Derek Brown is a leading spirits and drinks expert behind four of the country's most respected craft cocktail bars, James Beard Award-nominated Columbia Room and Mockingbird Hill, as well as Eat the Rich and Southern Efficiency, all located in Washington, D.C.
A native Washingtonian with deep ties to the city — his great-grandfather was once D.C.’s police chief — Derek admits that Washington provides a unique vantage point as the capital city, having mixed drinks for everyone from royalty, ambassadors and senators to fellow Washingtonians, interns and students. He’s concocted cocktails at the White House, clinked glasses with Martha Stewart and was appointed Chief Spirits Advisor at the National Archives.
Playboy recently ranked Derek #5 on its list of “10 Entertainers, Thought Leaders and Heroes Who’ll Save Us in 2017,” declaring that “from happy hour to closing time, this man could be the most powerful unelected official in our nation’s capital.”
Derek’s passion for spirits has taken him across the globe, where he’s learned about the integral role drinking plays in the culture, customs and values of communities worldwide. He’s also written about drinks and drinking for The Atlantic, The Washington Post and Bon Appétit, among other publications.
Derek heads Drink Company, the umbrella entity for his four Washington watering holes, and when he’s not behind the bar, sits on the DC Public Library Foundation board of directors. Derek is also a spirits judge at the prestigious San Francisco World's Spirit Competition, is on the advisory council for BevCon Charleston, serves as Mixology Chair for Share Our Strength's “Taste of the Nation” event and in 2015, was named Imbibe magazine’s “Bartender of the Year.”
His innovative approach to bartending lead The Wall Street Journal to describe Derek’s methodology as “a systematic, almost scientific, strategy for inventing.” Case in point: his signature drink, “The Getaway,” which mixes black molasses rum with artichoke liqueur and fresh lemon juice.
As for his favorite drink? That would be a dram of good whiskey.
Derek lives on Capitol Hill with his son Avery Strummer Brown.