Dharma bum

Welcome to this week’s

Reno News & Review.

I woke up a little late this morning, but I awakened to a nice thought: I’m really lucky.

I know, I know. “Who gives a damn about Burghart’s luck?” you ask. Well, for those who haven’t noticed, this column is only about me to people who are unable to penetrate the recurring metaphor.

Due to my hardly deserved position at the helm of Northern Nevada’s favorite newspaper, people assign me a certain amount of celebrity, and so sometimes, they’ll ask me to do things: talk to groups or be a radio show guest or be a judge—for example, I’ve judged the Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry in V.C., and the Nugget’s Rib Cookoff—or to participate in silly media contests. I consider that kind of outreach part of my job, so I pretty much do anything people ask of me—as long as it doesn’t create a conflict of interest, like an acquaintance suggesting, “Brian, you should do a story promoting my business or pet project.”

At any rate, an Eldorado casino bartender, Josh Taylor, asked me to be a judge at a cocktail preparation contest at the United States Bartenders Guild kick off party at Cin Cin. The U.S.B.G., www.usbg.org, offers things like health insurance, educational support, employment opportunities, networking, etc., to pouring professionals. There is a membership fee of $100 a year. There are U.S.B.G. chapters all over the U.S., but not one in Reno. It strikes me that just the idea that bartenders at the smaller watering holes could get insurance is worthy of note.

I was a casino bartender for 13 years to pay for my education, and I hold that connection pretty close to my heart. (I never took a student loan, but the fact that I was tending bar might have had something to do with why I took all those years to get a degree.)

And so the fact I choose to help people—out of pure self-interest since it’s my job—enabled me to spend an evening sitting among attractive and skilled liquor professionals sampling delicious and original cocktails. Like I said, pure luck.