Announcing the 3rd Annual BarCentennial
In the last few years, tending bar has slowly gained public acceptance as a legitimate career, instead of a temporary position people take up in between a hunt for “real jobs.” While this comes as a welcome change in terms of legitimizing a means of employment, it doesn’t necessarily translate into financial gain or employee benefits: most bartenders don’t receive health insurance, and make the majority of their income off of tips–which makes affording insurance almost out of the question. Working late hours constantly on your feet can wear away at the health of even the hardiest individual, though; so what’s a hard-working bartender to do when taking a sick day is out of the question? Luckily for New Orleans bartenders, The New Orleans Musicians Clinic and Assistance Foundation has your exact situation in mind, and they’re dedicated to providing the resources you need to maintain a healthful lifestyle.
As an organization, the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and Assistance Foundation is fairly revolutionary. Founded in 1998, the NOMC/NOMAF distinguishes itself as the 1st clinic in the United States devoted to providing comprehensive clinical care for musicians, bartenders, and other cultural workers in the city of New Orleans–a city whose culture thrives as a result of the work these community members perform on a daily basis. The NOMC/NOMAF recognizes the unique lifestyle challenges that can make it difficult for members of the nightlife community to receive adequate health care (late hours, difficulty in taking time off, and low wages), and takes care to design its services around surmounting those issues. The success of the organization is immediately evident: over 2,500 patients are currently receiving primary medical care through the LSU Health Sciences Center as a result of NOMC/NOMAF’s hard work. Of course, as an organization centered around members of the hospitality and entertainment industries, the NOMC/NOMAF understands that healthcare doesn’t always have to be a somber issue, and it’s that mindset that led to the creation of the annual BarCentennial Event.
One one level, the BarCentennial functions as a community health fair for the hard-working cultural contributors of New Orleans, providing free flu shots, insurance enrollment plans, mental health resources, HIV screening, and other wellness services (ear acupuncture, anyone?) to those who attend. However, one element elevates the BarCentennial above your everyday health fair: an all-out cocktail tournament that has local bartenders competing for the honor of being named the BarCentennial NOLA Champion. The rules are simple: competitors are assigned a brand, then challenged to come up with an original cocktail using said brand within a set amount of time. Then, their creations will be evaluated by a panel of three local celebrity judges (Nicholas Peyton, B.E. Mintz, and Ann Maloney) on the basis of taste, technique, and creativity; the bartender whose cocktail exemplifies these criteria will be crowned the champion. And don’t worry, there’s still plenty of fun to be had for those not actively competing in the event: tasting tables with pre-batched cocktails from the competitors will be set up for participants to sample, then vote on to decide the BarCentennial NOLA Crowd Favorite.
Whether you’re a member of the nightlife community of New Orleans, or you just want to show your support (and taste some well-made cocktails), head over to the Blue Nile on Frenchman at 6 PM on Monday, November 13th for a free evening of entertainment, drinks, and flu shots. Remember, New Orleans wouldn’t be New Orleans if its musicians and bartenders were too sick to work, so let’s show some support for the organization that keeps them healthy. If you're interested in learning more about BarCentennial, be sure to check out the Facebook event here.