Honoring “everyday” heroes: military personnel, police officers and firefighters

THE CLIENTELE OF A RESTAURANT OR watering hole typically mirrors its community, including its “everyday heroes.” More and more we notice that proprietors in the food and drink business—restaurateurs, winemakers, bar owners—are reaching out to “everyday heroes,” including military personnel, police officers or firefighters, in unique ways.

On a recent visit to the Golden Era lounge in Nevada City, we met Fire Captain Pat Sullivan. He pointed to a bottle of George Dickel whiskey at the bar, with a leather notebook beside it, and told us the tradition of this “squadron bottle.”

Squadron bottles, as they are known, are legendary at establishments such as the Top of the Mark in San Francisco. World War II service- men would visit the The Mark and ask the bartender for their unit’s squadron bottle. Once the serviceman signed his name in a log book, he could drink from the bottle for free. There was only one catch: whoever took the last drink had to replace the bottle.

Now the tradition is celebrated at the Golden Era—this time honoring local firefighters. Pat learned about the “squadron bottle” from his dad, a World War II veteran, and he suggested it to the Golden Era’s owners, Steve and Cindy Giardina. They readily agreed and now the bottle sits at the bar. The notations in the notebook are inspiring to read: typically words of thanks for extinguishing various local fires.

The Nevada City Winery also is honoring its “everyday heroes” with wine and wine labels. The winery’s new Rüdiger Red (2014 Sierra Foothills zinfandel) and Rüdiger White (2014 Sierra Foothills chardonnay) are named after the “canine officer” of the Nevada City Police Department. They were created by the winery’s award-winning winemaker Mark Foster. Ten percent of the proceeds from the Rüdiger wine supports the community funded K9 “police officer” program.

Rüdiger’s image is the handiwork of local dog artist Kathryn Wronski, often featured in our magazine. The original painting of Rüdiger is going to hang in Nevada City Hall. In Hollywood, Kathryn’s artwork also has been on the set of popular TV sitcoms including “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

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