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Posted by on in January 2016 Editions
The 21st Century Bartender

Balancing technical skills with the (lost?) art of hospitality.

There may never have been a better time to be a bartender. The information age has streamlined access to cocktail lore, training options abound, most restaurants are in need of skilled drink makers to create recipes and train staff, and career horizons have opened wide.

But none of that means customers have found the current level of bar service to be correspondingly elevated. True, there are now numerous bars in almost every city that serve well-crafted classic cocktails and complicated modern drinks. But in conversation with some of America’s cocktail luminaries, it becomes clear that although today’s technical skills and knowledge may never before have been as sharp, significant hospitality issues—indifferent attentiveness, glowering greetings, excess geekery, and a sneaky sense that bartenders believe some orders are beneath them—need to be tackled.

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A Look Ahead at the 2016 Maryland Legislative Session

The next General Assembly Session is just around the corner, and the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) will once again be taking a lead role in looking out for the beverage industry's interests.  This means guys like MSLBA President David Marberger and his close colleagues are expected to step up and drive the discussions.

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"We're at the rough and ready every year at this time," said the proprietor of Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits in Annapolis.  "In 2016, we plan on working very diligently at getting a really good relationship going with the Maryland microbreweries, the distilleries, and the wineries.  We really need to forge together as a cohesive unit.  There will always be some issues that we won't see eye to eye on.  But all of us coming together in this industry as an industry so we can move forward is a must and something we really want to focus on."

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Posted by on in January 2016 Editions
Mark Walker

Behind the Bar At Plug Ugly's

Mark Walker, bartender extraordinaire at Plug Ugly's Publick House in Baltimore, still remembers the first time he ever poured drinks professionally. It was on a particularly busy night at Charm City's fabled Hammerjack's, and The Alarm was rocking out on stage.  "Yeah, my first training shift was a sold-out concert," he recalled, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "There was probably around 2,000 people there.  My boss looked at me and she said, 'Well, Mark ... sink or swim!'  I guess I swam."

Walker has been doing more swimming than sinking ever since.  A lot more.  Last year, in fact, he was named one of Baltimore's 10 Best Bartenders by the Baltimore Sun.  With well over two decades of experience, Walker got his current gig at the popular O'Donnell Street restaurant and watering hole because of his longtime friendship with co-owner Tommy Welsch.  "He's a really good friend of mine," Walker said, "and I actually waited for him to open this place up for two years while I was working elsewhere.  As soon as he opened the doors, though, I started working for him."

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Posted by on in January 2016 Editions
Escutcheon Brewing Co.

"Mind Your Draft"

Most craft brewers are entrepreneurs who have an interesting back story.  The Escutcheon Brewery, located in Winchester, Virginia, is a good example of an interesting story and some interesting beers.

Escutcheon Brewing Co. started with the friendship between two guys who both really like beer. John Hovermale and Art Major met while John was working to open a different brewery in Winchester. While that venture didn't work out, their friendship did.  Together, pint after pint, the pair discussed how they would "do it the right way," were they to launch a brewery of their own.

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Casey’s Bar and Restaurant Holds Charity Golf Tourney

I always enjoy hearing about good deeds being done by members of the industry.  I came across something that is very worthy of some press.  Casey’s Bar and Restaurant in Parkville, MD recently hosted their 7th annual golf tournament in honor of three of their favorite customers on the spectrum (the Autism Spectrum) … Christina Pollizzi, CJ Manouse, and Eric Kane. 

Owners Casey Brooks and his mom, Terry Santoro started their annual golf tournament as a way for employees and patrons to get together and have fun outside of the establishment.  There was no specific charity. More recently proceeds were donated to a local church. This year, however, Casey wanted to support an organization that works to provide resources, research, and awareness to his patrons. He chose Autism Speaks and he worked hard to get sponsorships from his distributors and donations from nearby businesses. Most of all, he needed golfers.  Well, he got them, lots of them.  Casey’s efforts paid off as he raised $5,000 to benefit Walk Now for Autism Speaks: Baltimore. 

This industry is full of people and organizations giving back to their communities in very heart-warming ways.  If you or your company has conducted a fundraiser, let us know about it.  We are very happy to tout your efforts here in the Beverage Journal.

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