Do-Gooder Booze: Save the World by Drinking these 11 Liquor Brands

By Robert Haynes-Peterson | 4.1.18

It turns out booze brands aren’t that different than us when it comes to charitable giving and important causes. Almost all beer, wine, and spirits makers give to charity in some form or another. They may release special bottle art with a portion of each purchase going to a good cause, or host an annual event, or partner with local bartenders pouring Negronis. Some companies, though, move beyond general good intentions. Like your friend who helps at the shelter every weekend and recycles even the smallest bits of paper, there are liquor brands that steep their mission statement and daily operations in countless good causes. These brands live and breath making the world a better place, one bottle at a time.

Being dedicated to doing good doesn’t just nourish a company’s soul, it’s good business. According to recent studies, millennials (especially) feel it’s important to know a company is doing more for the world than simply turning a profit before they make a purchase (or work there).

But Ilegal Mezcal’s John Rexer points out that any ongoing activism or philanthropy has to come from a “real place of caring,” or you risk highly publicized fails like Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner moment. “What do you really care about?” says Rexer. “You have to have skin in the game in the sense that you know you’re going to take a fucking hit.” Among other social issues, Ilegal has taken a hard stance against Donald Trump in the wake of his disparaging comments about Mexico and Mexicans. “That comes from your dedication to your beliefs, not from a marketing department.”

Below, an ongoing and ever-evolving list of some of these brands hoping to produce more than just another regular ol’ bottle of booze.

NOVO FOGO CACHAÇA

Brazil’s signature sugar cane spirit has become increasingly popular in the U.S., especially in cocktails like the Caipirinha. The country is also home to not one, but two of the world’s most important (and threatened) rainforests: The Amazon and the lesser-known Atlantic Rainforest on the coast in southern Brazil. While the Amazon has lost about 20 percent of its trees to logging and development, the Atlantic has lost about 85 percent, according to Dragos Axinte, founder of Novo Fogo and owner of booze’s most Game of Thrones-esque name. The distillery — located in between the rainforest slopes and the flatlands leading to the sea — is a state-of-the-art, zero-waste facility employing organic, chemical-free sugar cane. But Axinte and his team continue to look for ways to live in and with the ecosystem around them, one of the most environmentally activist regions in the world. The company has hosted a donation program to support the endangered Red Tailed Parrot. It discourages the use of endangered native woods for aging that don’t have the proper harvesting/sustainability certifications. And it recently kicked off “The Unendangered Forest,” a reforestation program that, to date, has resulted in the planting of almost 500 native, endangered trees and the registering (and protecting) of 88 bird species who use those trees. “Many people will say, well, it’s just your cachaça, it won’t make a difference,” acknowledges Axinte. “But positivity spreads. You have to look at where you are and say, ‘how can I live off this land without destroying it?’” (Don’t forget to check to check out our review of Colibri, one of Novo Fogo’s latest releases.)

Do-Gooder Booze: Save the World by Drinking these 11 Liquor Brands
The Manual | April 1, 2018