I’ve just learned that a group of Oregon bartenders have gotten together and formed a guild. Charter members include Lance Mayhew from Merriwether’s, Kevin Ludwig (previously of Park Kitchen, now working Monday nights at Clyde Common until his new restaurant Beaker & Flask opens), Jeff Morganthaler (Eugene), Kelly Swenson (Ten 01), Charlie Hodges (Clyde Common), David Shenault (Teardrop), Daniel Shoemaker (Teardrop), and Greg Hoitsma (Andina).
They are taking this very seriously, and have come up with a list of objectives:
- To establish a collaborative community of bartenders within the state of Oregon.
- Increase the overall knowledge of beer, wine, spirits and cocktail production for the betterment of their craft
- To promote awareness of the craft within the public community, through both a developed relationship with the media and an educational platform to the general populace.
- To secure a congenial relationship with the OLCC, its agents and liquor companies to advance the procurement of more specialized and artisanal spirits in their portfolios.
- To promote a wider, i.e., national and international recognition of Oregon’s premier mixology.
They will be scheduling a series of events and seminars in the New Year, which will include anything from a focus on a specific spirit, regional cocktails & history, as well as one dedicated exclusively to Jerry Thomas.
If you are interested in supporting this group and learning along the way, attend one of their events. The first of these will take place on Sunday, January 27 @ TearDrop Lounge. It will be a gin seminar, led by Kevin, Kelley & David, featuring local distillers (House Spirits, hopefully Integrity & others), examining how different styles of a single spirit express themselves in both classic & new recipes. It’s a fundraiser for the Guild, with 40 seats @ $50 per person. Taxi not included.
Portland has frequently been on the cutting edge of the national cocktail scene. Every one of these bartenders (If they start calling themselves “mixologists”, I’m gonna drop all my support), have made great contributions to the Portland market. With a core group like this, things are going to get even more interesting. These aren’t Pineapple Martini people, but rather folks who are truly interested in advancing the craft and art of bartending – bringing back classics, matching the right brand of spirit with a specific drink, developing quality mixers and bitters… the list goes on. I’m happy to support them.