Bourbon and Bow Ties

Photography by Gary Baker and provided by JDRF


What is the Bourbon & Bow Tie Bash?

Every November, young professionals in Cincinnati flock to the hottest party in town, the annual JDRF Bourbon & Bow Tie Bash, which always sells out months in advance. This year, JDRF is moving the event, which will be held November 10, to the Duke Energy Convention Center to accommodate demand. The event features a unique live bow tie auction, silent auction, music and dancing, food and bourbon tastings from local vendors, a fashion show and more.

Leading the event are JDRF Emerging Leaders Council Chairs Sean Lee and Jordan Hughes, along with JDRF Development Manager Becky Gaible and Executive Director Melissa Newman.

Left to right: Jordan Hughes, Becky Gaible, Sean Lee and Melissa Newman.


Bourbon Bosses

Emerging Leaders Council.


“We’re very fortunate to hit upon two concepts that are both having a moment: bourbon and bow ties,” says Melissa Newman. “This event is popular because people love the fun, low-key concept and it supports a great cause.”

The 2017 Bourbon & Bow Tie Bash will be held November 10 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Proceeds benefit JDRF’s mission to finding better treatments, and eventually a cure, for Type 1 Diabetes. There will also be opportunities to give to other organizations, too.

“Maybe my favorite part of the event is the live bow tie auction, which will showcase and benefit some of our local charity partners. I like that we’re able to use this event to work in partnership and not in competition,” says Newman.

With help from JDRF’s Emerging Leaders Council, this unique fundraiser has evolved and grown over the past four years.

“It started as a concert in Mount Lookout Square and we were looking to expand its impact and audience,” says Sean Lee. “The first year it was held at the casino and rebranded ‘The Bourbon & Bow Tie Bash.’ We sold all 450 tickets and raised over $40,000. Each year since then we have outgrown our venue and this year we are expecting 1,500 attendees and hope to raise $150,000.

“I see the event as the perfect night out. The bourbon, food and auction items are all top-notch. There’s so much energy in the room every year.”

Lee got involved with JDRF because Type 1 Diabetes is a disease that strikes close to home.

“My wife was diagnosed at the age of 3, so I’ve made it my life’s philanthropic mission to help find a cure for this disease,” he says.

Jordan Hughes, also works to help someone close to his heart.

“My grandpa was diagnosed when he was 41 and he just turned 90,” he says. “It’s really been special seeing him come into the JDRF family and inspire those who were newly diagnosed along with their parents and family members. He shows them that just because you have Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t live a long and full life.”

Hughes and Lee have dedicated countless hours to planning and organizing the fundraiser that will include a number of activities and events such as bourbon tastings, a bartender competition and a fashion show presented by Cincy Chic.

“We will have a selection of four premium bourbons as well as food from NJoy Street Food, Madisono’s, Taste of Belgium and Keystone just to name a few,” says Becky Gaible. “We’ve added a VIP bar, featuring Molly Wellman and a specialty cocktail she has created, and, like every year, the music is on point, the décor is fabulous and the food is incredible.

“I know it is hosted by young professionals, but the Bourbon & Bow Tie Bash really is for everyone. All ages are welcomed and

ELC Executive Committee.


Bow Tie Barons

Behind every great fundraising event are great organizers. And behind the Bourbon & Bow Tie Bash are the Barons and Baronesses.

This year’s team has been working hard to not only ensure that their favorite bourbon will be on hand at the event, but to also find sponsors and raise donations. These tireless volunteers add to both the fun and success of the Bash.


Caroline Boyce


Drink of choice: Blaton’s Single Barrel mixed as an Old Fashioned

Reason she got involved: After I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I wanted to get involved and I attended the event last year. I had a lot of fun and continue to help and give back. (She has already personally raised over $40,000 for the event and has a goal of hitting the six-figure mark.)

Attending with: Family and friends

Advice for first-time visitor: Make sure you get to enjoy each and every one of the different kinds of food and drinks.


Todd Carnes

Business Account Manager at Sprint

Drink of choice: Wild Turkey 101 served neat

Inside tip for silent auction: I’m working on getting some high-value Van Winkle bottle donations.

Advice for first-time visitor: It’s my first time, too, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people and introducing myself to as many people as I can. I really enjoy meeting new people and as the co-founder of the Bourbon Society of Greater Cincinnati I selfishly enjoy introducing them to bourbons they may never have tried before.


Evan Clinkenbeard

Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch

Drink of choice: Four Rose Single Barrel served neat

Most looking forward to: Laughing with friends while wearing outlandish bow ties. The wilder the better.

Attending with: My smoking hot wife, Holly.

Advice for first-time visitor: Introduce yourself to at least one new person, make a bid on an auction item and sip that bourbon served neat like a pro.


Shelley Cotton

CEO, Personal Trainer and Pilates Instructor at Shellates Studio

Drink of choice: Any bourbon mixed as a Kentucky mule

Top donor: I’ve been able to secure our title sponsor, Roto Rooter, for the last few years. They have been exceptionally generous and supportive for years.

Reason she got involved: After my nephew was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, my brother got involved at JDRF and brought me along to help volunteer, too.

Lessons learned from JDRF: The love and dedication of this group of people is palpable and I feel overwhelmingly emotional at each event. They all truly care about finding a cure for this disease.


Jordan Hughes

Senior Project Manager at Burke, Inc.

Drink of choice: 12-year-old W.L. Weller served on the rocks

Lessons learned from JDRF: A passionate team can’t be stopped. While volunteering at JDRF, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people and the progress we’ve made with this event in just four years has been phenomenal.

Advice for first-time visitor: Don’t be fashionably late. This is a fully packed event and you need to experience it all.


Sean Lee

Senior Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble

Drink of choice: Pappy Van Winkle served neat

Top donors: I’ve been fortunate to have a great relationship with some of our early event sponsors like Uptown Rental Properties, Rhinegeist and Taste of Belgium. They all have been with us since the early days. And I’m excited to bring in more bourbon partners this year like Watershed.

Advice for first-time visitor: Drink all the bourbon tastings and borrow more tickets from those who don’t use theirs. It always makes for a good night out on the dance floor.


WHAT: Bourbon & Bow Tie Bash

WHEN: November 10, 2017, 6:30 to Midnight


WHERE: Duke Energy Convention Center


JDRF Southwest Ohio is located at 8050 Hosbrook Road, Suite 314, Cincinnati, OH 45236. For more information, call 888.406.JDRF or visit