USBGLV event wrap ups

This month, our USBGLV members had the opportunity to dive into a magnificent presentation on all things Absinthe. Our hosts Milo Rodriguez and Ted Breaux of Lucid Absinthe were more than generous with their knowledge.


Ted Breaux of Lucid Absinthe

Lucid Absinthe was the first Absinthe to become legal in the US following the hundred year ban, and they were the perfect ambassadors to expound on the Absinthe revival. As with all of our chapter’s events, members soaked up both the knowledge and the product!

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They shared with us the legend of green fairy, as well as highlighting it’s recent revival. Ted Breaux who is the master distiller of Lucid, discussed how Absinthe gained popularity among the French troops during the early 1800’s. One of their favorite methods of consumption was to make “Absinthe soup.” It was believed that by adding Absinthe to their canteens, they could sterilize the water and fend off dysentery. Win, Win!


It is no secret that some of legend and lore surrounding Absinthe are bolstered by the rituals of it’s consumption. There are many ways to enjoy this spirit and a delicious amount of paraphernalia that can accompany the experience.


At the seminar we were “shown the way” as we discussed proper serving and tasting techniques (glasses, spoons and saucers), along with the drip methods, and beautiful vessels. As with many of our USBG events, there was much to learn and experience.


Thank you USBG & Lucid for an amazing seminar and to Le Pho for providing a beautiful space and bringing stellar Vietnamese cuisine to Downtown Las Vegas!



(Article & photos by Tricia McLeod, Edited by Adam Rains)



Some of Lucid’s other classically awesome  products

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Meanwhile at the last Underground Bar Brawl Club…

Drinks were pouring, cocktail shakers shaking, laughs & good times were flowing. It was another Las Vegas community cocktail-bash meant to strengthen and unify our brotherhood of bartenders (including sisters, of course!). Yes, it was a great success.

From experienced competitors to first-timers, it was collaboration of some of our best and an expression of what we can be. Held at Off the Strip at the Linq, this not-for-profit competition was started by local barmen; this particular episode was sponsored by A Hardy and it’s Armagnac de Montal. This “spirit of the musketeers” was used in a number of delightful libations, all centered on the classic Cognac cocktail, the Side Car.


Competitors brought their A-games with a number of playful variations. From Blood Orange Marmalade, to Ancho Chile, the drinks were tantalizing to all of the senses. With the bartenders going head to head and sharing the same well, it fostered a number of interesting interactions. Most notably the now famous “piggy-back” bartending style invented by Kinson Lau and Jason Hughes. As well as the salacious co-ed “shake off” between Ramon Ordoñez and Shauna Cordova.

IMG_2087 (Jason and Kinson enjoying the evening)

The second round was “freestyle” and used an atypical creamy liqueur made by Cinnabon. The competitors came out swinging while utilizing this challenging ingredient. The judges, myself included, were very surprised at the inventive and varied “a la minute” cocktails using this unique spirit.

By the time the judges calculations were complete, it was too close to call. The competition ended with a tie for 1st and 2nd place. Of course the UBBC, could not finish like that. So what came next…?

A FIZZ OFF!!! The final challenge continued with a variation of the Fizz, between Eric Hobbie and Jessica Lee Westergom. A “no-garnish allowed” Armagnac Fizz using only Lemon, Sugar, Armagnac and Cointreau.

It was a very interesting challenge because it showed the subtleties of the simplest ratios. A textbook demonstration of the all-important minutia which are vital to masterful drink-making. Keeping in mind the dilution via ice, how hard to shake or to stir, down to the the temperature of the seltzer, were all important and vital. A good lesson to all.

In the end, the winner became apparent. Jessica took it home with her vibrant rendition of the Armagnac Fizz! A superb end to an amazing night!



Congrats to Jessica, all of the contestants, A Hardy, and to you Vegas! Salute!

1st Place -Jessica Lee Westergom of the Sand Dollar
2nd Place -Eric Hobbie of Giadas
3rd Place -Ramon Ordoñez of Gordon Ramsay Pub


All hail the Underground Bar Brawl Club! See you again

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Another great USBGLV event! Eddie Russell of Wild Turkey and Chef Rick Moonen of Las Vegas (and the world) brought us their love and passion of Bourbon.

There was an excitement in the air as our chapter members sat in front of American Whiskey Royalty, Eddie Russell. He is a link to bourbon’s past present & future, and been distilling for Wild Turkey for over 35 years. Eddie brought his expertise, down-home sensibility and graciousness to the table at this USBGLV event.

“To be able to be in front of the USBG where ever I’m at is great. We just want to say thank you.”  -Eddie Russell


After an impassioned intro by Chef Rick Moonen of RM Seafood, RX Boiler Room and Top Chef Masters. Eddie spoke of the journey American Whiskey. He started by speaking of George Washington & Rye, all of the way to Elijah Craig, the man credited to starting Bourbon.

IMG_9694 Chef Rick Moonen

Eddie also illustrated a portion of his own personal journey and how he got started. “Well my dad has been doing it since 1964 and I didn’t think that I was going to get into it but when I tasted some whiskey right out of the barrel and I was like Dorothy, I clicked my heels and knew that I was home. We now are one of the only father and son master distillers in America.”

Talking about the origins of Wild Turkey, “An Irish family in 1869 by an Irish family can be credited to starting our distillery. During Prohibition it was shut down except for a little bit for medicine.”

Eddie mentioned that before prohibition the market was still pretty Rye heavy and then continued, “After Prohibition Bourbon to ok over. Booker Noe from Jim Beam, Elmer T Lee Ancient Age, Parker Beam from Heavan Hill. Those were making nearly all the bourbon for the country.”

As time passed and the changing of the American palate, “Most started taking Rye out of the mash-bill and aging less, and lowering the proof (most were 80).” Wild Turkey stayed the course and he continued, “I thought Jimmy Russell was crazy not wanting to change anything. I’m glad he didn’t!”

We were then led through a tasting. Wild Turkey 101, Russell’s Reserve, Rick Moonen’s Private Barrell (available at RX Boiler Room) and the new Master’s Keep. All of these whiskey’s showed the best in what bourbon can be. From the most flavor for value, the 8 year aged Wild Turkey 101 to the ultra limited releases of the 17 year aged Master’s Keep.

Even after tasting, the entire group of seasoned bartenders were hanging on every word as Eddie gave us some more insights on more little known facts, “Russel’s are still tasting, white dog, barrels, my dad is 82 years old and keeps working out of love. We are a non GMO facility, one of only 2 in Kentucky. I’m proud of it. Some export countries require it. Back to the roots and we retain the same recipe for bourbon and one for rye. All with one mother yeast strain.”

We then went  upstairs for a cocktail competition and good time. Chef Rick Moonen made a Kentucky specialty called a  Bergoo which he playfully described as “critters in a cauldron.” It was delicious and rich and truly unique.



All of the cocktails were pleasantly quaffable  and did not disappoint. Joe Pereira of Herbs & Rye took home the prize with a delicious spirit forward cocktail  made with Wild Turkey 101. All that attended were delighted to be a part of such a special event.



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On a cool December morning, a dozen mixologists and USBG members got together at RX Boiler Room in the name of competition and to celebrate many of FAIR‘s spirits. RX Boiler Room has been a champion for our local cocktail renaissance just as FAIR has been for products made with integrity. All of FAIR’s products are certified fair trade and made with Non GMO ingredients which proves that profits and passion can coexitst.

The prizes:

1st place 250.00 cash, a copper Persian shaker and a Guest shift at RX Boiler Room
2nd place 150.00 cash and a copper Persian shaker
3rd place 100.00 cash and a copper Persian shaker
4th place a copper Persian shaker
5th place a copper Persian shaker

The Products:
FAIR Quinoa Vodka- made from Certified fair trade Non GMO Red Quinoa from the foot hills of Bolivia, distilled in a column still in Cognac France.
FAIR 5 year old Belize Rum – Made from Certificated fair trade High test molasses from sugar cane from Belize, distilled in a hybrid still, pot and column still aged for 5 years
FAIR Goji Liqueur – Made from Certificated fair trade Himalayan/ Tibetan Goji berries, macerated in neutral gran spirit for 36 hours with the addition of Malawi sugar
FAIR Cafe Liqueur -Made from Certificated fair trade Coffee beans from Huatusco region of Veracruz in Mexico , macerated in neutral gran spirit for 3 weeks with the addition of Malawi sugar



1st Place Cocktail:

Jason Hughes



“True Expressions”


1.5oz Fair Vodka.

.75oz Fair Goji.

1.5oz Organic Tangerine juice.

.5oz Locally sourced Dessert Blossom Sage/Mango Honey infused with Pink Peppercorn.

.75oz Citrus (Key lime/Lemon).

1-2 Dashes Spiced Fig Bitters.


1st. Start by making the cocktail twice. One cocktail is for the glass, and the second is for the garnish. Adding 1-2% per volume of gelatin to the cocktail and adding heat to the mixture allows the chemical bond to happen. Chill for a few hours to let harden.


Cocktail Glass.


Cocktail Jellies and a Goji/Pink peppercorn rim.


2nd place

Jaiver Ramirez


“The BeanStalk of Belize”

2oz of fair rum
1oz of house made brown Sugar and chipotle simple syrup
.5oz of dubonet
1oz of coffee infused fair vodka
Stirred in ice poured over ice coffee cubes and a touch of house made ginger beer

3rd place

Adam Carol


“Fair to Farmers”

1.5 oz Fair Rum

.75 oz Lime Juice

.75 oz Cherry/Red bell pepper Simple Syrup

Topped with a Smoked Fair Goji Foam

Coupe Glass

Red Bell Pepper String around the Cherry

4th place

Sarah Freedman


“Beet me Bloody”

1.5 oz fair vodka
1/2 oz vanilla simple syrup
2 tsp blood orange marmalade
3-4 small pieces of cooked beets
3 oz DRY Blood Orange soda

Muddle beets and SS. Add vodka and marmalade and shake with ice. Top off with soda.

5th place

Greg Rodriguez


“Harvey in the Cadillac”

2oz FAIR Qunioa Vodka

1oz Galliano

¾ oz Lemon Juice

Shake, Double strain into frozen double rocks glass.

Top it off with Orange Cadillac Foam

Orange Cadillac Foam

In the ISI Whipper I will pour:

4oz Orange Juice

3oz Egg Whites

2oz Grand Marnier

4 Dashes of Peach Bitters

Charge the whipper with 2 CO2 cartridges.


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December 1st: Last Slinger Standing Qualifier

With some near misses in the last couple of years at  Arizona Cocktail Week, Las Vegas intends to have a strong presence for 2016. Tuesday, December 1st the Las Vegas qualifier for the upcoming Last Slinger Standing competition was held at Herbs & Rye.

IMG_0018All of the competitors brought their A-games with each heat being head to head format. Every round included a number of possible choices that could be made by the bartender but were held with in the parameters of a base spirit and secret ingredient.  The action was fast, and the competitors were full of inventive uses of ingredients such as Chamomile all of the way to Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra. IMG_0017

IMG_0019In the end, Eric Hobbie of Giada’s came out on top with an amazing performance.  Alex Peñalosa, Philip Dow and Jessica Lee Westergom also rocked it out and will be joining him in Arizona to represent Vegas! Wish them luck and come and support them at the AZ Cocktail Week!

For more information go to





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By Raul Faria

The USBGLV recently got the opportunity to sample some of Tieton Cider’s core craft line of products and learn what makes a craft cider, well, craft. Sales Manager V.P. os Sales and Marketing Braden Andreas gave us an overview of the organic farming techniques and long history of the family farm where all the apples and of course the cider come from. The apples themselves are also quite unique and help separate Tieton from some of the more commercial brands.

Harmony Farms

Organically grown in Yakima Washington for the last 25 years on a farm that began operation in 1920. The apples grown there are varietals that were used to make the kind of cider that was consumed in colonial times. These particular wild apples are typically not suited for raw consumption as they are pretty bitter, they do however make a cider that is full of flavor and complexity.

The Apples

Farmers Craig and Sharon Campbell began by planting 25 different varieties of bitter sharp/sweet cider apples and narrowed it down to ten that are used in their craft line. They also are one of the few farms in the U.S. that grows genuine perry pears for use in their sparling perry.

The Ciders

Tieton Cider has a diverse portfolio of Ciders, Perrys and even desert wines. They event make a session cider called Rambling Route. Click here to check out the entire portfolio.

Cider Shake

Cider Shake is a cocktail competition accepting recipes as we speak. Rules are simple, use any of the Ciders in the portfolio with the exception of Rambling Route, film a small video of you making it and post it to YouTube. Get the most likes and win $2000. With plenty of variety and flavor profiles I am really excited to see what our members will come up with. Deadline is December 31st. Click here for the complete set of rules.

For more information on Tieton Cider and the Cider Shake competition go to You can also reach out to Braden Andreas at Tieton Cider is distributed through Wirtz Beverage.




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By Raul Faria

We had a great turnout for our 2nd roundtable and I want to thank everyone for participating. I also want to extend a very big thank you to Jennifer Kelly from Disaronno for sponsoring the event and sharing with us the history of Disaronno and for also sponsoring our Afan AIDS walk team. Thank you also to Sergio and Tim from the Barrymore for hosting us at their beautiful venue and extending a 20% discount to members wearing their USBG pins.

Disaronno certainly has one of the most interesting and romantic origin stories. In 1525 painter Bernadino Luini, who was a painter in Leonardo Da Vinci’s circle, was commissioned to paint a fresco of the Madonna of Miracles in Saronno, Italy.

He was in need of a model and discovered a local inn keeper that was perfect for the painting. The inn keeper was so grateful that she was chosen to be immortalized in the fresco as the Madonna that she presented the painter with a bottle of her family’s recipe for a liqueur with the flavor of sweet almonds, herbs and fruits. This was Disaronno.

Disaronno we learned is not made from almonds at all but actually milled apricot pits, vanilla and cocoa beans along with a secret recipe of herbs and fruit.

We had a few important announcements and also addressed all of the concerns from our first roundtable.

We announced our search for the USBGLV Ambassador to join the council. The USBGLV Ambassador will be tasked with reactivating old members and engaging new ones. They will also be in charge of organizing social functions and of course recruitment.

The event classification system was launched. This will help quickly identify the content of an event with a quick tag.

Educational– a seminar or event in which the content is considered educational by way of a guided tasting, lecture, any activity that is relevant to the understanding of the seminar topic or any combination of those elements.

Party/Happy Hour– an event in which its content is considered recreational and focused on recreational consumption of beverage alcohol or other leisure activity.

Educational/Party– a seminar or event that will combine elements of both tags.

We also announced our website Which you are obviously aware of. Since you’re on it right now. has all our member spotlights collected, our events calendar, the USBGLV store, details on the USBG MA program, plus our Instagram and Twitter feeds. @USBGLV

We also went over the next USBGLV Workshop Series: MA Program that will be held July 1st. For those that are planning to take Advanced Bartender at Tales,  this will be an INVALUABLE resource for understanding and passing the exam. You will hear from Michael Pryzdial and Tim Weigel who will share with you there personal experiences with the MA Program. We will also get hands on practice with feedback and guidance from Livio Lauro, Bobbie Gleason and Tony Abou Ganim! Now is the best time to take the Advanced Bartender exam, but you must first pass Spirits Professional. Its an online exam that can be taken any time. Study your MA books and get on it!

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