Employer and position you were in when you first joined the USBG?
I was employed at a Restaurant named Hunting Horn as the Night Bartender and was a member of the UKBG -California Bartenders Guild so we were members of England.
Why did you originally join the USBG?
I join the Guild by coincidence, I ask my mentor and Bar Manager (Sam Mays) who was a member, about making a Club of Bartenders and he told me there is one! He asked if I would like to join, and of course, the rest is History.
What has been the biggest change in your life since becoming a member?
In those days when you became a member, you were critiqued by people who didn’t know you. They gave a report on you to the Council and then the Council would vote on whether you could join, according to your performance. Your performance had to be impeccable. They considered your service, knowledge of drink recipes and the quality of your cocktails; in addition to how you presented yourself – crisp shirt, shoes that were shined daily, clean nails, etc.
I consider myself to be a Barman. The Guild helped me become a more elegant, congenial entertainer, and a better person.
How has the USBG influenced your career and your life over the past years?
The U.S.B.G. has given me many opportunities as a Bartender. I have won some competition championships. I am the only Bartender of the USBG to win 3rd place in an IBA Championship which was celebrated in Austria. I was a founder of the USBG and became the USBG President and member of the council for many years. I was also the North-America IBA V.P. for 14 years! I am a member of the IBA Hall of Fame and the founder of the IBA-Pan-American. I am an Angelo Zola awarded member, and a member of the Bartenders’ Magazine Hall of Fame.
Do you have a USBG memorable experience you'd like to share?
Yes, the most and more memorable are indeed the old days when the Guild was more of a Brotherhood organization, where you looked forward every Month for our Luncheon Meeting which was every first Monday of each month. You would hear the last joke in vogue and learn the lastest concoctions. Those were the nicest days and the most congenial bunch of Bartenders you ever see.
Who has been the greatest influence to you and why?
The Old members, they personality, their charisma, their teaching.
Words of wisdom for our new members?
We had a Member of origin Argentinean-Italian by the Name Santiago Policastro (Pichin )
who said in his Bar Creed:
1. The Barman is an Artist and the Cocktails are the ART which gets his Nutrients from the spirit, flavor, smell, and color.
2. The Barman mission is to entertain, make a happy environment, NOT to inebriate.
3. Make a friend out of customer. DON'T make customer out of a friend.
4. Do not give a drink without a smile.
5. Speak just the necessary, do not lessen what's not important to you, nor forget the friend’s confidences.
6. Be the most clean and elegant; be the most cordial, the finest, in every moment and every place.
7. Do not cheat on the drinks nor play with your friends confidence, always serve the best
8. Be patient with those who help you in the Bar. Teach them your professionalism with love. Don't lie to them.
9. Keep the flame of the solidarity with the profession and do not let anybody break it.
10. Feel the honor of being a Bartender but learn to earn.
This Gentleman was one of the greatest Master-Mixologists of the World and he was a member of the USBG.
Please share some fun facts about yourself that you would like other members to know about you.
Two times I had a great and fun memories, one with Mr. Lee Trevino in Santa Anita Park. I was looking somewhere, when I see in front of me, there he was Mr. Trevino (Famous Golfer). I told him I made a drink after him called Irish-Mex. He had an entourage of approximately 15 people and he said to me, well Mr. Bartender make my drink for all of them. I had to tell him that I didn’t have the ingredients.
And the other one was with Mr. Mel-Brooks, Comedian, Writer, and Actor. I told Mr. Brooks I am a very fond of him and I expressed myself very happily. He, with a very sober face, says to me - I am very sorry Jose, I don’t know how to make you feel better.