RECLAIMING THIRSTY THURSDAY WITH RIAD BAKEER

At Sip City, we’re on a mission to help you drink mindfully, in the same ways you eat and exercise mindfully. We’ve found that our city takes "work hard, play hard" to an extreme: DC is both the “fittest city in America,” and also the state with the highest alcohol consumption per capita second only to New Hampshire. And within the bar and restaurant industry, these habits are taken even further to an extreme due to the late nights, proximity to substances, and high-stress environments. We’re hoping that by opening an honest dialogue around these issues, we can help people reflect on their habits and our drinking culture. With that open dialogue in mind, we’re launching our new blog series called Reclaiming Thirsty Thursday. We’ll be using this platform to converse with industry folks about these topics, and how we can all support each other.

To launch our series, our team member Katie sat down with Drink Company bartender Riad Bakeer to talk about his experiences and his new love for switchel:


In the bar and restaurant industry, late nights, greasy bar food, and alcohol are staples of the lifestyle. In today’s drinking culture, and especially in DC, there’s been a push within the industry to improve this stigma and to open a dialogue around healthier alternatives. Riad Bakeer (@riadftw) is on the frontlines, experiencing these shifts with fellow coworkers trying to make healthier decisions. He’s noticed many friends and coworkers within the industry are transitioning to a sober lifestyle, and many are even spit-tasting (where you roll a drink around in your mouth, but then spit it out) in order to maintain a sober life without losing touch with their craft.

As a professional bartender, Riad loves the versatility of switchel. He loves that our drink is balanced, and the intricate flavors are wonderful for creating cocktails with a great deal of flavor complexity. He also discovered through working with our team at Sip City that switchel has its own culture as a product, and he is thrilled we have a local company committed to bringing it to light in DC (#DCAF). For him, this is the best part of living in such a multicultural city. He loves being afforded the opportunities to do something different and to see so many other options out there for people in all walks of life. "There is never one way to do something," he said.

Riad noted there are few healthy, zero-alcohol options on the market. He remarked that kombucha is not only misleading from a sugar and alcohol standpoint, but that he really dislikes the taste. He was able to share our Sip City samples with coworkers and friends, all of whom LOVED the product! With so many people today suffering from anxiety, depression, addiction, and many other afflictions, Riad noted that alcohol consumption can heighten symptoms, especially of depression and anxiety. For him, it is important that we have options like switchel available to people who are working everyday to get through these blocks to improve our lives.

During our conversation, Riad got behind the bar to experiment with our switchel. He crafted both a non-alcoholic and alcoholic version (see recipes below) of the "District Mule.” We found the drink to be superbly refreshing, slightly tart, and the ginger flavor built steadily over time. The base of both drinks is The District Switchel, a home-made honey-ginger syrup (or BarSmith's all natural, locally-sourced syrup), and soda water. For the non-alcoholic version, Riad added pinches of cinnamon and cayenne to mimic ginger beer, and in the alcoholic version of the drink, he added vodka. (Riad suggests using Murlarkey Divine Clarity, as it is a local product from Bristow, VA, and we are all about local!) The apple cider vinegar came through nicely in both versions of the drink as tart, but not overwhelming.

We so appreciate Riad’s openness, and his willingness to share and experiment with us! If you’re in the DMV area, head to Drink Company’s Death Becomes Us Pop-Up bar, which is open until November 4th. And a big thank you to Drink Company for letting us use their beautiful space to have this conversation and to play with these recipes!


Recipes:

Moscow Mocktail

3.5 oz The District Switchel (also interchangeable with the Nashville)

.5 oz of ginger syrup

2 oz of soda water

7 leaves of aromatic mint

1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon with a DASH of cayenne pepper


The District Mule

1.5 oz Vodka

2 oz The District Switchel

.5 oz of ginger syrup

2 oz of soda water

7 leaves of aromatic mint

1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon with a DASH of cayenne pepper


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