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Robbie York (ABJ ’05) talks NYC, American Whiskey, and UGA

Robbie York, 40 Under 40

Robbie York is presented with a UGA 40 Under 40 award alongside UGA President Jere W. Morehead (JD ’80) (left) and Brian Dill (AB ’94, MBA ’19), president of the UGA Alumni Association.

Robbie York (ABJ ’05) is a Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication graduate who lives in New York City and owns the official UGA venue in the Big Apple, American Whiskey. American Whiskey is the “home” of the NYC alumni chapter’s game-watching parties. In September, Robbie was recognized as a 40 Under 40 honoree by the UGA Alumni Association. We caught up with Robbie to learn more about how he’s helping foster a spirit of camaraderie and Bulldog spirit in the city that never sleeps.

How long have you lived in NYC?

Almost 14 years.

When did you open American Whiskey?

We are in the middle of our seventh year.

How long have the NYC Dawgs hosted game-watching parties at American Whiskey?

All 7 years. We hosted at another location for 6 years before that.

Did you open American Whiskey with the hope it would become NYC’s top UGA venue?

We definitely courted NYC Dawgs to come with us from a previous location. This was not only due to my affiliation and passion for the University of Georgia, but we (my partners and I) have always enjoyed the crowd and spirit of the game-watching parties. The answer is that we were hoping that the NYC Dawgs would want to be our one and only game-watching crowd, and we are proud to say they are.

How have game-watching parties grown since you started hosting them?

They have definitely grown over the years, I would say that this was due to many factors. Winning seasons help. Social media is a lot more prevalent than it used to be. We like to think that we make the party better every year. Improvements include menu changes, drink special updates, and little details (playlists, decor, etc) that add extra touches for everyone who visits.

What makes Saturdays in NYC special?

New York City is a difficult place to make it. So when you’ve had a hard week of work and the stress that goes along with it, Saturdays at American Whiskey become a place to cheer with your friends, meet other folks trying to survive in NYC, and find a common bond–which in this case is Georgia Football.

American Whiskey

A photo of American Whiskey, courtesy of Moreen Construction.

How does being a UGA alumnus impact the relationship between American Whiskey and the NYC alumni chapter?

I try my best to allow NYC Dawgs the accessibility of AW as much as possible. We offer our space for all events with no minimum, so it allows the chapter to have flexibility that very few volunteer organizations enjoy. I also work hard at using my status as an owner to leverage food and beverage brands to donate and help sponsor other events.

What’s the best part of hosting game-watching parties?

The excitement and joy that people share with each other. I love seeing people who get as excited for a touchdown as they do seeing someone in AW that they haven’t seen since college. Helping people make connections is the most special part of being there.

What’s something people might not know about NYC’s game-watching parties at American Whiskey?

We play Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” when we win, immediately after the 4th quarter. Lots of people who are here know that, however, it came about from the happy accident of the music getting stuck in our internal system, and those songs being next in line.

Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12) and the secret to a soapy success

mallory o'brien

Mallory O’Brien is a UGA alumna and the brain behind Irish Spring’s Twitter account. Photo: Peter Frey

While the Bulldogs earned a “W” versus Notre Dame last month, one surprising brand also took home a marketing ‘win.’ Irish Spring, a popular soap line, enjoyed 15 minutes of internet fame thanks to an idea from Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12), the co-vice president for the NYC Dawgs and a social media community manager at Colgate-Palmolive, Irish Spring’s corporate parent.

After Georgia-based grocery chain Dill’s Food City announced in a now-viral post that it wouldn’t sell Irish Spring prior to the game against the Fighting Irish, Mallory had some great ideas that led to the brand reacting accordingly. 

no irish springs

A photo from the Dill City Food Facebook post that went viral.

Though there had never been a reason for Irish Spring to need a Twitter presence, this turned into the perfect opportunity to start a social media storm. Now verified with over 3,000 followers, the account has been an immediate success. 

In Irish Spring’s second tweet ever, the brand poked fun at the grocery store and claimed they were about to send a whole lot of soap to Athens. This gained almost 3,000 retweets and over 16,000 likes.

Irish Spring

Irish Springs sent quite a few packages to Athens. Photo via Irish Springs Twitter.

Irish Spring jumped head-first into the social media space, but followed only four accounts–the University of Georgia being one of them. But this wasn’t the brand’s only impact on the internet. Mallory suggested sending brand ambassadors to campus for that glorious–and crowded–football Saturday in Athens.

Irish Spring

Campus ambassadors for Irish Spring visited Athens with gifts. Photo via Irish Spring’s Twitter.

Who would have anticipated that a Bulldog was behind this campaign from ‘up north?’ Surprising as it may be, we know that all great things start at the University of Georgia.

Here’s to good, clean fun and a Georgia win!

UGA celebrates a Peabody weekend in the City that Never Sleeps

This post was contributed by former DAR communications intern Asia Casey.

The University of Georgia hosted various events in New York City that led up to the 77th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony on May 19. The event was hosted by Hasan Minhaj, comedian, writer and senior correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

Minaj, award recipient for his comedy special “Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King,” served up laughs as well as praise for the program’s mission. “When we talk about hearts and minds, we’re talking about the Peabodys. When we talk about accountability, we’re talking about the Peabodys,” he said in his opening monologue.

Since 1940, the University of Georgia has been home to the most prestigious honor in broadcast media, the Peabody Awards. Housed in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Peabody is a cultural institution with international reach that each year identifies the most compelling stories across media platforms and genres.

The award program is the oldest major electronic media award in the United States. Winners were selected from approximately 1,200 entries from television, radio/podcasts and the web.

To kick off the weekend, Bonney Shuman, UGA Alumni Association board president, and her daughter visited Tibi, the successful fashion brand that was launched by Amy Smilovic (ABJ ’89).

New York City alumni and chapter leaders gathered at Mykonos Blue

The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, School of Public and International Affairs, and UGA Alumni Association hosted a reception and networking event for all New York City alumni on May 17. There are currently more than 6,100 alumni living in the New York area.

The day before the awards, President Morehead hosted a reception and dinner with alumni and donors to celebrate the award ceremony.

A couple of our alumni met “Gilmore Girls” star Alexis Bledel!

By the end of the weekend, 30 award winners from seven media categories took home their well-deserved Peabody Awards.

Carol Burnett, a beloved TV icon who won her first Peabody in 1962, was honored with the first-ever Peabody Career Achievement Award presented by Mercedes-Benz. Visit peabodyawards.com for the full list of winners.