Weekly Guest Bartending Events Helping Charities

Weekly Guest Bartending Events Helping Charities

BERLIN — The charitable guest bartending season at Burley Oak Brewery is off to a running start, raising roughly $4,400 for two different non-profits in its first two weeks.
A check for $1,953 was presented to the first of those special charities, the American Cancer Society (ACS), this week for breast cancer awareness month.
Burley Oak began its guest bartending season last winter, running from mid-October until mid-April. While it didn’t start out as a charity effort, Burley Oak owner Bryan Brushmiller said that it didn’t take long for guest bartenders to start pooling their tips for a charity of their choosing.
“So we did it last winter and we raised $26,000 for 19 different charities,” he said.
It’s off to a strong start already, with the first of this season’s guest bartenders raising nearly $2,000 for breast cancer awareness. Those bartenders were Chip Ayres and Hab Bahmani from OC Wasabi. All of the bartenders get to pick their own favorite charity for their night, which Ayres said was a blast two weeks ago.
“A lot of locals come out and it’s a good time,” he said.
According to Brushmiller, that’s something that all of the guest bartending events Burley has hosted have in common.
“It’s huge. It’s packed all of the time,” he said. “People love drinking for a cause.”
And drink for a cause they did, generating $1,953 for ACS between pooled bartender tips, a raffle and a 10 percent of sales match from Burley. At the brewery Wednesday to receive the check were ACS representatives Beverly Furst and Susan Braniecki. Independent community donations like the one received through the guest bartender program are critical to ACS and support research for breast cancer awareness, explained Furst.
“We couldn’t do this without them. We couldn’t fundraise without the community,” she said. “That’s what we are. We’re all volunteers.”
Autumn is a big time for ACS, with October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all of the Pink Ribbon Classic events taking place between August and early-November. This year is likely to be the strongest yet for the Pink Ribbon in terms of donations generated, which will go to everything from research to local outreach and support. It funds local programs like “Road to Recovery,” which helps those battling cancer find transportation and a mentorship initiative that pairs the newly diagnosed with long-time survivors, among other programs.
“We really commit a lot to cancer research, so that’s one of our main pushes,” said Furst. “But we also have a lot of programs and services that are local.”
Braniecki agreed and noted that the Pink Ribbon Classic has boomed from a single event 17 years ago to 10 events this year, with a large amount of secondary support from independent donations such as Burley’s guest bartender program.
“That’s how we started, as a grassroots movement to help cancer patients,” she said.
Brushmiller is hopeful that this year’s guest bartending season will be a fruitful one in terms of generating charitable donations. It’s a popular event for both customers and area bartenders who are invited in from all of Burley’s business partners.
“We do guest bartenders from all of our accounts so if you sell Burley Oak, we have you out and then we do a big guest bartender night on Monday nights,” he said.
Following OC Wasabi’s guest night, Bull on the Beach generated about $2,500 to go toward autism research and support. Guest bartenders for charity will be at Burley Oak every Monday for the season.