1/9/2017 Roundtable,  by Wendy Hodges & Adam Rains, photos by Tricia McLeod

It was a great way to start the year…

We began our first Roundtable with opening statements from the new council. Each member introduced themselves and told the members a little about where their background lies, where they work, and what their goals are in their roles.


Raul then discussed the different committees and their roles. In addition to the council’s elected roles, each member is also responsible for certain committees.

Raul Faria- President- Health and Wellness Committee
* Currently looking for 2 members to run this committee
* They will plan BiAnnual events for the members

Mike Doyle- Vice President- Education Committee
* Currently looking for 2 members to run this committee
* Plan non branded educational events for the chapter

Wendy Hodges-Secretary- Membership Engagement Committee
* Caio Fuganholi is the chairperson and we need one more person to assist
* Responsible for recruitment of new mixers, engage with current members, and plan new member mixer

Jason Gordon- Treasurer- Fundraising Committee
*Lillian Hargrove is the chairperson and we need one more person to assist.

Raul then discussed the different committees and their roles. In addition to the council’s elected roles, each member is also responsible for certain committees.

Raul Faria- President- Health and Wellness Committee
* Currently looking for 2 members to run this committee
* They will plan BiAnnual events for the members

Mike Doyle- Vice President- Education Committee
* Currently looking for 2 members to run this committee
* Plan non branded educational events for the chapter

Wendy Hodges-Secretary- Membership Engagement Committee
* Caio Fuganholi is the chairperson and we need one more person to assist
* Responsible for recruitment of new mixers, engage with current members, and plan new member mixer

Jason Gordon- Treasurer- Fundraising Committee
*Lillian Hargrove is the chairperson and we need one more person to assist.

Addition committees: Social Media Committee headed by Adam Rains and Tricia Mcleod
Opportunities Committee headed by Xania Woodman. We need one more person to assist her. Great opportunity to intern and learn from Xania


~Raul told the attending members about the USBGLV Cocktail Competition.
– 3 heats
*1st round Blind judging of online submissions. Cocktail based on “What does Vegas mean to you”
*2nd round Groups of 3 put together randomly for team rounds
*3rd round IBA Technical judging and 1 hour of actual bartending for 10-15 people. During technical the contestant will make the submitted cocktail and during the hospitality round the will create a menu based on the portfolio provided. The menu
must contain one of each: aperitif, long drink, spirit forward, dessert, and dealers choice.

~Arizona Cocktail Week!!!
*We are doing the Road To Slinger party bus down to Arizona Cocktail week. The whole slinger team and a few extra members will be provided transportation. When / If extra seats become available, the chapter will be informed and seats will be released
on a first come first serve basis.
*ALL members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Each member is responsible for their own transportation, lodging and food.
*ALL seminars and sponsored events during Arizona Cocktail Week are FREE.
*DATES: Friday, February 17th – Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

~Introduced Brown Forman Representative Jackie Brod. She is your go to person for all things whiskey!!!

~RAFFLE to support Opportunity Village
*We raised a total of $430 during our first roundtable of the year! Great start for our new charity Opportunity Village!



Woodford Reserve:

In 1797, Elijah Pepper began making whiskey in The WoodFord County Courthouse utilizing the pure limestone rich water of Glenn’s Creek. This was considered the “cradle of Bourbon” and is where the “sour mash” technique was perfected and the benefits of using charred oak barrels for aging were celebrated.

2003 the newly named Woodford Reserve Distillery is where the magic  happens and is where there three Scottish-Made copper stills reside.

Being completely forthwith in the world of whiskey is not only a given, but the people at Woodford are very willing to share their process. We learned the secrets of their mash bill which contains, 72%  CORN  |  18%
The amount of time and method of fermentation was also discussed (5 to 7 days in small cypress wood tanks).

The distillery uses  three 16ft stills that are heated by steam injections until it reaches 79% ABV (just 1% under the legal limit). The spirit then goes into medium charred oak barrels and is diluted to 55% ABV.


Within the limestone warehouse, the spirit is aged (6-7 years) and bottled at 45.2% ABV.

All that attended where happy to enjoy the knowledge as well as the cocktails served by our vice-president, Micheal Doyle!


The Woodford’s Reserve Manhattan Experience is coming. Get in your entries ASAP and see our official Facebook page for more details.


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On November 4th, we celebrated the founding of our chapter with the Salute to 15! Many of our newer members, former counsel, along with the founding fathers looked at the history of our the Las Vegas USBG chapter. The now legendary original members, Livio Lauro, Bobby Gleason, and Tony Abou-Ganim helped bring us back to the beginning of the chapter and while gazing toward the future!

In the scope of human history, 15 years may not be a lot, but for the local F&B scene it has meant worlds of change. Vegas has long been a beverage epicenter where mass quantities have been consumed. It is a 24 hour no-holds-barred town and a party capital with a vast infrastructure built to get people booze fast.

While we had all of those things and including one of the most prolific flair scenes anywhere, there was something missing. The beverage renaissance that had been well under way in other cities had not quite taken hold here. We just needed a spark.

Then entered the USBG…
Along with the prevolent cultural shifts, the United States Bartenders Guild was a key factor in helping spawn our beverage movement. After its inception in 1948, it has spread all over the country with the tenant of reinvigorating our profession. In Las Vegas, it has done just that.

Kristen Schaefer is a longtime bartender & USBG member, current Absolut Elyx ambassador, and the President of our Las Vegas. She is a consummate advocate to the benefits of the guild and she explained “From a social standpoint  It looks like many of our members have met new lifetime friends thanks to the guild. From a hospitality standpoint the guild is a motivator for its members and therefore raises the bar.”

The event was there to celebrate that spark. It was held at the new location of Nora’s, which has long been a beacon for finely made drinks and food. Being there, we were all reminded of how far we have come and where we can go.

Many of the founding fathers that have helped shape and inspire us, were there to revel in the moment. Our new USBGLV logo was unveiled, showing the iconic skyline & our new motto, “hospitality first” and members had the opportunity to purchase pins, shirts & the now infamous  Fernet coin.

The culmination of the event was a toast and the burying of our first ever Time Capsule! The Time Capsule was buried in the front of Nora’s and will remain underground until November 1, 2031 (15 years). The time capsule contained our current member list, a copy of the very first minutes from the first meeting, photos, cocktail menus, love notes and work cards.

In 15 years, we will rejoin with past and then current 2031 members to unveil what was encapsulated. There will be many cocktails, a lot of food and even more stories to be had; it will be a part of USBG history!

Kristen Schaefer, our now outgoing president, spoke to it’s significance, “It was little surreal. I didn’t quite realize the magnitude of what was happening until it was happening. We made history that day. For all of us, it was pretty powerful.

Looking ahead we have much to be excited about. We have more products, access to knowledge and desire to do it right, then we ever have. Our city is at the precipice but we must keep moving forward.

Founding father, Livio Laurio had this to say, “We will continue to set the bar for the nation. The hospitality of our bartender members and the service provided to guests are just as good as any other major city; but Vegas displays an unmatched level of humility and positive attitude.”

Kristen expounded on this point, “I am proud of our city and the camaraderie it has built over the past few years. We still have a ways to go, but as someone who travels a lot, there is no city in the world that compares to Las Vegas when it comes to passion, encouragement of each other and a yearning to be the best! I have no doubt that the fire has been sparked and the new council will continue to feed the flame. They are already proving that with their plans for AZCW and Slinger. I am excited to see what comes next!”

While it was a truly amazing day and it was a great chance to look back at where we were and where we are going. It gave us a chance to reflect and give thanks, pay homage to our forefathers.

With the sun shining in the Western sky, we could feel the connection to the great lineage. The founding members, former and current counsels have all been an inspiration to us. I want to thank all of the members for making our chapter great and especially for the council who have given their blood, sweat and tears to the guild and to our profession. Kristen, Raul, Cody and Adam have made us all proud! And cheers to all members past, current and future, and to the passion that lies within! We will see you at the Holiday party!



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Dear USBGLV Members,

We’re riding on October 31 in Las Vegas to support all the strong women and their families who are fighting breast cancer. The Las Vegas ride will start at 11am and finish at Honey Salt In Summerlin and take you for an amazing ride through Red Rock. Everybody is welcome to join, so get your friends and family to join you on the ride! Support The Helen David Relief Fund and the riders here: www.crowdrise.com/TAGrides. https://lnkd.in/emya6-


Tony Abou-Ganim

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On July 29th, the Las Vegas Chapter of the USBG and Southern Glaziers Wine & Spirits hosted the Garrison Brothers Bourbon seminar.

In the SWS Academy Room, members enjoyed delicious cocktails created by Max Solano and mixed by guild members Adam Carol & Manny Garcia. There was an extremely quaffable winter-spiced version of an Old Fashioned and a very zippy Whiskey Shandy (both went down too easy)!

IMG_2645-1 “Lone Star Shandy”

Some of the best things in life are, laughter, good times and good whiskey. Charlie Garrison brought them all. He is one of the owners of Garrison Brothers; along with his brother Dan Garrison, they make a Texas style artisan bourbon that is receiving a lot of attention in the bourbon world.

Charlie had us riveted, as we listened to tales of the 1st legal distillery in Texas. His stories of lobbying Texas legislature and mitigating the crazy genius of his partner & brother Dan Garrison were one of a kind. It is apparent that there is much soul and life in his distillery.

IMG_2646Charlie Garrison

But what mattered most, was in the glass! The table was sat with the 2015 vintage of Garrison Brothers as well as the single barrel. It was a freestyle tasting; Mr Garrison invited us to sip and take our own conclusions.

He emphasized the effect of the micro-climate in Texas where the temperature swing is often 40 degrees in one day. Also the treatment of the barrels; they in fact, need to be “dry-aged” in order to withstand the unique climate and avoid bursting. The interaction between the barrel and the juice is very unique.

They also use food-grade organic white-winter wheat and panhandle white corn, which are both very expensive. But they do show sense of place along with the rainwater used for dilution. All make a great base for this one-of-a kind bourbon.

There has even been interest from the boys from Kentucky. Bourbon god, Booker Noe has taken interest in this bourbon microclimate. There is much to be said about the unique limestone aquifer which has a very hight mineral content. So much so, the water has an odor to it. As Charlie says, “you can’t shower in it, but it makes great whiskey!”

At the end of seminar, we had the chance to sample over 20 different single barrels and purchase the barrel of our choice! Dangerous for many of us whiskey lovers! But then again, most bartenders live for this kind of delicious danger!

Garrison Brothers, thank you so much. We will see you at the bar!



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Oh yeah! Negroni Week!!!!

Its again time to raise money for charity by drinking your favorite cocktail, the Negroni! Now in it’s 4th year, it is expanding its repertoire of venues and flavor profiles.

Tacos & Beer is well known for fresh, vibrant & rustic comida mexicana, craft beer and good-times o’plenty, but not necessarily for a classic Italian cocktail.

But this year you will have take a closer look, you will find a beautiful surprise.

Katie Cruz has brought together equal parts of the classically delicate Plymouth Gin, along the sponsor Campari and the French vermouth, Dolin Rouge. To add further complexity to the world’s perfect drink, she has put these three heavenly ingredients in a barrel that once contained Xicaru Mezcal.


Can’t wait to go and visit! Salud! #USBGLV #NEGRONIWEEK

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USBGLV Food Truck Cocktail Wars is going to set a precedent! This Bar Crawl & Cocktail Comp pairs Chefs and Barmen together for culinary/mixological synergy. This groundbreaking event has been created is in the name of charity and proceeds will be supporting the Helen David Relief Fund & the USBG. It is part of For the Love of Cocktails which will be three days of cocktail celebration and imbibing for the cause. The Food Truck Cocktail Wars is happening Thursday, February 11th at 10.p.m. All of the competitors are taking this opportunity very seriously but perhaps no one more than Bryan Pierzga and his chef counterpart, Christian Guzman of Dragon Grille!

Read below for a sneak peak in the mind of a mixologist….

Bryan Pierzga


How do you feel about competing in the Food Truck Cocktail Wars?

“In all reality I had not expected to get selected. There’s a plethora of insanely talented bartenders in this city. The $1500 bounty on this would surely account for a healthy amount of them submitting recipes. You could color me excited at the news of being picked; enough that I had to excuse myself out the back and give a little fist pump towards the night sky.”

Tell us about your background and how you will utilize it in the competition?

“Except for one exception, I’ve always worked in restaurant/bar combinations. I started bussing at an Irish Restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland. From there, I served and worked up to bartender at a college craft beer and tequila joint in Pennsylvania. My year and a half in Vegas has seen me at El Dorado in its infancy, opening crew at Yardbird in the Venetian, on-call mixologist for Cosmopolitan, and now presently at the brand new F. Pigalle in downtown. Being afforded the opportunity to work such vastly different style of bars and kitchens was a blessing.

Where do you see the connection between bar and kitchen?

Before digging into the depths of bartending, I had seriously considered culinary school in California. I loved working around skillful chefs and bouncing ideas, food or drink wise, off of them to see if my flavors profiles had merit. Chefs and bartenders, in my humble opinion, are very similar. We have a similar thought process when creating anything we plan to serve. That common thread between the “gap” that is FOH and BOH is something to take advantage; of which, I plan to fully explore.

How are you approaching the cocktail & food pairing?

I’m looking at this from two perspectives; either my drink needs to seem almost a part of the dish by using similar flavors or it should contrast with every bite and sip. I want every aspect of both of our offerings to shine. Going about achieving those results will take some tweaking but I’m confident that we can. All said and done this is shaping up to be a unique cocktail competition. One of which,  I am proud to be a part of. It won’t be easy to take down the other pairings but that makes a win all the more satisfying.”

We can’t wait!

Tickets are still available.

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With For the Love of Cocktails quickly approaching, participants are gearing up for the fun and creative Food Truck Cocktail Wars. Featured chefs and mixologists come together to create a one of a kind cocktail & food pairing experience. It will be equal parts tasting & competition that is focusing on the importance of a strong marriage between kitchen and bar. The results: very creative and very delicious cocktails and food. Our tastebuds, livers and stomachs are sure to be stimulated! February 11th, 10PM at the Gold Spike in Downtown Las Vegas.

Team #2: Tim Baer and Justin Kinsley Hall


Tim Baer

How excited are about the event? How will your experience play into your performance?

What an Amazing and unparalleled opportunity for our team! I am honored and excited about this competition and the chance to work beside Chef Justin. Working one on one with a chef to create a concept where both show their metal is a first for me! I have worked with chefs to create flavor profiles for cocktails, but a specific cocktail to pair with a Chef’s dish is a first. Working with Dave Ponte and the bar team at Nobu is what sparked my interested in Mixology and reignited the passion in my 26-year career. I have strived to learn all I can about mixology from making purees and syrups to mixing with shrubs and exotic juices. Mr. Chow is my next challenge and working with Pete Gomez, another former Nobu Bar manager, has presented more room to create a new and exciting bar program and further develop my skills in Mixology. Being exposed to different exotic fruits and having bar managers to encourage creativity has let me to my cocktail ‘The Duke’ that we will be offering at food truck wars.”

What is your game plan for the competition?

“Chef and I have a lot of things in common including our past cultural relationships. We have discussed the flavor profiles of the cocktail and came up with a dish from our common Danish connection.

What is your favorite part of &/or greatest challenge with Food & Cocktail pairings?

“Where else can do you get the opportunity create something with a blank slate! It gives your imagination the chance to wonder what if! Then what next? Do you contrast, compliment, lead into or just pull a fusion? It is a lot to think about but that idea of unlimited potential lets you throw the rules out and just express your art! Looking at the playing field of teams is almost as exciting as the concept itself. I am hoping that I’ll get a chance to sample some of my competitor’s parings as well as learning from them about their concept and synergy that they create. What a better reason then for charity? The Helen David Relief Fund is bringing us all together to put out the best that we have to offer and push us to do better!

Tell me about the spirit that you will be using?”

“I am working with Basil Hayden’s for my cocktail. Created by Master Distiller Basil Hayden, this bourbon broke the rules of the time by adding rye and grains to contrast the sweetness of corn to create a flavor profile of citrus, pepper, and spice. Basil Hayden took the lead in my cocktail with its spicy bourbon being the forward flavor and will mix perfectly with Yuzu and my Fig & Balsamic shrub.”

Anything that you’d like to add?

“Thank you for this opportunity and may all your bottoms be up!”



Chef Justin Kingsley Hall


Chef, where do you see the marriage of food & drink?

“As chefs we spend a lot of time pairing food with wine, and now beer pairings are becoming more respected. I’ve always loved collaboration, so the chance to work with cocktail pairings is always an exciting opportunity. You’re able to play with such a vast profile of flavors as well as textures that it allows a chef to look at it as one coherent experience rather than food/drink. The two bleed into one another very easily. The challenge if at all is that you have two very creative people mapping that idea from two different sides of the table.”

Can you tell us a little about your background?

“Along with consulting, I teach at the Art Institute of Las Vegas and assist in the kitchen at Southern Wine & Spirits. I’ve catered anything from high end home dinners to beer festivals, the Further Festival last year, Life is Beautiful and work with several chefs whenever asked. In the past I worked for Comme Câ under Brian Howard both here in Vegas and West Hollywood. I’ve also lived and worked in the Central Coast of California, Florida, and North Carolina (not cooking in NC). My experience from working in fine dining to pop-ups; I’m comfortable in any environment. It surprising what you can accomplish when pushed to do your best.”

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USBGLV Food Truck Cocktail Wars -Competitor Spotlight!

Patrick Flanagan


What are you most excited about with this event?

“I’ve never had better barbecue in my life than from Chef Mike Minor’s TruckU Barbeque so I’m super excited to try to eat as much of it as I can before the customers get to it. Just kidding! But I’m really excited to be working with such a talented Chef. My most significant bartending experience comes from working at The Empire, a gourmet Chinese Dim Sum restaurant in downtown Portland, Maine. There I got to play around with some unique asian fruits and traditional cooking ingredients as well as to hone my cocktail creation skills. But mostly I’m just a huge nerd and always have my nose in a book or am experimenting in a secret cocktail lab I share with my colleague Wan Requena.”

What is your game plan?

“I’ve been communicating with Chef Mike since we were introduced for the competition. We did a really productive tasting and cocktail experimentation meeting in person where we played around with different recipe and proportion ideas I had before settling on a mesquite smoke and apricot driven flavor profile. Early on we decided to go with his brisket sopa in a corm masa bowl as the dish and I created the cocktail around that and the base spirit.Strategy wise, the cocktail compliments the smokey, sweet, and slightly herbal (cilantro/mint) qualities in the dish with the mesquite and mint infused bourbon and deliciously rich apricot liqueur. Simultaneously, it contrasts the dish’s flavors and sweetness with acidic lemon and bitter amaro to give the pairing balance. The cocktail is also designed to dynamically change in sweetness over time, by using a sweet, smoked pomegranate juice ice cube. This compensates for the decrease in sweetness in the dish as one moves from the brisket on top to the lime soaked corn masa bowl on the bottom. I tried to think 4 dimensionally about the cocktail pairing-not only its composition and physical appearance, but its taste over time compared to the dish.”


10401933_302178159944504_4657098049720750674_n     (Chef Mike Minor of TruckU Barbeque)

What would be the biggest challenge with food & cocktail pairings?

“My favorite part of the competition is the intellectual challenge to create something relatively unique while constrained to the parameters of using only the base spirit and having it pair perfectly with the dish – that and having an excuse to sip delicious cocktails while chowing down on some smoked brisket. Life is hard sometimes.”

Tell me about the spirit that you will be utilizing?

The spirit I’ll be using is WoodFord Reserve’s signature product: a Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The spirit is a great standard bearer for artisinal Bourbon. Everything is carefully cultivated from the mineral rich, iron free, limestone filtered water, to their proprietary yeast, to the proportions of grain that go into mash. This bourbon is 72% corn giving it a warmer, rounder character, but this is also balanced by a relatively high amount of rye at 18% that gives it a sharper, spicier note. When tasting the bourbon for notes that would pair well with the barbecue dish, I got hints of smoke, charcoal, oak, and stonefruit. For the cocktail I decided to play off the smoke and went with apricot to match the stonefruit. At 45.2% alcohol, the bourbon is also hotter than most other bourbons or commercial spirits. I had to compensate for this with the lemon, amaro, and mint to round out the nose and back end of the cocktail.”


USBGLV Food Truck Cocktail Wars is this February 11th 9PM

For the Love of Cocktails, February 10, 11, 12

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As part of For the Love of Cocktails, we will be experiencing a new and exciting type of competition. The Food Truck Cocktail Wars brings together eight top mixologists & eight local chefs. Working with spirit sponsor, they will engage in a “no holds barred” cocktail & culinary celebration. Each team is tasked with creating the perfect pairing of cocktails & food for a delightful result.

One of the competing teams is comprised of Julian Luna from Vesper Bar and Chef Gina Marinelli from D.O.C.G. These veterans in the industry are no strangers to competitions. Speaking of the importance of a strong relationship between kitchen and bar, Chef Marinelli believes, “It’s a great opportunity to showcase the dynamics between the kitchen and the bar, and how a strong connection always results in a successful product.”








Chef Gina Marinelli

The Food Truck Cocktail Wars will be held downtown on February 11th at the Gold Spike. All proceeds will benefit the USBGLV and Helen David Relief Fund. Start time is 10PM.









Julian Luna

“I was the Beverage Director at Hops & Harvest and for the last 3 years I’ve worked for Vesper bar. I’ve seen how important guest service is and how crucial it is for the bar & kitchen to work together. I think our game plan is to learn about each other’s styles and finely play off of them. Of course, hospitality will be a huge focus. We need to make sure that we create a show with a warm and inviting atmosphere. I woudn’t call it a preview, but just know that everything that we do is meant to catch your eye and make you to think! Bartenders come from a long lineage of proud drinking culture; it’s only right that we lead the way in giving back to our wonderful community with this great charity event!


Article by: “TomTom” Kozlowski & Adam Rains

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