Support Your Local USBG Chapter
For the past year, I have been working with many of my beloved industry comrades to establish the Omaha-Lincoln chapter of the Unites States Bartenders’ Guild. For those who are not familiar, the USBG is our domestic branch of the IBA, the International Bartenders’ Association. These organizations are primarily dedicated to establishing/maintaining the profession of tending bar through comprehensive product and etiquette training, incredible networking opportunities, access to healthcare benefits, and both national and international competition platforms, all for less than $10 per month in membership fees!
I first became aware of the USBG a few years ago, and was particularly drawn to the fact that they offered access to healthcare with group rates. In the face of Obamacare, that aspect of the USBG has lost some of its luster, but I have since become obsessed with the nearly sublime networking aspects of USBG membership.
As soon as I joined the USBG, I also became a blogger on the USBG Pulse site, which is only accessible to members. The best way to describe Pulse is a Facebook page specifically for serious bartenders and industry personnel. Whether you work at a dive, resort, beer, wine, sports, or craft cocktail bar, the Pulse site offers an accessible pool of experienced people who are glad to share their knowledge and advice constructively and free of charge.
A short time later, and still trying to spread the word about our potential chapter, I applied and was accepted to attend Portland Cocktail Week, an AWESOME week-long, education-centered event for serious bar folk/geeks. I am pretty certain that my name, in association with my blog (Bombay Sappho) on the Pulse site, played a role in my acceptance to attend. I chose to attend classes based on the theme of product development, as I was developing a business plan to sell my pre-prohibition style tonic syrups commercially.
I nearly talked myself out of the trip based on the travel and hotel expenses, but I am SO THANKFUL that I went, for the incredible connections I made there with folks who have become integral in the formation of my tonic company, Rabbit and Turtle Beverage Corp. One of these connections has resulted in a reference to my product in Saveur magazine out of Brooklyn, NY. The same connection resulted in the demoing of my product to a national chain restaurant looking to expand their craft cocktail program. The gears are turning to feature my product, Colonel Jesse’s Small Batch Tonic, on their menu. These blessings have all been afforded to me as a result of my USBG membership.
The USBG Omaha-Lincoln chapter is currently in pending status; we are 26 members strong, but need to reach 40 members before our chapter can be officially recognized. Whether you are a career bartender, a beer or cocktail enthusiast, sales rep, or other industry professional, I urge you to invest the very small amount in yourself to become a USBG member today. If you are interested in becoming a member, or simply want more information, go to USBG.org, or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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