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You’ll be partying like there is a tomorrow at Columbia Room’s latest pop-up, Disco Mary, because all the apothecary-style, alcohol-free cocktails are meant to be sipped as is (although adding booze is optional and neither choice is frowned upon by bar staff).
Before you even saddle up to the bar on the patio or take a cozy seat inside the newly revamped library to enjoy vegan eats by Chef Elena Venegas, you’ll be greeted by a mirrored Virgin Mary, meticulously crafted by multimedia artist Lina Shamoon. Yes, a disco ball Virgin Mary is totally the vibe that will follow you throughout your evening.
Welcome to an expanded definition of nightlife — and we love it.
The visionary behind Disco Mary is Maria Bastasch of Maydan and Compass Rose fame. Bastasch and Derek Brown, owner of Columbia Room, are not just business partners — they’re life ones as well. Brown has been vocal about becoming a mindful/rare drinker of alcohol over the years so it only makes sense that a pop-up devoted to all things booze-free would find its way into the mecca of D.C.’s zero-proof innovation.
For the first time in a long time, I donned my gold sequined earrings made by local jewelry designer Earcandie and actually left the house for a drink. I met up with my friend Maria Denton, who is a local zero-proof ambassador and southeast regional manager for Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits. We raised our glasses — many a time because hey, no booze — as we watched the sun glow behind the buildings of Blagden Alley.
It was the perfect setting for “peeking behind the curtain” to become more acquainted with two of the team members driving the Disco Mary concept: Yaki Udoumoh and Todd Carnam.
Udoumoh has been a mixologist at Columbia Room for the past two-and-a-half years. When he first got into bartending, he noticed Seedlip as the predominant nonalcoholic spirit but has since witnessed the movement blossoming (and tips his hat to Lyre’s, one of the featured spirits on Disco Mary’s menu).
“I make my own tinctures and am trying to go for a more holistic apothecary style,” Uduomoh says of incorporating zero-proof into his personal life when not at Disco Mary.
Udoumoh’s fave on the menu: The Evolutionary.
Fellow mixologist Carnam ran The Interval, The Long Now Foundation’s high-profile cocktail bar in San Francisco before moving to D.C. While in California, he created the bar’s first low- and no-ABV section.
Carnam feels very strongly about providing options for those curious about or already involved in the zero-proof community.
“A lot of people are going to want to go out [as we navigate a new pandemic “normal”] — but why should it be only drinkers? [These alcohol-optional drinks] are really intriguing and enticing for people who want to not drink [alcohol] or want to drink very little.”
Carnam’s fave on the menu: Can’t Remember (To Forget).
Whether you’re taking a break for the holidays, participating in Dry January or just wanting a cozy, eclectic spot to dine vegan and sip booze-free (or low-ABV), Disco Mary has your back.
Maybe I’ll see you there. Until then, we’ll be right here sipping the night away.
Disco Mary Drink Menu
Can’t Remember (To Forget)
Ingredients: Hawthorn berry, rosehips, honey, Lyre’s Italian orange
Soundtrack: “Love Is In the Air” by John Paul Jones + “The Hustle” by Van McCoy
Ingredients: TOST (elderberry, ginger, bubbles), lemon
Soundtrack: “Last Dance” by Donna Summer + “I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round)” by Alicia Bridges
Ingredients: Pumpkin spice (not latte), coconut, aquafaba, apple cider vinegar (ACV), hemp oil
Soundtrack: “Ladies Night” by Kool & the Gang + “Funky Town” by Lipps Inc
Ingredients: Wild lettuce, chinotto, lemon, agave
Soundtrack: “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” by Barry White + “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
Ingredients: Grapefruit, lime
Soundtrack: “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge + “Love Train” by The O’Jays
Influencers in the Wild
Ingredients: Dragonfruit, schisandra berry, lemon balm, lime
Soundtrack: “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls + “Dancing Queen” by ABBA
Mushpresso + Tonic
Ingredients: Adaptogenic mushroom, cacao, cold brew, Lyre’s Coffee Originale
Soundtrack: “Le Freak” by Chic + “Knock on Wood” by Amii Stewart
Ingredients: Pu-erh tea, ginger honey, puff puff juice, damiana + frankincense smoke
Soundtrack: “Rock the Boat” by Hues Corporation + “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer
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