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COCKTAIL CULTURE IN D.C. On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-December, I found myself devouring a fancy bento box at Cranes with food and travel photographer Jennifer Chase. I’d followed her on IG for quite some time, mentally adding her to my wishlist of artists to work with one day. And suddenly, there we were, covering everything from whether or not to move our families to the burbs to the benefits of microdosing shrooms. And then, kismet.

A dear friend of Chase’s, former Compass Rose Wine Director and Manager Maria Bastasch, recently opened alcohol-optional pop-up Disco Mary inside Columbia Room, her partner Derek Brown’s Blagden Alley stalwart space. Bastasch and I have drifted into the same orbit from time to time over the past six years through our connections to the mastermind behind Compass Rose and Maydan, Rose Previte, and our mutual friend Erin Derosa, the owner of hair salon and healing studio Sense. I also admittedly had been admiring Bastasch’s former green pixie cut for quite some time before embarking on my own similar journey.

So here I was, chatting with Chase about Bastasch’s captivating commitment to a movement on the rise in the District: not just a toe dipped into sober-curious waters, but a warm embrace of what it means to imbibe without needing — or wanting — the buzz. 

Fast-forward to January 6, when I’m part of a dream team of female powerhouses making our cover shoot vision a reality: Chase, Bastasch, her colleagues Umarah Mughnee and Chloé Dorsey, and my designer Julia Goldberg and editorial assistant Nicole Schaller. In fact, the only man present is Brown, a former cover star from our On Tap days and the most doting partner. His role? Bastasch’s cheerleader.

Our entire Cocktail Culture issue seems to fall in a similar vein: championing the leaders of the drink industry in D.C. Not only do we applaud those keeping their doors open during such a harrowing time for folks in hospitality and pivoting in creative, lucrative and philanthropic ways, we support the new wave of drink professionals thinking outside the box and bringing low- and no-ABV options to the forefront. In fact, they are normalizing being social without the impact of alcohol, and we’re here for it.

Beyond cocktails, we covered National Geographic Museum’s first two exhibits in two years and profiled one of their latest storytellers, Tara Roberts; profiled the Groom Guy, mezcal maven Kelly Phillips, comedian Von Mychael and other local luminaries; waxed poetic about the luxury of truffles; and much, much more.

And oh yeah, please pick up a copy of this issue in Whole Foods and support local journalism because we are now carried in 20+ locations locally. Cheers, guys! 

Monica Alford