The Washington State Bartender’s Guild.

I didn’t even know Keith Waldbauer about two and a half months ago.

Andrew Borher is a great bartender who used to tend bar just a block south of me down at 22 Doors, and he and I were on our way towards starting a guild.  Andrew looks like a bartender.  He looks like a guy that you can trust with some spirits and a glass, no doubt.  The goetee, the vest, the patience and charm.  By nature or nurture, I’m not sure which.

In any case, he and I discussed it a bit and then luckily, we were hooked up with Keith.  Keith also has his head and hands around bartending.  He’d been at Union as the head bartender there for three years, and now Barrio has wisely asked him to come over there, and what is Seattle’s downtown’s loss is Capitol Hill’s 12th Avenue’s gain.  For months, Keith had also been thinking about doing something about this urge that he similarly had in starting a group for bartenders.

The memory of  how we all go together will have to be left to someone with a better memory than I, but we did end up getting together and the accumulation of bartenders formed the foundation of the Guild.  There were a number of bartenders at those first meetings.  There were the Sun Liquor guys, Erik, Wil and Kevin.  There was Jamie Boudreau and the Vessel stalwarts, Jim and Zane and of course Anu.  Eric from Zig Zag came by, and luckily someone told David Nelson of Spur.  Actually, the list goes on and on, with such dedicated cocktail evangelists such as Robert ‘Drinkboy’ Hess and Paul Clark.

Now – there are a few things that we learned as we went through this.  We learned about the United States Bartender’s Guild, and we learned about the few independent guilds that have been set up around the country.  And, being the Seattlites as we are, we of course didn’t think much about joining a national guild.  In fact, the very hard-working Daniel Shoemaker of Portland’s uber-bar Teardrop was nice enough to give us a copy of his Guild’s Charter, and Keith and I enjoyed editing it to our ends.  Next thing you know, we’re having our Inaugeral Kickoff Bash for the WSBG at Zane and Anu’s amazing pad, and around 100 people came by to celebrate.

Since then, we’ve been working on the website, we’ve been working on our membership outreach, we’ve been working on bringing new spirits into Washington State…….we’ve been busy.  The real promise of the WSBG is to allow a forum for bartenders, friends, our suppliers and such to have a place to meet to discuss cocktails, spirits wine and beer.

Seattle is an intereting place – just ask all the tourists.  We’re rainy as hell as people say and we’re often rightly accused of being superior in attitude.  We can’t help it.  We’re known for our flying fish in rivers and markets, just as we’re known for great music and bad art.  Now – we’re going to be known for our drinks.  We’re going to join the list of great bar cities such as San Francisco, New York and New Orleans.  We’re already there, but…most people don’t know it.  But, just you wait.  You heard it here first.

See you at that bar.


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