No one likes asking for money.
There are countless charities, non-profits, and fundraising opportunities, most of them deserving – If you have $50 to blow, you can adopt a wombat and get a free wombat stuffed animal. Who’s with me? – but, no matter the legitimacy of the cause or the need of the organization, soliciting donations always feels a little sleazy. Whether you’re trying to teach African kids how to make mixed drinks or improve working conditions for migrant orangutan farm workers, asking for cash is asking for cash.
“Don’t you hate the sexual oppression of three toed sloths? Me too! Can I have $100 bucks?”
This phenomenon gets even weirder when you’re asking for money for yourself.
Kickstarter is a bizarre, Web 2.0, crowd sourcing social phenomenon that allows people to solicit money for projects in exchange for various rewards based on the level of donations. These rewards vary from the legitimate – a pre-order for a new video game console – to the utterly bizarre – the founder shouting your name while chasing a duck. No, really.
On one hand, the money goes towards the creation of a business / entity / duck chasing phenomenon, which the donors support – money comes in, cool stuff comes out. Unfortunately, this only partially obfuscates the fact that Kickstarter is essentially asking you to invest in projects with no real return or equity.
“Don’t you hate the sexual oppression of three toed sloths? Me too! Can I have $100 bucks? (By the way, I’m spending it on myself.)”
Sadly, fundraising is a necessary evil. Few things in life are free and many worthy causes and ideas lack proper funding. Lord knows, those African kids can’t make a decent gimlet without small batch gin.
With that in mind, please forgive me for what I’m about to do.
I’m not going to ask you for money; I’m simply going to suggest a cause I find worthy of donation. I won’t be offended if you decide not to donate. In fact, I don’t particularly care what you do. I only have two aims with this article: 1) to inform you of an exciting new development in the local cocktail scene 2) to make you laugh in the process. (As long as you chuckle at the urgency of the African child mixed drink epidemic, we’re cool.)
I’m simply letting you know about a cause that, in my never humble opinion, deserves your awareness, your support and – depending on your ideological background, interest, and wherewithal - your money.
Local bartender Kyle Reutner and technology guru / taco truck advertising maven / chimpanzee trainer / cocktail afficionado Mike Prasad (note: I made up one of those titles, but with all the things Mike has on his plate, nothing would surprise me) have teamed up to start a Hawaii bitters company named, well… Hawaii Bitters Company. Their goal is to create high quality bitters with the best available locally sourced ingredients, infused with quintessential Hawaii flavors. Think coconut, lilikoi, Kona coffee, guava, etc…
“What are bitters?”, you say. Basically, an alcohol infused with herbal essences and other flavors to impart a bitter characteristic. Bitters are primarly used in cocktails to offset sweet flavors and provide a sense of balance.
Locally produced and sourced bitters take this idea to the next level. They provide local bartenders the ability to match traditional Hawaiian flavors and infuse their drinks with a sense of place, a term wine afficianados like to call terroir. (I will conveniently gloss over the fact that 97.3% of people who have ever uttered the word terroir deserve a sharp elbow in the pretentious crotch.)
Basically, local bitters provide yet another nudge to the growing Hawaii cocktail movement.
Kyle and Mike are cognizant of the inherent akwardness of asking for money via Kickstarter, regardless of the legitimacy of their intention. With this in mind, they have attempted to structure the donation rewards as a pre-order program, rather than some type of duck shouting subterfuge. Once production begins, a bottle of bitters will cost approximately $15. If you donate $15 to Hawaii Bitters Company you will receive a bottle of bitters from the initial batch.
Kyle and Mike create bitters with high quality local ingredients. You get a bottle. Bartenders around the State create better drinks.
Win. Win. Win.
Asking for money sucks. It’s inherently awkward. But, sometimes it takes a little money to get something worthwhile of the ground; a little seed capital to put a charge in the World. I believe Kyle and Mike deserve your support, but it’s your money. Do what you think is right.
If it comes down to a decision between Hawaii Bitters Company and teaching African kids how to make a perfect Manhattan, you know where I stand (but, if you have some money left over, Kyle and Mike could use some too).
If you decide to donate to the Hawaii Bitters Company, you can do so via their campaign page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mikeprasad/hawaii-cocktail-bitters-bottling-the-flavors-of-th