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February 13, 2013

What’s with this title?
By Francine Cohen

InsideF&B OpEd Header

This column was born out of journalistic frustration that reached a boiling point. This was after one too many press releases hit the old inbox touting holiday/special event themed cocktail recipes created by, as the publicist sending the release noted, “Master Mixologist insert name here created these signature cocktails for our brand.”

Master Mixologist? Huh? Is that “Master” title anything like the “Master Plumber” title appropriated by the guy in the tax prep company’s commercial who confuses the husband in his kitchen because the two guys first met a week before when the now “Master” plumber was doing the husband’s taxes? Well, not if you ask a Master Plumber. They actually have to have years of apprenticeship and training to call themselves that.

So, back to wetting your pipes, instead of clearing them; we want to know, what the heck does that “Master Mixologist” title mean and who conferred it? Aside from the USBG – which we’ll come back to in a moment – its not as if there are numerous accredited graduate degree programs at universities, the traditional US standard bearers for educational degrees with their alphabet soup shorthand (e.g. BA, BS, MA, PhD, etc.), conferring a Master Mixologist title.

The wine world has such an accepted body; the Court of Master Sommeliers which, through its reputedly rigororous training, names a limited number of skilled wine professionals as “Master Sommelier.”

But where oh where does one go to study and attain this title when they’ve spent their career behind the bar? The USBG offers spirits testing that upon successful completion confers an earned title of “Master.” Livio Lauro, President of the USBG’s MA program, notes, “The program launched in 2009 and we currently have 118 spirits professionals (level 1), 7 advanced bartenders (level 2) and will start our first round of USBG master mixologists in the second half of 2013. This exam will be open to our current 7 advanced bartenders plus any new advanced bartenders that may graduate between now and then.”

Needless to say, none of their names have ever been referenced in these press releases we’ve received. So it leads to the question of why bartenders are being touted as “Master Mixologists” and whether we allow the perpetrators of this title (I.e. PR teams who present it and the media who accept and repeat it) to continue fooling their readers with it.

Let’s take a stand for the sanctity of bartending and marketing and professionalism and demand Continue Reading…



July 14, 2011

Knowing what gets you featured in the press
By Francine Cohen
All photos courtesy of Lush Life Productions and Alia Akkam of Beverage Media ( and I shared with the USBG New York Chapter members recently at a monthly meeting held at Macao Trading Company ( as Lee introduced her PR 101 program. In short…RETURN MEDIA QUERIES!

Seriously, people. Wonder why so and so is getting all the press and you’ve worked longer or harder than they have and never get featured? Hmmm, maybe that’s because when the media calls, you don’t respond. Or maybe it’s because they don’t know how to find you. Well, that stinks. But it’s easy enough to change.

If you walk away with only two things from this story, remember this: 1) Return media queries (as noted above) and 2) Content is king.

What does this mean exactly? Well, if you want people to respect you, talk about you Continue Reading…



July 21, 2010

CKTL JAM NYC Is The Center Of New Drink Development
By Francine Cohen

These past few months have been jam packed with spirited events – everything from Japanese bartending techniques, to the blow out MCC, Latin inspired drinks served up at the Gourmet Latino Festival, The Bar and Wine Show, and finally, the crowning jewel of the season’s liquid events calendar – CKTL JAM.

John Henry, PipeLine Partner put this event together at Astor Center ( with the intention off offering the tri-state area’s bartenders a no-holds-barred place in which to experiment and learn from their fellow bartenders, all while having a whole lot of fun. For brands it’s an organic and laid back opportunity to get their product into the hands of bartenders who could serve as unofficial ambassadors as they are pouring the things they like for their customers. Henry says, “I want this ‘spring into summer’ cktl jam event to stand out as a fun pre-summer and pre-Tales reunion bash. It’s a place to come out and play with fellow bartenders.”

Bartenders were hosted at Astor Center for this event co-founded by PipeLine Brands which has quickly become a bi-annual showcase of the best artisanal brands. Playing behind the bar gets puts new and favorite brands into the hands of most creative mixologists, giving them a chance to explore Continue Reading…



April 14, 2010

Tax day is the deadline for entries into the Milagro USBG Tales of the Cocktail 2010 competition
By Francine Cohen

Just like taxes, but much much tastier, the deadline is looming for entry into this year’s Tales of the Cocktail USBG competition. Kicking off the fun on Friday, July 23rd this annual competition will feature USBG members mixing up their variations of a margarita with Milagro tequila as the key ingredient that shines through.
Entries are due in tomorrow, tax day (aka April 15th). Competition guidelines and an entry form are below.
Good luck!


USBG Milagro Tequila Margarita Competition

Location: The Board of Trade (316 Magazine Street)
New Orleans, LA
Date: Friday, July 23, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. with set-up beginning at 12:00 p.m. for competitors

Drink Submission
Each recipe must feature Milagro Tequila
Each chapter will receive sample bottles of Milagro Tequila Silver to each chapter president’s house for use during experimentation and recipe creation
Other spirits may be used as modifiers – As long as Milagro Tequila shines through
Continue Reading…



February 26, 2010

DonQ International Rum Competition, World Cocktail Week, Nouveau Sake, Stinky Cheese

2/1-6/21  DONQ RUM/ USBG Competition – Regional, Semi-Finals, International

Regionals – February 1-April 15

USBG chapters holding local cocktail competitions using DonQ Rum .  Regional winners, who are announced on 4/16, will each receive a DonQ Rum kit, a trip for 1 to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic including roundtrip coach airfare and hotel, and the right to compete at the Semi-Finals held at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic on 4/17.

National Semi-Finals – April 17 (New York City)

Held at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic on 4/17, drinks will be judged by a jury panel to determine the 3-5 finalists who will comprise the USBG US Drink Team to represent the USBG at the Finals in Puerto Rico.  Crowd favorite cocktail determined by attendees. US Drink Team receives Continue Reading…