Craft guilds were the medieval way to network. Masters mentored newcomers, helping to insure high standards of workmanship. In a modern day reincarnation, the newly formed North East Ohio Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild aims to bring local mixers and shakers together for professional development and some spirited socializing.
Founding member Joe DeLuca describes it as a fellowship of bartenders who are passionate about and dedicated to the history, craft and enjoyment of spirits, wine and beer. (Evokes images of Frodo and friends leading a quest for adult beverages). Clearly this matters to folks in the business. But it’s good news for the rest of us, too, because they’ll be doing all sorts of special promotions, competitions and meet-ups in the area.
Nathan Ho (left) Tanqueray Championship Bartender and Joe DeLuca. Photo courtesy of Lynn Vozar
The group hosted their first ever public event and kick-off fundraiser last week. It was held at Plank Tavern, a new bar offering Midwest craft beer and up-market pub food, in Lakewood (16719 Detroit Ave.). Guests got mini-samples of seven cocktails made by seven mixologists. Here was the line-up:
-Nathan Burdette, Zinc: Honey “B” Jalisco Julep
-Darko Marankovic, Crop: Canton Ginger Sour
-Tom Novak, Pier W: Kentucky Rose
-Melissa Larupe, Rosewood Grill: 12 Roys-Robbed
-Matt Raynor, Plank Road Tavern: Detroit Collins
-Eric Ho, Melt: Beetnik’s Tonic
-Joe DeLuca, Dinner in the Dark: Trouble with Truffles
The Julep, topped with fresh raspberries and basil leaves.
They were working hard to keep these labor-intensive drinks flowing but clearly having fun in the process. There was some showmanship involved. I happened to be standing behind a small, beaming woman watching Nathan Burdette expertly lay a float of Tuaca (orange liquer) atop of his blend of tequila, basil-infused honey and lemon juice. She was beaming and seemed particularly impressed with his performance. Finally, unable to contain herself, she turned to me, a total stranger, and said, “That’s my son.”
It was the kind of pride usually reserved for children who achieve doctor, lawyer or Hollywood celebrity status. I take it as an indication that the NEO Chapter of the US Bartenders Guild is already elevating the profession and its knowledgeable and imaginative practitioners. Follow the organization on Facebook to keep up with all the happenings and news.
Nathan Burdette behind the bar at Plank Road Tavern. Photo courtesy of Lynn Vozar