It was just supposed to be one shot.
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When Olivia Liles heard the news that a close friend and cherished regular of The Gaslight Social had passed away in a tragic accident, she did the only thing a bartender could do in that situation - she poured one last drink for him.

Photo Credit: Olivia Liles

A 'Libation,' as it's defined, is the ritual pouring of a liquid as an offering to a deity or spirit, or in memory of the dead. It's a tradition that actually began in Ancient Greece and some version of it has remained in bars and pubs throughout hundreds of years.

"Pouring one out for the homies," has entered the pop-culture vernacular thanks to movies like 'Boyz 'n the Hood' and even Austin Powers, as well as songs from Tupac and others.

But, in bars, it is still a time-honored, almost spiritual act of  reverence and remembrance.

So, when Liles heard the devastating news, she honored the tradition, as well as the life of her friend, Ben Bournes.

"It's a tradition," she said. "I've heard of a lot of places that do it; they'll tuck the chair in and set the shot of choice down for them, in order to honor them from the bartender's standpoint. It's a way to honor a friend, and a loved one that was lost for everybody."

It was a kind, simple gesture but what happened next was something Liles never saw coming, and it serves as a testament to the type of person Bournes was, and the impact he left on people.

"It went from one shot to 215 by the end of the night," Liles said. "Tons of people, all day, came in and it just stacked up throughout the entire day."

Photo Credit: Olivia Liles

Things like that just don't happen a lot. It was a one-of-a-kind occurrence for, Liles said, a one-of-a-kind human being.

"He was a friend to everybody," she said. "Actually, he was more like family to everyone here. He made a big impact in everyone's life, just by being there for other people, by being caring, by always being one hundred percent. He was one of our regulars here, and he meant a lot to us. I speak for everyone when I say that."

 

for Ben.

Posted by The Gaslight Social on Sunday, May 9, 2021

But she didn't have to speak for everyone. When news got out that Bournes had passed, tributes came pouring in via social media posts. It felt like the entire community had lost a friend, and, maybe it had.

More importantly, though, a son lost a father. Because of this, from now until Friday, May 14, The Gaslight will be raising money for Bournes' family during this difficult time.

"All week long The Gaslight Social will be having a seat for Ben Bournes," their Facebook page wrote. "A percentage of every shot bought for Ben and placed in front of his seat will go to Taylor & their son Roman. We will also have a tip jar out for anyone who wants to donate. 100% of those proceeds will be given to the family. Friday night's door fee will be given to the family as well in hope to relieve any financial burden."

All week long The Gaslight Social will be having a seat for Ben Bournes; a percentage of every shot bought for Ben and...

Posted by The Gaslight Social on Sunday, May 9, 2021

When tragedy strikes, when we lose a loved one, it's hard to know what to do next. Words escape us, thoughts run through our heads at a mile a minute. We do what we can, simply to get through the next day, hour, minute. For Liles, pouring that shot for her friend was the only way she could grieve at the moment. As a bartender, it was tradition. As a friend, it was a requiem. And it turned into an altar; one of friendship, one of grief and of loss, but also one that spoke to the heart and the character of a young man that was gone way too soon.

To that young man, Liles, as well as the rest of the Gaslight Social staff and patrons, poured a shot and gave a toast.

"This one," she said, "is for you."