We are grateful for the people who make District Fray possible, so we’re highlighting them in our Members Only series.
This month, we visited with author, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)-certified wellness coach and founder of Positive Damage, Inc. Derek Brown. A leading beverage figure in the D.C. region, Brown co-founded Mindful Drinking Fest, where he works with individuals and companies to foster mindful drinking, promote wellness and proliferate no- and low-alcohol cocktails. Brown talks about his career, favorite spirits and what goes into making the perfect cocktail.
District Fray: You have a hand in several different ventures. What are you currently working on?Derek Brown: I’m the founder of Positive Damage, Inc. and co-founder of Mindful Drinking Fest. My goal is to help create a culture of mindful drinking and make room for everyone at the bar with no- and low-alcohol cocktails. Practically, I create content, such as working with NASM to create an online course on mindful drinking; consulting with no- and low-alcohol brands like Surely Non-Alcoholic Wines; and speaking at conferences to share why mindful drinking is so important.
What are your main job responsibilities?
I do a lot but, most importantly, I spend time thinking about the best way to approach this problem: We drink too much. I don’t want to put that weight on each person; I just mean as a society, we’re a bit heavy on the handle. And it has dire health implications. But my job isn’t to tell people what to do or be a killjoy. I want to show that by drinking mindfully, we can still enjoy ourselves, go out, have delicious drinks and be with friends and family. Because while alcohol is optional, connection is not.
How would you characterize your business philosophy?
Do one good thing. That’s the line that rings in my head. I can’t solve all the world’s problems, but I can offer a solution from my vantage point to one significant problem. You can call that a business philosophy, or you can call it a mission.
How do you define mindful drinking?
Mindful drinking is a self-led strategy to align the way you drink (or don’t drink) alcohol with your goals, health or otherwise. Put simply, it’s drinking with intention.
What makes a great cocktail?
The company you keep. People can pick up my book “Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No- and Low-Alcohol Cocktails” if they want to learn more about ingredients and techniques, but I’d take a bad drink with good friends over a good drink with bad people any day of the week.
What do you enjoy about living in the DMV?
It’s one of the smartest cities in the world. I’ve spent time with people from all walks of life who are so knowledgeable, whether book-learned or not. I can’t imagine having more enriching conversations anywhere else. But we also have this secret: We’re creative, too. Washingtonians have created and are creating amazing music and art, and almost no one outside of the city knows it.
What are some of your favorite places to visit?
My favorite places to visit nearby are Richmond and Baltimore. [They’re] both underrated cities. There’s some great stuff happening in each city — music, food and culture. We’re lucky they’re so close.
Any outside hobbies or interests?
I skateboard and play chess. Both of those things help me keep my mind off work, worry and stress. And skateboarding is a great way to get in movement and have fun at the same time.
Your neighborhood. Downtown Silver Spring. Favorite museum. The Hirshhorn. Go-to cuisine. Chinese — Peter Chang all day. And Middle Eastern, especially Maydan. Cocktail of choice. I was always a dry martini person, but now I prefer a non-alcoholic old fashioned when it’s well made. Goals for the rest of 2023. Continue to build my business and spend as much time with my family as possible.
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