Today, on April 15th, while the United States is busy mourning Tax Day, the Argentineans are celebrating Bartender’s Day. Here’s the story as related to me by my friend Federico Cuco:
Sixty-nine years ago today, a group of young bartenders from Buenos Aires met for a dinner hosted by the magazine The Barman (the first ever Spanish-speaking bar trade magazine, founded in 1936). It was at this dinner that they decided to form the brotherhood of Argentine bartenders, baptized with the name ‘AMBA’ (Association Mutual Barmen Argentinos). A friend of the group’s designed the rooster logo (which, obviously stood for the cocktail) on a shaker with the initials of the association. Several years later, in 1947, the boys from AMBA bought a house in the neighborhood of San Cristobal that remains today as a gathering place for all Argentinean bartenders.
In those years, a boy named James Policastro, who they called ‘Pichin’ won a radio contest called “Cocktail of the Day” that aired on Sundays after football in a bar near Avenida Corrientes. The kid was fashionable, trendy, and always rocked a winning smile and an impeccable white coat. The local prize was a trip to Europe, and he later returned with a first prize trophy from the competition in Bern, Switzerland, which had been organized by the IBA (International Bartenders Association).
Upon his return to Argentina he donated the trophy to that little house in San Cristobal and urged his colleagues to connect Argentina to the rest of the worldwide comminuty and join the IBA. In 1956, Argentina entered into the IBA and we were the first country outside of Europe to be part of it, and the twelfth country in the world to join.
In the words of my friend Federico:
And that’s what we celebrate today. The friendship, which led to a group of young Argentines, to unite and try to be every day a little better in their profession. But today we celebrate all the bartenders, who work behind the bar, with pride and humility. So as we say in Spanish, “Feliz dia del barman, amigos.”
Happy Bartender’s Day, Argentina.