Local Bar Managers to Launch Denton Chapter of United States Bartenders’ Guild

When you walk into a bar in Downtown Denton, pause before you order your usual highball, a glass of wine, or bottled beer. You might notice where there was once a handful of usual draughts, a wall of taps stands before you boasting local brews from right here in town to breweries all over the DFW area. Instead of the standard gin and tonic, your bartender might recommend a Hemingway, a French 75 or even a cocktail of their own creation. You’ll then see the fresh fruit posed in attractive fashion next to shakers, stir spoons, and other tools used to craft something truly unique. No need to be intimated, Dentonites. We are embracing the craft culture, and it’s something to drink about. 

This is a truly exciting time for bartenders and drink enthusiasts alike. In the past year alone we’ve welcomed a handful of new establishments to the Downtown area that all serve as an oasis for thirsty Square-dwellers. Where Dallas and Fort Worth have always been the notable contenders when seeking out a top-notch cocktail or rare whiskey, Denton has risen in full force, and it’s only getting better. This energy and creative spirit driving our local bar scene is what motivated Paschall manager, Jeremy Dean, to find a way to unite our bartending community in a new and unprecedented way. “I want to give back to this town because Denton has made me better as a person,” Dean says. “With the growth we’ve seen over the past few years, I’m excited to see where we’re headed.” The goal is to launch a Denton chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) in 2016, and formally bring together and acknowledge Denton bartenders. 

The USBG was first established in California in 1948 and is now active in over 50 cities nationwide. They believe “tending and owning bars is an honorable career choice,” a career where people are passionate, innovative and let’s face it, just plain fun to be around. The job is taxing, it requires long hours, extensive beverage making know-how, and here in Denton, we’re lucky to have some real talent.  Jeremy Dean, who has been a member of the North Texas chapter for several years, saw the benefits of bringing the USBG exclusively to Denton and took action. With the help of Eastside and Oak Street Drafthouse owner John Williams, Hannah’s Manager Alex Slaughter, and 940’s General Manager Matt Mullins, he hopes to unite Denton bartenders, along with cocktail and beer enthusiasts, and anyone who is interested in learning more about the culture. “My goal is to educate people. I look at the big picture: if we’re all doing really well, and we know our craft, then it makes the town look better,” Dean says. “We are a gaining more exposure, and it’s time Denton is recognized for our thriving industry.” 

The Paschall Bar is recognized as a staple of craft cocktails in Denton, but you can’t overlook the original spots like Hannah’s who have been slinging everything from classic martinis to their original cocktails for over a decade. Eastside might be known for it’s extensive beer menu, but if you order a whiskey on the rocks you’ll find the bartender might point you in the direction of an Elijah Craig, or their very own hand-selected barrel of Whistle Pig. Up the street, 940’s brings an upscale, industrial bar experience where you can enjoy a tailor-made drink or even a cocktail on tap. The crew at Wine Squared is always open to exploring the wine menu along with you, offering samples and recommendations to help make the selections accessible without the “stuffy” attitude. Barley & Board, a new character among the cast of Denton favorites, offers an original cocktail list crafted by their bar staff in addition to the 36 draft beers you’ll find on offer. With the mélange of creative forces, it only makes sense to bring USBG here to Lil’ D. 

The vision for Denton’s USBG chapter is to allow each member an opportunity to better themselves in their respective fields while strengthening new skills outside of their comfort zone. After all, Denton is a community that supports local, and actively backs brother and sister establishments for their unique contribution to the public. As Dean points out, “We already hang out together as a community, so why not grow with each other and learn together.

After Denton recruits it’s first 40 members, the chapter can officially become active, then the fun can begin. Members will have the opportunity to participate in local, and national level competitions. Who wouldn’t want to see the guys from Oak Street head-to-head with the team from Mulberry St Cantina?  Brand ambassadors representing top liquor companies can come to town and educate the Denton chapter on shifting trends in the world of cocktails. “That’s part of the USBG, staying ahead of the trends. It’s educational whether you’re working with liquor, beer, wine, or cocktails. Brand ambassadors are offering their services to educate us because we’re the ones on the front lines selling their product,” Dean says. “The better we are in this industry, the better Denton is.” Once voted in, the chapter council will organize pub crawls, educational seminars, and fundraisers. Finally, Denton can take its place among cities like Austin, San Antonio and Houston, and prove what we already know: bigger doesn’t mean better. After all, here in Denton, it’s not necessarily the size of the drink, but the strength of the spirit. 

If you’re interested in a taste of what USBG has to offer, please join us on Monday, August 22nd for a free event. All attendees will participate in educational courses, tastings, and even an Old Fashioned Mix-Off. 

Here’s a look at the schedule:
2:30 - Check-In @ Hannah’s Off the Square
3:00 - Wine Education Course with Shawn Croft of Pioneer Wine Company @ Hannah’s
4:00 - Old Fashioned Mix-Off Sponsored by Four Roses @ 940’s Kitchen & Cocktails
5:00 - Ford’s Gin Education Course with Omar Yeefoon of 86 Company @ The Paschall Bar
6:00 - Local Craft Beer Tasting & Mixer @ Eastside Denton

Please check the USBG Denton Facebook page for more information. If you wish to confirm attendance, email the chapter committee at usbgdenton@gmail.com.