Giving Thanks to our Philanthropic Bartending Community!

As we prepare for our Thanksgiving feasts, it is a time to give thanks for what we have. It is also a time to give. And I want to take a moment to applaud the bartending community who continues to give and give and give to help others, whether individuals or strangers. I am proud be affiliated with this industry and community of people who like to have fun but never lose sight of helping those in need.  Here are four remarkable examples.

Helping Children

“This business is what we have chosen as our career.  We do something that makes us happy and I love bartending. We provide a service to people on a daily basis. But, I want to find meaning in what I do, something I can pass on to my family and kids,” explained Josh Harris of The Bon Vivants, the San Francisco-based cocktailing company.  They created Pig & Punch, a party with whole roasted pig, trash cans of punch and t-shirts for sale that follows a day of volunteering at a local charter school.  Started three years ago at Tales of the Cocktail, this year they organized the event three times around the country – in May 2012 at Manhattan Cocktail Classic, in July 2012 at Tales of the Cocktail and in October 2012 at Portland Cocktail Week.

For the first year hosting in Portland, forty seven bartenders (the second largest amount of volunteers to date) spent a day doing neighborhood clean-up, removing graffiti within a 5-block radius, repainting bathrooms, checking batteries and lights, recycling and donating to goodwill.  From t-shirt sales alone, over $4500 was raised for the LEP High School (Leadership and Entrepreneurial Public Charter High School).

Click here for more photos from Pig & Punch at Portland Cocktail Week 2012, [miniflickr photoset_id=72157632072868713&sortby=date-posted-asc&per_page=6]

For 2012, Pig & Punch has raised over $25,000 for charter schools and donated over 1000 hours of time for community work.  Click Here for more information about The Bon Vivants and Pig & Punch, and to be notified of future events.

Helping Causes

Last year, New York bartenders Lynette Marrero and Ivy Mix began Speed Rack, a national competition featuring female bartenders who compete in a timed cocktail challenge. Highlighting the strength of women in the spirits industry, the winner in each city is crowned Miss Speed Rack and sent to New York where they compete for the crown of Miss Speek Rack USA. The proceeds from each event go toward fighting breast cancer and in 2011-2012 more than $69,000 was raised for National Breast Cancer Foundation  and SHAREClick Here for more information about Speed Rack and the 2013 tour.

Helping Individuals

Murray Stenson, a Seattle bartender for more than 3 decades and 2012 Best Bartender in America, was diagnosed with a heart condition that prevents him from working.  Like many bartenders, he doesn’t have health insurance through his work.  The bartending community around the world (including Singapore, Australia and Canada) has rallied together to host more than 45 events to date to raise money to help with the associated expenses.  $64,700 has been raised and counting!  Click Here for more information about MurrayAid or to make a donation.

Helping the Community
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many bars and restaurants were closed.  Lacking power, they lost supplies and many suffered from flooding.  While the community waited for the government to respond, the USBG, the United States Bartenders Guild, worked tirelessly to get NYC back on track.  Volunteers from the NY Chapter signed up to do major cleanup and help businesses re-open and stay open. USBGNY President Jason Littrell explained that “It takes a lot of specialized equipment to clean up a flood. Generators, water pumps, carpet fans, mops, brushes, rags…you name it. All of this is being shared on the streets of the East Village. In a town with so much history, I like to think we depend on each other for survival.”

Danny Ronen and Frank Martucci, who both sit on the board of the USBG’s NCF, National Charity Foundation, a service-focused entity created to specifically focus on caring for our communities nationwide, traveled to NY to help.  Frank drove down from Providence with a van full of volunteers and more came from Boston and surrounding areas.  Danny Ronen explained “I’m VERY proud to be a member of USBG and the NCF Board right now. This is our bar community servicing the larger community at its best.”  Check out minute 5 of this clip of Rock Center from Brian Williams.

Although life has started to return to normal on the East Coast, there is still a lot of work to do and people in need.  And the bartending community continues to raise money to help.  San Francisco and Los Angeles are just two cities who have created events to raise money for USBYNY to help NY bars get back up and running.

In this time of giving thanks, I want to thank the bartending community for all of their inspiration and support for the world we live in!