Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to us. It allows us to live a more "fruitful" life when we're Just.So.Busy. But while physical health is important, we also prioritize having fun and overall mental well-being. So just how do we do that? Well sometimes we get ~fancy~ and enjoy a nice cocktail...right next door to our Shaw store.
We're sitting down with DC restaurateur and local celeb, Derek Brown, owner of Shaw cocktail hotspots Columbia Room (re-opened this month right beside our Blagden Alley store), Mockingbird Hill, Eat The Rich, and Southern Efficiency. We chat over JRINKs 'n drinks and pick his brain on the history and culture of beverages and passion for time-made hand-crafted cocktails.
JRINK: Whether conceptualizing a new bar, creating a new cocktail, or handling the nuts and bolts of the industry—where do you generally draw inspiration from? (A person, place, cuisine, type of music…?)
DB: Punk and metal music was the soundtrack of my youth here in the District, and something I still love and gain meaning and direction from today. Passion is everything, and I feel it completely in punk and metal—and it relates to my work as a bartender. Making a drink doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t convey an emotion or feeling, even if that emotion is just to make someone happy. I see bartenders faking it, and I can’t—that would be an awfully un-punk rock thing to do. The ideal I learned from the music was: just make what you want to see in the world. No one around to help you? Do it yourself. Then you’ll find people who are doing the same thing.
JRINK: You mentioned travel and culture too, any examples?
DB: The world is a strange place. If you go somewhere you’ve never been before, and you truly pay attention—you’ll see amazing stuff. I choose to skip the tour—get inspired by the rhythm of life, the little strange habits, the things other cultures do differently. I learned more from staying in a squat in Paris than the Louvre.
In Japan, I received some of the best service ever—an experience that truly inspired me. But not in some fancy restaurant, but in a Tokyo 7 Eleven. I was looking for a specific rice ball, and asked the clerk for help. He first apologized for his English (which was flawless), and then read through each label with me. This helped me realize that the true difference was that he believed in the importance of serving and the art of service. I was floored. The effort he put into helping me—I doubt I put that much effort into our most important VIP guest. Sincerity of action and purpose—it’s something I strive for every day.
Mockingbird Hill, a sherry bar, the Christmas Edition
JRINK: When the creative juices aren't flowing, what rituals do you turn to in order to regain focus?
DB: Meditation is important. You have to clear the space in your head and understand your own thought process, just watch it. No need to chant or fix some spiritual idea to it. Sit down and be still.
A recent collaboration between Eat The Rich x JRINK using our Wake Me Up in a coconut cocktail
JRINK: At what time of day do you feel most creatively inspired?
DB: Morning, always.
JRINK: We've spoken a bit about your love for juice and juice cleanses, how did you get into that?
DB: I pollute my body more often than a drunk captain on an oil rig pollutes the ocean. I drink booze, eat meat, smoke cigars, and shove my gob with candy. I need a break from that, to be mindful of what I'm eating. It's more than health--it's going back to purpose. I need to remember what's important about what I'm drinking and eating, I need to taste it and not just need it.
The new Columbia Room, with a punch garden & "library" room (Source: Washingtonian)
JRINK: What's your go-to cleansing method and how does it make you feel?
DB: One month, all raw. It's hard, but man if I don't shine afterwards.
JRINK: What's your favorite JRINK?
So while we keep fresh by JRINKin' our fresh fruits & veggies, we love to have fun and go drinkin' once in awhile too. And what better place that prioritizes service and innovation with every sip? Go on - grab a friend, set a date and come get your J/DRINK on.