The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2017

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30  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2017 SIN CITY SNIPPETS I n 2012, the Modern Mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim, told me about a little side project he had been quietly working on since April 2010—a breast cancer charity named for his cousin Helen, who had bravely battled the disease before her passing in 2006 at age 91. Five years hence, the Helen David Relief Fund (HDRF) is thriving, and maintains its mission of supporting bartenders affected by breast cancer. "Dealing with the effects of and the treatment associated with breast cancer and the subsequent recovery is one of the most trying experiences any individual and their family will ever encounter," Abou-Ganim says. "If the Helen David Relief Fund can help to ease some of the financial hardship, then perhaps we can help them beat this horrible disease." In 2014, the HDRF linked up with the United States Bartenders' Guild and is administered by the guild's 501(c)(3)-qualifying National Charity Foundation. As Las Vegas was its birth- place, HDRF continues to get support from the city in myriad ways. The fourth annual For the Love of Cocktails grand gala (fortheloveof-, held May 19 at Skyfall Lounge atop The Delano, was one of the largest events benefiting the fund all year. More than 60 bartenders and mixologists volunteered to pair up and create original cocktails from sponsor products. Guests hopped from booth to booth, sipping, sampling and enjoying bites from the kitchen of Rivea by Alain Ducasse. At the apex of the entertain- ing evening, Back Bar USA founder Tim Haughinberry presented co-host Abou-Ganim with a check for $21,000, bringing the total raised by the event since its 2014 launch to $55,000. But it's not just major events or organizations that adopt the HDRF as a beneficiary. Zuma Las Vegas lead bar- man SeongHa Lee requested that his $500 royalties from the sale of Shaker & Spoon's June craft-cocktail kit, Sake It to Me! ( boxes), be donated to the HDRF. His cocktail, Tokyo Love Story, was inspired by the idea of two people falling in love in the springtime. HDRF was also among the charities up for selection as a beneficiary of sales from Negroni Week (, a global Campari activation held this year from June 5–11. More than 50 Las Vegas bars and restaurants took part along with 163 venues around the world, donating more than $6,000 to the HDRF. Abou-Ganim is an avid bicyclist, and many of his personal fundraising efforts take the form of long-distance rides organized by program activation man- ager Moniek Pullen, who teamed up with Abou-Ganim on the fund in 2012. At press time, Abou-Ganim's Team Negroni had raised more than $30,000 before even starting their seven-city circuit of 40-mile rides. Bartenders and supporters raised a total of $45,000, with rides in Santa Fe, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Miami and Denver, before concluding with a Vegas ride and a Negroni Week karaoke afterparty at the Sand Dollar Lounge that raised an additional $10,000. In the short term, the HDRF's goal is to cover cancer-related expenses not covered by health insurance. But look- ing to the future, Abou-Ganim would like the fund to be able to offer com- plimentary breast cancer screenings to industry members and to eventually cover medical costs. "Helen herself was a very philanthropic woman who did so much, not only for her community but also for our profession," Abou-Ganim says. "She instilled in me the impor- tance of giving back, that you are never going to be truly successful or fulfilled without helping those less fortunate. I know she would be very proud, honored and humbled." Sweet Relief LAS VEGAS AIMS ITS CHARITABLE EFFORTS AT THE HELEN DAVID RELIEF FOUNDATION by Xania V. Woodman PHOTO COURTESY OF HDRF Left to right: Back Bar USA's Alex Ferguson and Josh Payne with Tony Abou-Ganim and Back Bar founder Tim Haughinberry. Zuma Las Vegas lead barman SeongHa Lee requested that his royalties from the sale of Shaker & Spoon's June craft- cocktail kit be donated to the HDRF. PHOTO: MONA SHIELD PAYNE PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAKER AND SPOON Tony Abou-Ganim's Team Negroni raised $45,000 with their seven-city circuit of 40-mile rides.

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