This Wednesday the DC Public Library will host their first ever “Story Time” Gala reception. The library that is also home to the DC Punk Archive is branching out to collaborate with the best chefs and bartenders on the east coast. We spoke with Brown about why cocktails belong with books. “In order to get people to give money to the library, sometimes we have to serve them food and drinks.”
The event is a fundraiser for the DCPL’s children’s programs. Since alcoholic drinks and kids shouldn’t mix, the chefs and bartenders took a novel approach for the event. Each participant, which include people like Brown, Erik Bruner-Yang (Toki Underground, Maketto), Colin Sugalski (Toki Underground), Duane Sylvestre (Collectif 1806) and more, crafted a drink or dish based on a children’s book. Brown’s pick? Choose Your Own Adventure. “There are books that inspire you for life. When you’re a kid you stare at it over and over, read it over and over. We tried to pick books that just stuck in our head that we could translate into a drink and dish.”
Brown’s mother was an avid reader and exposed her son to the Bard at a very young age. But Derek Brown’s favorite book as a kid, Othello, didn’t really work for this event. When we asked Brown how he came to this conclusion, he told us, “There’s no more dangerous book for children than Shakespeare.”
Why? What’s so dangerous about a classic play? “Hey kids, here’s an alcoholic drink based off a play where someone kills based on jealousy!” Brown has a point.
After Shakespeare struck out, Brown went simple and fun, the Choose Your Own Adventure series. And what’s more simple than a vodka soda? “No one in the world expects me to make a vodka soda and to be honest with you, I make just a fine vodka soda, like every other bartender.”
But because it’s Brown, the simple vodka soda will be a very good, simple vodka soda. “I’ll be using a good vodka of course, Aylesbury Duck Vodka and we make our own mineral water that’s fresh and sparkling, which is what you want, trust me, soda guns should disappear from the world. Then we’re adding 1 of 2 flavors we’ve designed, one is pineapple, basil, habanero and one is cranberry, lime and sage.” The drinker will get to choose their own adventure. Get it? “In each case we get to present two flavors and they’re light flavors. I thought about it like those people that want vodka soda with a splash of cranberry.”
Brown’s partner for the event will be Johnny Spero of Jose Andre’s Minibar. The chef will offer white meringues, one apple water flavored, one smoked foie gras. More adventure for your choosing.
In addition to the best mixologists and chefs in the District, the event will feature a performance from Walter Martin, formerly of The Walkmen.
Brown told us, “when I think of the library it’s hard to feel anything but love and support.” You can show your support this Wednesday.
The DC Public Library Foundation’s “Story Time” Gala Reception in the Great Hall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is Wednesday, March 16. Proceeds from The Story Time Gala will support the DC Public Library Foundation and the Library’s children’s programs that serve more than 25,000 children a month in every Ward throughout the District. Tickets are still available.