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Local bartenders participate in "Wine to Water" fundraiser

"If you're going to come out and spend money on alcohol, you might as well do it for a good cause." 

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Water is everywhere in a bar; from fermentation through sanitation, it's an essential part of the booze-making and -consuming experience. "Everything we do is water-based," says North Carolina barman-turned-activist Doc Hendley. 

That fact inspired Hendley to create Wine to Water, a charity whose mission is to bring clean drinking water to impoverished towns and villages where that resource is scarce. 

His organization got a boost last year when legendary barkeep and writer Gaz Regan donated all of his tips from a guest bartending gig at The Dead Rabbit, a Manhattan cocktail den, to Wine to Water. 

Now the two have paired up for "Just One Shift," a weeklong international fundraising effort. Bartenders from around the world will donate 100 percent of what they earn during a selected shift from April 8-14 — and several Pittsburgh bartenders are among those rallying to the cause.

Nicole Battle and Maggie Meskey will team up for a punch-and-bourbon party at Benjamin's on April 10; Meskey, who spearheaded the Pittsburgh effort, will also donate her portion of the Salt of the Earth tip split on April 12. Alyssa McGrath will do the same at Dish Osteria on April 11, and Alison Bresnahan at Spoon will contribute her April 14 earnings.

For Battle, advocating for clean drinking water is nothing new. When she first moved to Pittsburgh, she worked as a canvasser for Clean Water Action, an organization that works to combat water pollution. "It's easy to take for granted how easy we have it here," she says.

 "If you're going to come out and spend money on alcohol," she says, "you might as well do it for a good cause." 

Hendley is enthusiastic about the participation of Pittsburgh bartenders, and from bartenders around the world. "It's really cool to have people stop and think for a minute about the water that's in their glass," he says. After all, "Fresh water doesn't come easy to everyone."

Time and location information for participating bars can be found at justoneshift.com/shift-list-pittsburgh-pennsylvania.

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