USBG

The United States Bartenders’ Guild:

A Bartenders’ Guild for Bartenders

[Below, in this page is included additional information than what was already submitted with my USBG Candidate Form.]

As president of the Washington State chapter of the USBG, I want to thank the previous administrations for taking us to where we are today.  When bartenders get together, what is created is an unmistakably apparent insta-family and it’s time to encourage these relationships.  So, now is the time to move forward from where we are today, making the USBG what it really can and should become – A Bartenders’ Guild For Bartenders.

Having spoken to many of you or the leadership of your guild over the last few months, these conversations have encouraged me to run for President of the USBG, and I ask for your support.  As you read through my platform and have any questions, please do not hesitate to send an e’mail to andrew@libertybars.com, or call me at 206.579.2491.

Four years ago, when we started the Washington State Bartenders’ Guild, we started with a mission to promote community & education for our membership. For the last four years as President, together, our guild has chosen to value education over brand indoctrination and community over competition.  We have a progressive, tight-knit & growing community, and I’d like to work nationally with all of you to help the USBG become a larger extended family and not limited to what some think that has become: marketing blocks for large distributors & liquor companies.

There are four main directions that we’d like to see the USBG move towards in the next few years:

  • Education
  • Community
  • Communication

Education

Here in Washington State, as I imagine in your community also, we hold a higher value for education over brand indoctrination, and I would like to start a program to work between our guild to replicate successful educational events that each of us has done and share these model for these successful events between our guilds.  There’s no reason that we cannot learn from each other’s successes, and education should be one of the first priorities of the USBG.

Community

For many of you who have been able to go to regional and national events where bartenders are able to meet & learn from each other, it becomes unmistakable that THESE are the kinds of events, such as an official Bartender Exchange Program, which will be truly valuable & important for all of us.  I would like to create a framework of connection between our organizations to allow these events to not just happen more often, but to allow for follow-up between members afterwards.

Communication

Right now, inexplicably, there is no organized communication between our guilds.  This is incomprehensible to me, as it obviously is to many of you that I have spoken with, and the first thing that we will work on together is to create this framework for communication between our guilds.  For instance, the Northeast chapters hold regional meetings a number of times a year – this is an outstanding example of what we could do if there were leadership which helped create a framework to promote great ideas like this and have a leadership who will work together to take these kinds of events national.  Immediately, we should have a forum available on the usbg.org website in order to allow all paid members to easily communicate.

In speaking to many of your chapter’s representatives in the last week, it’s become obvious that there are many things which we need to work together to do in order to improve the USBG in the upcoming, two-year term of the next president, so let’s move forward and continue the kinds of actions that our guilds have have taken individually – but this time as a community.

Also, in addition to my already-stated platform of ideas for change for the USBG, I would like to open a discussion on these following issues:

Transparency

As with any growing organization, there has to be leadership to ensure transparency.

Accounting

  • Currently, even though the USBG charter calls for an annual Profit & Loss statement issued to all chapters, there has not been any such document sent out in many years.  But, at the same time, a request went out for a greater income tipped up to USBG National from our member’s dues.  Transparency – in situations such as this one, there needs to be a clear reason WHY the National leadership made that decision, and an argument made for what they will do with the additional income.

Election Operation:

  • Organizations of this size often will hire an outside auditor to ensure election security & transparency.  There’s an inherent conflict of interest related to any current administration being in charge of an election where they are also a candidate.  I would suggest that we move to hire an independent auditor in order to operate our elections in the future in order to eliminate any doubt of the veracity of the election.
  • In order to really give candidates a chance to explain why they should take any of the available positions, I would like to suggest that we discuss how to provide candidates with a greater ability to campaign for the position for which they are running.  Currently, candidates are given just one page which goes out to all of the members in order to explain their opinions & plans, and that is obviously not enough of an opportunity to really express why they are the right person for the job.

Tiered Sponsorship Structure:

  • As the WSBG Sponsorship structure today is designed, only large companies are able to take advantage of the ability to work with our guilds.  I would like to suggest a tiered structure where brands of different sizes have different sponsorship levels to allow for the smaller brands that we love to use to take advantage of our national structure.  Also, I would like to suggest that any Sponsor under the top tier level would be able to specify which markets they would like to become involved with.  Most smaller brands are not available in every market, so it would only make sense to allow them to sponsor only the markets where their products are available.  We could also tip back to the guilds in these markets some of the sponsorship income as an encouragement for guilds to work with brands which they supported.

USBG Growth

  • There are already many under-represented communities of bartenders all over the country who are working to have their own chapters, and we need to give them the tools to form & grow their chapters.  Why have them try to re-create the wheel in this case?

National Committees & Organizational Features:

Each of our guilds have a number of committees that we form in order to accomplish the goals that we set for our communities.  Many have suggested that the USBG forms similar committees to break up the work needed to allow the USBG to progress into a larger, more active, efficient & relevant organization.  For instance:

  • Service.  We are a service industry first & last, and we should make the issue of Service to be a top priority for our members’ education along with proposing these following committees.
  • Education Committee: The USBG should unquestionably be the leader in education for current & future bartenders.  The USBG does have a certification process, but I would suggest that we create multi-level certifications to allow for bartenders of all experience levels to increase their education.
  • Fund Raising Committee: This committee’s importance goes without saying and should be a priority.
  • Regional Leadership Committees:  Already the Northeast has formed their own group which allows them to encourage & operate the kind of communication that we need on a national level.  This type of connection between guilds should become the model for a national plan to streamline the networks between our chapters.
  • International Communications: We all have heard of other bartender guilds all over the world, and we should develop a network to open a direct line of communication with these other chapters to encourage networking & events.
  • Bartender Exchange: There are few better ways to develop the brotherhood of bartenders than to step behind each others’ bars.  We very easily could create a sponsored program to move bartenders around the country and around the world to share ideas & styles.
  • A WSBG.org Forum: It would be very easy to place on our WSBG.org website a forum for greater communication between our members.
  • Job Placement & Career Advancement: As bartenders move around the country, it would help if we had an organized way to help bartenders find great positions in other cities.  Also, many of our members move on from behind our bars to other jobs within our industry.  We should encourage companies to hire our members, and train our members how to expand their options beyond just working behind a bar.

 

Bio

President & Founding Member – Washington State Bartenders’ Guild (2009 – Present)

  • Over the last three+ years, our guild has worked together to create an environment of education, community & cooperation over competition.

Vice President & Founding Member – Washington State Distillers’ Guild (2010 – Present)

  • First having helped the Washington State Legislature create the a bill to all for a WA distillery to operate, the WSDG has since then blossomed to have more licensed distilleries in WA than in any other state.

Owner, Liberty (2006 – Present)

  • With 800+ quality bottles of spirits, we are a scratch bar with a drink list of over 50 house cocktails along with dozens of house-made ingredients.  Liberty is at heart a neighborhood bar and has thankfully won numerous regional & national awards.

Partner, Alcohology

  • Consultancy to help bars improve menu, pricing, service & general operational training.  Additionally Alcohology assists brands to promote well-produced events.

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