The idea for Pig & Punch — and its sister event, Swig ‘n Swine — came to The Bon Vivants’ co-founders Josh Harris and Scott Baird while anticipating their second trip to Tales of the Cocktail.
The business partners decided that they wanted to throw a party that married cocktails and charity, much like Tales does itself, but with the distinct stamp of the Bon Vivants.
“We wanted to do something to represent our philosophy of community and bringing the industry together,” said Baird.
The Bon Vivants were founded in 2009 as a cocktail, hospitality, marketing, design firm. Along with jobs designing cocktail menus like the one at Trick Dog, and working with clients like Tequila Ocho, Ancho Reyes, and Pernod-Ricard, the team has made a name for itself with charitable events like Pig ‘n Punch. These charity barbecue events have been held in cities as widespread as New York, New Orleans, Portland, Miami, and Austin. Attendees not only enjoy generous portions of meat, sides, and desserts prepared by an all-star roster of participating chefs, but also numerous punches, scooped whimsically from 40-gallon trash cans. And all this is surrounded by music and lawn games (and just a little bit of well-intentioned mayhem.)
All proceeds benefit KIPP Public Charter Schools – a national network of schools helping students from educationally underserved communities achieve their highest potential from an early age. In addition to financial donations, The Bon Vivants organize a volunteer day at a chosen KIPP school preceding the events. Bartenders from all over the country come together to do heavy lifting, painting, and odd jobs around the assigned schools.
The partnership with KIPP was a happy accident: Baird and Harris discovered the school system in 2010 through HandsOn New Orleans, an organization that provides service opportunities for residents, corporations, and organizations. After learning about KIPP and its vision, The Bon Vivants decided to work with the organization in any capacity possible for future events.
Now in its sixth year, the Pig & Punch/Swig ‘n Swine event series has donated over $170,000 to charter schools, and The Bon Vivants have coordinated 5,705 cumulative man hours of volunteer labor at those schools.
“We are overwhelmed by the reactions to this event,” Harris said. “People really embrace it for many reasons, both as a party and because they want to volunteer their time and give back to the communities that have embraced us. We all take an enormous amount of pride in this.”