Year competition, sponsored by Diageo, for a Spirited Storytelling dinner at Fleur by Hubert Keller. They then headed to another Mandalay Bay venue, Abou-Ganim's Libertine Social, where it was announced which six bartenders would move on to the nationals at Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, June 5–6: Alexis Mijares of Austin, Texas; Justin Ware and Ryan Perry of Houston, Texas; Trevor Scovel of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Katie Renshaw of Chicago, Illinois; and Casey Miller of Ann Arbor, Michigan. And since no USBG gathering could be held without a proper Negroni, new reggae-inspired cocktail bar Jammyland served the drinks on its gloriously sunny patio in the Arts District. The venue was both the start and finish line of a charitable bike ride 35 guild members took through historic Downtown Las Vegas, raising $5,750 for the Helen David Relief Fund—a nonprofit that provides support to women in the bar industry who have been diagnosed with breast cancer—before journeying back home. PHOTO: SHANNON STURGIS All Together Now Meet the 2018 Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year finalists from the Southwest and Midwest regions: Ryan Perry, Justin Ware, Trevor Scovel, and Katie Renshaw (back row); and Alexis Mijares and Casey Miller (front row). Founding Fathers: United States Bartenders' Guild Co-Founder Jose Ancona (center) was welcomed by Las Vegas chapter Co-Founders Bobby "G" Gleason, Livio Lauro, Tony Abou-Ganim, and Francesco Lafranconi. PHOTO: SUSIE OSZUSTOWICZ LAS VEGAS ROLLS OUT THE RED CARPET FOR USBG MEMBERS AND DIAGEO WORLD CLASS HOPEFULS by Xania V. Woodman

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