USBG Denton Chapter Update
Earlier this month, the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) Denton chapter kicked off with their first mock event giving potential members a taste of what’s to come when the chapter goes live. More than 50 people gathered for a day of education, competition, and of course drinking at various locations around the Downtown Denton Square. Spearheading the day’s activities were Paschall Bar Manager Jeremy Dean, 940’s General Manager Matt Mullins, Hannah’s Manager Alex Slaughter, and Oak Street Drafthouse and Eastside Owner John Williams.
Attendees met at the first location, Hannah’s Off the Square, where they checked in and were immediately greeted with a glass of champagne. Among the crowd were many familiar faces and everyone mingled in small groups to exchange proper introductions. “I hope that bartenders and service professionals find something that appeals to them and draws their interest, and also discover the chance to network and meet other industry folks,” Mullins of 940’s says.
Shawn Croft, sommelier representing Pioneer Wine Company led a course he titled “Modern Trends in Wine” and guided the group through a series of different wines to taste and discuss. Croft gave a detailed history behind each winery, grape and vinification process starting with a Chardonnay and ending with a Syrah. He made it a point to show the importance of oak in the course of wine-making, and how Syrah can have notes of olives, coconut, and even dill. “Drink more Syrah!” he said with enthusiasm as the class came to an end.
Next, the crew moved down the street to 940’s where seven local bars went head to head in an Old Fashioned competition sponsored by Four Roses Bourbon. Representing each bar were Michael Solis of Oak Street Drafthouse, Justin Bonard of Eastside, James Hoger of 940’s, Jonathon Cerda of Dusty’s, Jason Lastavica of Hannah’s, Allison Sigler of Paschall Bar and Chase Fox and Jason Vincent of Mulberry Street Cantina. Each contestant was given a chance to create their own version of an Old Fashioned in front of a panel of judges. While making their cocktails, they were encouraged to give a story behind the name, flavors, and techniques used to make their drink stand out from the rest. Eastside’s “Guns and Roses” featured a pistol-shaped ice cube and fresh rose petal for garnish, and Hannah’s used coriander syrup with a sprig of cilantro for a pop of color. Solis of Oak Street soaked a sugar cube in a hand-crafted bitters solution and 940’s concocted a “Campfire Old-Fashioned” with maple smoked Luxardo cherries. In the end, it was Mulberry Street Cantina that snagged third place with their Mole Old-Fashioned complete with chocolate bitters and crushed, dried hatch and poblano chilies. Coming in like a dark horse, Dusty’s bar took second with a chocolate “Montezuma” Old-Fashioned donning a torched marshmallow garnish. First place went to Sigler of Paschall Bar who took a more classic approach using brown sugar simple syrup to create a richer sweetness. For garnish she chose to freeze small dried roses in her large ice cube, a nod to the Four Roses bourbon.
From there the group made their way back up on the Square to Paschall Bar where Omar Yeefoon was ready to educate everyone on Ford’s gin and what makes them unique in the world of gin distilleries. “That’s what USBG is about, bringing in the brand ambassadors to keep us updated on the current trends. We are the ones pushing their brands and crafting cocktails for the guests. It’s important to have as much knowledge as possible,” Dean of Paschall Bar says. Yeefoon spoke on the process by which they draw out the natural botanical flavors by steeping their gin for 15 hours before firing. In his words, “Jasmine makes it elegant.” Attendees received an extensive history on gin, sipped samples of Ford’s and learned what also makes this gin special: the bottle. It is specifically designed with a bartender in mind, from the shape that should compliment the grip when pouring a drink, to the reinforced glass to prevent breakage.
The last stop of the day was Eastside where everyone squeezed into booths and on to stools to listen as local cicerone Justin Bonard lead a mini beer tasting. He started with Hop Slice IPA out of Deschutes with its bright floral notes and crisp citrus flavors and ended with local favorite wild ale Salty Lady which is more tart tempered with coriander, and of course, salt. Bonard took questions and spoke eloquently about the beer. After the tasting was wrapped up, shots naturally circulated the tables and the evening ended in a group cheers to a day of education, drinking, and friendly competition. John Williams, a man of few words, needed only one to sum up the day, “Awesome.”
If you missed this event and still want an opportunity to participate, it’s not too late! Today, September 14th USBG Denton will hold its second event open to members and nonmembers alike at Eastside at 2 pm. Come meet Ivan Rimach and learn about Cuatro Gallo’s Pisco, a spirit that is fast growing here in the United States. You’ll be educated on the history of this Peruvian Brandy, and how you can use it in cocktails. Slaughter of Hannah’s says, “Very happy with how the first event went off, it was good to see that the community is behind the idea of having our own chapter. Can’t wait to have some more events!” If you’re interested, email the USBG Denton chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Header image design by Jason Lee