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Community Discussion on Sobriety and Recovery in Restaurants

  • El Techo 606 Florida Avenue Northwest Washington, DC, 20001 United States (map)

As a growing number of people, particularly young people, are choosing not to drink for a variety of reasons ranging from wellness, personal preference and those that are "sober-curious", restaurants and bars have begun to look at how to make their spaces a more inclusive environment with more options for those abstaining from alcohol, whatever the reason.

At the same time, the prevalence and effects of substance abuse and addiction in the restaurant and hospitality industry are well documented. These environments often times reinforce a culture where substance use disorder can thrive or is accepted as part of the "culture". Similarly, it provides unique challenges for those who are working to maintain their sobriety or get sober for the first time.

These topics have been gaining regional and national media attention in publications including The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Bon Appetit and New York Times, among others. Additionally, industry leaders in D.C. and beyond have begun efforts to bring sobriety and non-drinkers to the forefront of discussion and to integrate them more fully into the hospitality experience.

With this in mind, WildHeart Media is presenting “Sobriety and Recovery in Restaurants: A Community Discussion” on Monday, August 26 from 7-9 PM at El Techo. The evening will bring together a panel of industry leaders- each with their own story and motivation for advancing the efforts to make restaurants and bars more welcoming to persons choosing to cut back on or abstain completely from drinking, while making their spaces safe, fun and supportive environments for these guests.

The panel will be moderated by Julia Bainbridge, a James Beard Award-nominated food writer for publications including Bon Appetit, Taste and Atlanta Magazine, who has written several articles on the topic including "Big Alcohol is Bracing for a More Sober Future", "What Happens When Five Sober Chefs Share a Kitchen", "I've Decided to Give Up Alcohol, At Least for a While", and "Should Bartenders Have to Serve Non-Drinkers", among others.

She will lead a discussion on this topic among local industry leaders including:

  • Chef Ashish Alfred, chef and owner of Baltimore and Bethesda's Duck Duck Goose and Bethesda's George's Chop House. His journey to and with recovery was recently profiled in The Washington Post and he has appeared on The Today Show sharing his experience

  • Derek Brown, Derek Brown is a leading spirits and cocktail expert and president of Drink Company, which owns and operates the 2017 Spirited Award winning "Best American Cocktail Bar" Columbia Room as well as PUB, a rotating pop-up bar that's housed the wildly-popular Miracle on 7th Street, Cherry Blossom PUB and Game of Thrones PUB. He’s also written about drinks and drinking for The Atlantic, The Washington Post and Bon Appétit magazine, among other publications. He will speak to efforts on the part of bars and restaurants to provide non-drinkers with more options and his own personal experience of choosing to cut back on drinking.

  • Nikki Blank, founder of Sunomi Switchel, an apple cider vinegar, ginger and citrus based drink. It can be used, and has been used for centuries, as a daily electrolyte drink, prebiotic gut friendly drink, a healthy cocktail mixer, or a mocktail. On a personal level, Nikki has chosen a lifestyle of less drinking for health and wellness reasons and can speak to the use of switchel and other non-alcoholic products used in zero-proof cocktails and their rise in popularity.

  • Laura Silverman, founder of The Sobriety Collective, a digital and IRL hub for sober creatives worldwide, will represent Sans Bar DC, a pop-up inclusive and booze-free social space in our nation's capital. Sans Bar DC emerged from a larger international pop-up tour spearheaded by Sans Bar, headquartered in Austin, TX. A spirit-free enthusiast for the past twelve years, Laura is thrilled to witness a movement afoot in the wellness world and craft non-alcoholic beverage game.

The evening will conclude with time for questions and discussion. The audience, along with  panelists, will explore how to take what is heard throughout the evening and carry it forward into the everyday culture at bars and restaurants in order to continue moving the needle in this space and foster a supportive and safe environment for everyone in restaurants and bars- employees and guests.

Non-alcoholic beverages/cocktails and light food will be served. The event is free and open to the public, but you must register here to attend.