Bartender Guilds (Part 1)

Think back throughout all of your life to the bartenders that you’ve known…  Hell, do you remember the first bartender that served you?  I do – I remember when I was…17 maybe?  Back then in those days of TVs with knobs that went from 1 – 12, front doors that never locked and a minimum age of 19, everyone knew the bars in their cities that served us young’ns.  I used my cousin’s ID and pretended that the doorguy and myself were not in this dance together.   He’d look at the ID and then at me (I must have looked 14), and I said to myself, ‘I sure hope that he believes the ID’…

After the first time in that bar, the world was a whole new place – never the same again.  Think about it – bars were always the places where we saw on TV where SHIT WENT DOWN!!!  I mean, in ’87, a few of the top movies were Fatal Attraction, The Untouchables and Dirty Dancing…  Goddam!  I wanna get some of that!  I may meet a chick in a bar if those movies were any hint of my future since I sure as hell was not meeting any at my high school…

That first bar was a pit…it was dank, dark, smelly, humid, ugly, dangerous and fantastic.  One drank longneck Budweisers, the shots were sickeningly sweet, women were a thousand times more beautiful than they were outside and violence was always an option.  AND, the most important part: the bartender was king.  He’s the guy that gave you your longneck Buds, he’s the guy that mixed those shots that the girls loved, and he was either controlling or adjudicating the violence.  That was the real world.

Jerry 'The Professor' Thomas

Today though, bartenders are generally no different, really.  There are still bars in your city just like that one, and somewhere, some young kid is pretending to be 21 and feigning as if he’s not freaked the fuck out while he holds his beer and dreams of the false promise of those older women, drunk on shots the colors of rainbows.

But, I did say generally.  I said this because even back then, when dinosaurs walked the earth and Dale DeGroff was emulating the Gentleman Bartender of lore at the Rainbow Room, there were barmen all around the world who knew what it took to be great barmen, such as the “Professor” Jerry Thomas.

Since those days, many great bartenders have been created, and, as there have been more and more bartenders interested in the craft of bartending, many of those bartenders have together formed Guilds in order to professionalize their careers and their industry.  For instance, just over a year ago, three bartenders, Andrew Bohrer, Keith Waldbauer and I got together in Seattle and started the Washington State Bartender’s Guild.  We didn’t really know what we were doing, but it seemed like a great idea.  Our first meeting had 12 bartenders at it, and this founder’s group has led to there now being over 250 people on our mailing list.

But, before we had a guild, there were many before us.  For instance, Keith Waldbauer and I; he being the Vice President and me being the President, we looked to the already established Oregon Bartender’s Guild to help us write our charter.  At that time, the president at that time was Daniel Shoemaker, owner of the great Teardrop Lounge, and he had his own battles to go through in formation and operation of the OBG.  But, we’ll leave that discussion and to the next blog post where I will bring into the conversation leaders of bartender guilds from around the country and the world.

Please click here for the updated Part 2 of this post.

2 Responses to “Bartender Guilds (Part 1)”

  1. [...] Alcohology A Hands On Study Of Alcohol « Bartender Guilds (Part 1) [...]

  2. Thanks for finally talking about >Bartender Guilds (Part 1) Alcohology
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