A group of 20 area bartenders, bar managers, brewers and other service and beverage industry workers met on Jan. 16 at Gia restaurant in Greensboro to form an alliance that will unite Triad bars and restaurants and their employees.

“Right now, we’re all just a bunch of silos,” said Nino Giaimo, mixologist and owner of Gia.

But that is quickly changing. The group, which currently calls itself Triad Beverage Alliance, had met only once before the meeting at Gia last week and is already moving in the direction of its lofty objectives.

“We want to better our community, restaurants and bars,” said Casey Clanton, a bartender at LaRue Elm in downtown Greensboro. “By building the Triad service industry, we can promote the area so outsiders will learn about and visit our community.”

One step in putting the Triad on the map is for Triad Beverage Alliance to apply to the US Bartenders’ Guild, a national nonprofit created for bartenders to learn more about their craft and grow professionally. Applying involves submitting a list of at least 50 interested individuals, determining four founding members and nominating temporary officers, all of which Triad Beverage Alliance is currently in the process of doing. Eventually, the organization will open a bank account and secure office space.

Another attainable goal is to set up a nonprofit, which will enable the group to host events in the Triad, both private and public. Private events will range from social to professional, including classes on basic bartending skills and the Certified Specialist of Wine exam.

Events for the public will be the primary way of uniting the community at large. The group hopes to offer cocktail classes focused on themes like gin or scotch, monthly dinners at rotating restaurants, themed dine-out weeks and a passport book to area restaurants and bars.

With proceeds from public events, the creation of a nonprofit could fund many of the professional-development needs of service-industry members. Ideas flowed quickly and furiously at the meeting, with mentions of BevCon, the annual beverage industry conference, and Tales of the Cocktail, the international cocktail festival in New Orleans. Others raised cocktail competitions, the cicerone exam and industry-standards training like TIPS, which teaches employees to prevent overintoxication, drunk driving and underage drinking. Several meeting attendees supported better access to health insurance, though details were not discussed.

Another great idea: funding Triad distillers and brewers in the creation of specialty products like an authentic Old Tom Gin or Crème de Violette. There was also talk of Service Industry Nights — designated Sunday or Monday nights when service industry professionals receive discounts at participating locations.[pullquote]Attend the next meeting on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at Breathe Cocktail Lounge, located at 221 N. Main St. Kernersville. Contact [email protected] for more info.[/pullquote]

After the meeting, the alliance created a closed Facebook group and a team workflow management account through Slack. The ease of communication will come in handy not just for planning events and putting initial organizational pieces into place, but for splitting cases (sharing the cost and stock of a specialty item) and sharing bartenders (which helps accommodate fluctuating demand and gives barkeeps exposure to new populations).

Once the group gains its US Bartenders’ Guild member status, they’ll need at least 40 paying individuals to qualify as an officially chartered chapter. Those directly associated with the service and beverage industries will pay $125 annually for membership; enthusiasts and other third parties will owe $150 per year. It’s a small price for a more robust, connected and exciting local booze scene.

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