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Become A Professor Of Mixology

Bartenders International grads serve at

Long Island watering holes

For every club, restaurant, or neighborhood bar you might wander into after a long hard week, the experience just wouldn’t work without one vital piece of the puzzle—an experienced bartender slinging drinks and keeping customers happy.

However, those bartenders don’t just grow on trees; they are carefully crafted into drink-mixing machines by people such as Drew Vaughn, owner of Bartenders International of Hicksville. Opening its doors in 2002, Bartenders International specializes in both training and job placement in the industry, and has developed a reputation over the years for consistently churning out the right people for the right job.

A North Babylon native, Vaughn has a long history himself in the local bartending scene. But after nearly 20 years in the business, he decided that a change was in order.

“I bartended a long time at clubs all across Long Island and I loved doing it,” he said. “However, now I don’t want to go out until four in the morning every night. While teaching this class two nights a week, I get to meet people, have fun, make drinks, and help people find work. It was a good business opportunity.”

While Vaughn does instruct students in the fine art of mixing all manner of alcoholic concoctions, he said that Bartenders International primarily functions as a job placement association.

“It’s like a union, people join because they want to work. After all, there’s no reason to go to bartending school unless you want to get a bartending job,” Vaughn said. “People join this association and we help them to find jobs. And bars call me all the time, because I advertise to them and try to get their business.”

But before he makes a recommendation, Vaughn said that he needs to watch potential bartenders at work; how they make drinks, how they interact with customers and so on. In any given class, he will have some students working behind the bar and the rest posing as customers. He will then observe the prospective bartenders as they’re put through the paces.

“People need to come in and have at least eight hours under my supervision. Then, if they still need more time to develop, they can come in every day,” he said. “It’s like joining a gym. At a gym, you’re not paying to take an aerobics class, you’re paying to be a member of the gym. You can take as many aerobics classes as you want. It’s the same principle here, not everyone catches on right away, so they can come back in and practice as much as they want.”

Takemah Williams of Hempstead was only two hours into her first-ever class at Bartenders International, but she was already mixing drinks like a champ.

“I’ve never bartended before,” she said. “It’s easier than I thought it would be because Drew is a great teacher. He’s nice and he knows a lot.”  

Shirley resident Samantha Cuomo was on her second day of classes, and considering the social aspect of bartending, she figures it’s a natural fit for her personality.

“I like talking to people and meeting new people, so I thought I’d give this a try,” she said. “Drew makes you feel very comfortable and lays everything out for you step-by-step, and goes over all the drinks from top to bottom. I would totally recommend him for anyone wanting to get into the business.”

When it comes to generating business, Vaughn said that he has developed strong word-of-mouth over the years for a simple reason— he gets results for his students and members.

“People usually have a great time here and they enjoy it. But what’s most important is that we find them work, so they recommend us to other people, and I get a lot of referrals,” he said. “Sure, we get some people with no experience at all who want to learn how to mix some drinks, but most people don’t come in here because they need a bartending school—they come in here because they need a job. And we can get them those jobs.”

Find out more about Bartenders International at www.bartendersinternational.com.

News

Vastra boutique finds a niche

in hand-embroidered dresses

Who says a bride has to wear white on her wedding day? For South Asian brides, no color is off limits including brilliant reds, blues and golds. For the past 17 years, Vastra in Hicksville has been helping brides from New York and across the country find the perfect dress for their special day.

There’s no lack of Indian sari boutiques in Hicksville but according to Marketing Director Prachi Jain, what sets Vastra apart from the others is its emphasis on one of a kind, hand-embroidered Indian dresses.

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com