It’s a blustery Sunday evening in November when I meet Vergie “Gigi” Arandid for drinks.
But the weather has no effect on us because we’re clinking glasses in true post-2020 fashion: over Zoom.
People have clinked glasses online countless times since the onset of the pandemic, but what makes our drinks a little different is they contain no booze — the driving force behind Arandid’s forthcoming Binge Bar on H Street. (I’m drinking a Flyer’s CBD ready-to-drink cocktail with oak, vanilla and bitters; the founder of D.C.’s first entirely alcohol-free bar is sipping on a libation she created with AVEC spiced mango and passionfruit.)
The last time I saw her, however, the weather told a completely different story. We basked in the glorious sunshine of an unseasonably warm fall day, tasting 20+ different nonalcoholic beverages ranging from beer, wine and ready-to-drink cocktails at D.C.’s first-ever Mindful Drinking Festival.
Co-organizers Erika Goedrich of Craft Beer Cellar DC (that boasts a wide range of nonalc bevs) and Derek Brown of Columbia Room fame (and now Positive Damage Inc., a wellness company aiming to teach the world how to drink) could see 2022 was the perfect time not just for any day drinking fest, but one with no alcohol.
I launched Booze Free in DC in late 2019 when I first noticed a shift in DMV drinking culture. The shift was glacial, but it was happening nonetheless.
And then 2020 hit.