Cocktails for a Cause

With the season of giving upon us, there are a number of local drinking establishments that not only actively give back, but also provide patrons with opportunities to support and contribute as well — outside of just being entertaining drunks.

click to enlarge The Littlefield’s charity cocktail for November: the “PARticipant”
The Littlefield’s charity cocktail for November: the “PARticipant”

With the season of giving upon us, there are a number of local drinking establishments that not only actively give back, but also provide patrons with opportunities to support and contribute as well — outside of just being entertaining drunks.

The Littlefield in Northside has had philanthropic interests since opening its doors last July. “The whole idea was not just to have a place to make a living but a place that affects the community,” says part-owner and manager John Ford. “We are socially conscious people, and we’re deeply invested in Northside.”

It’s that social-consciousness and sense of investment that led The Littlefield to support a charity of its choosing each month — The Littlefield selects a nonprofit and creates a cleverly named specialty craft cocktail in its honor. That cocktail is then sold for the duration of the month, and one dollar from every drink purchased is given to the charity. You drink, they donate — it’s a win-win. Between this monthly program and its other charitable efforts, The Littlefield has donated nearly $8,000 to local causes.

For the month of November, the bar partnered with PAR-Projects, a not-for-profit, fine arts organization based in Northside. The cocktail created for this partnership was dubbed the “PARticipant” and featured Earl Grey tea-infused New Riff gin, shaken with lemon juice and vanilla simple syrup, and topped off with Angostura bitters. For December, they’re donating proceeds from an as-of-yet unnamed drink to the Walnut Hills High School Association.

Another alcohol establishment committed to giving back on a monthly basis is Fifty West Brewing Company. Like The Littlefield, Fifty West has had a sense of patronage rooted in its core, which is manifested through their “Share the Road” program.

The program chooses a nonprofit to support each month. Its charitable efforts come in the form of an event, where a portion of proceeds from the night’s sales are donated to the chosen organization. Share the Road has been running for almost two years, and this year alone they’ve donated nearly $20,000 to local not-for-profit organizations. November’s organization was the Marvin Lewis Community Fund, and the event was held on Nov. 19. For December, they’re hoping to partner with the Freestore Foodbank.

“Community is such a part of craft beer, and raising money is a community effort,” says Bobby Slattery, Fifty West co-owner. “Those involved with craft beer do it in groups. They’re forming a community, making friends, and giving back is the same way.”

Becca Bollinger, Fifty West’s front-of-house and special events manager, is most connected to this program due to her experience working as a facilitator at Fernside, a nonprofit for those going through the grieving process. In fact, Fernside was the first Share the Road charity. “Share the Road is a way to bring the community together, and what better way than with good beer, good company and good organizations?” she says.

It is that same desire to invest in the community that inspires MadTree Brewing Company to give back. “One of MadTree’s goals has always been to support the things we really stand by, to be a pillar of the community by investing and giving back,” says Lauren Amos, the so-named “Responsible One” at MadTree. This intention led them to identify four core charities on which to focus with sponsorships: The Cincinnati Community ToolBank, CityLink, Green Umbrella and Starfire.

MadTree works closely with each of the organizations, supporting them with proceeds from quarterly can releases held in the taproom. With each of those releases, 50 percent of can sales are donated.

And what started as a simple design decision actually turned into a means of donating. There are grates above the bar in MadTree’s taproom where, at some point, people started tossing money. Now, MadTree chooses to donate the collected grate proceeds to a charity every month. Next month will be the Ohio River Foundation.

Whether it’s by ordering a particular cocktail, attending an event on a given night or tossing a buck into a grate, there are plenty of ways to give back while imbibing in the Queen City. ©

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