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News

Pouring Good Karma

SLC's booze slingers use their shakers to build community and connections.

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Water Witch's Matt Pfohl - WATER WITCH'S MATT PFOHL
  • Water Witch's Matt Pfohl
  • Water Witch's Matt Pfohl

"Everyone asks, 'What can I do?' when we find out someone is undergoing a catastrophic life event," local bartender Matt Pfohl says. "We founded One Small Miracle as an immediate way to make a difference." The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization helps with direct financial backing and community support for un- or under-insured service employees and their families facing daunting medical bills. "It's important for people not to feel invisible or overlooked," Pfohl says. "We're here to say, 'You're not doing this alone.'"

It's an issue that directly impacted Pfohl, who suffered a massive stroke at age 29 while bartending at Copper Common. "I was incredibly lucky," he says of his treatment and miraculous recovery. However, staggering medical bills and loss of income while recovering, were a blow to the then-uninsured Pfohl. Now, as a small-business owner (he's a partner at Water Witch), Pfohl recognizes the high cost of private health insurance: "It would break a small business to provide it," he says. "I don't know what I'd do without the Affordable Care Act."

After navigating the health care system, Pfohl saw an immediate need to provide a safety net for fellow industry professionals and their families in the event of a life-altering medical event. He started working on the idea of One Small Miracle in 2015 and officially launched the nonprofit in April of this year with a party and fundraiser at T.F. Brewing.

In addition to seeking individual and group donations, the organization regularly hosts fundraisers, such as an Aug. 11 bash benefiting beloved SLC bartender Alejandro Olivares (most recently bar manager at Under Current Bar), who is fighting cancer. Tickets are on sale now for the "One Big Miracle" event, a 21 and up block party behind Bar X (155 E. 200 South, 801-355-2287, beonesmallmiracle.org) with live music, great local nosh and, of course, plenty of drinks slung by bartenders from Alibi, Copper Common, Quarters, Bar X, Water Witch, the AC Hotel and others.

Local bartenders also donated their off-the-clock time to support fellow bar pros and community charities through direct volunteer support, such as the Utah chapter of the U.S. Bartenders' Guild Campari Annual Day of Service held each June. Every year, a couple dozen Utah bartenders and friends spend a day supporting a local cause. This year, they helped serve meals at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall.

Women Crush Wednesday is more than a babe-licious hashtag. For Salt Lake City-based bartender Arianna Hone, it's become a call for galvanizing support and recognition for SLC's badass women bartenders in a largely male-dominated field.

Hone co-hosted the first Women Crush Wednesday event in May with Jess Sandberg at Tinwell, when both women were raising travel funds for the national Speed Rack cocktail competition. Hone and Sandberg dedicated the event to the Helen David Relief Fund for women servers diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, Hone has aimed for bi-monthly collaborations with other women bartenders at venues like Water Witch, Quarters and Post Office Place. "It's a chance for women in our community to showcase their skills and show off their talents," which Hone says has generated funds for women bartenders' travel for educational training and advancement. The events also raise funds for local organizations that serve women, children and marginalized groups.

In addition to a portion of cocktail sales going to WCW, local spirits brands like Beehive Distilling, Kiitos Brewing, Dented Brick Distillery, Black Feather Whiskey, Waterpocket Distillery and Bitters Lab have kicked in their own contributions to the event's causes. Hone says they're anticipating future WCW events will support organizations like the Rape Recovery Center, Women of the World, the UT Domestic Violence Coalition and more. "The community has really rallied," Hone says of the always-packed pop-ups.

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