Kim Haasarud: What Phoenix's Cocktail Scene Needs and the Perks of USBG Membership
As a mother and Phoenix's U.S. Bartenders' Guild president, Kim Haasarud is used to wrangling and organizing. Her experience in cocktail bars began as a way to supplement her income in the '90s. Since then, she's become a well-known player in cocktail scenes from New York to L.A., putting her at the forefront of cocktails' resurgence.
Courtesy of the USBG Kim Haasarud says consistency is key.
With eight published cocktail books, a nod for her mixology work from the James Beard Foundation, and a mixology column in Redbook, Haasarud might just be one of the most knowledgeable people in the Phoenix cocktail community, but unless you're an industry-type, it's unlikely you have heard of her. It's time to change that.
You may not know her by name, but for spirit enthusiasts, Haasarud's work has expanded the cocktail culture in Phoenix exponentially in the four years she's lived in the Valley. As current USBG president and organizer for Arizona Cocktail Week, she's infused her energy and momentum into planning events, tastings, competitions, and seminars for people in the industry and cocktail enthusiasts who are just looking to learn more.
Admittedly, USBG membership seems a little inside baseball, but Haasarud explains that the $100 annual fee easily pays for itself if you're looking to attend seminars and workshops throughout the year. Plus, the AZCW discount for members is pretty good too.
Heather Hoch Teams of three mix up cocktails at a USBG event.
Expanding USBG membership is one of Haasarud's main goals right now. Events like last Saturday's cocktail competition at the Old Town Farmers Market help burgeon interest in the guild with free public tastings and an insight in the creative process behind the bar.
At the event, teams of three had $50 to spend on raw ingredients from the farmers market. They then had 30 minutes and their choice of Finlandia vodka to craft an aromatic, fresh, and locally-focused cocktail that was both visually appealing and tasty. With ingredients like duck eggs, basil, peaches, honey, and more, teams juiced and mixed off the cuff.