You might not know Maria Bastasch, but you should thank her. If you’ve ever had an amazing date at Compass Rose or a killer dinner at Maydan, it was probably is part because of the incredible wine programs she spearheads at both restaurants. Since she’s one of the best in the biz, we had her write up a little drink diary for us. Check it out if you like family history, CBD infused drinks and wines from all over the world. -ed.
While my nights of drinking and bar hopping seem to be few and far between, I am amused to open this window into my world of potions, fermentations, and tinctures. I should also probably mention that this is in no way prescriptive, proceed at your own rate.
I’m from the West Coast, born and raised. I grew up in very large family with a rich and weird cultural background. My mother is one of nine children born of an Irish and a Colombian immigrant. My father’s a fourth-generation baker whose family migrated from Austria and survived the Oregon Trail. The remnants of their brick and mortar, Luxury Bakery, still stand today in downtown Portland now as the West Coast Grocery Co. Pictures of my grandparents and his family still hang in the halls of the brewery and functioning adjacent bakery.
I find myself in Portland surrounded by my father’s family and swapping pictures of the old bakery. My family is not short on old photos or stories. My late grandmother, Joyce Bastasch, was a genealogist and tracked the family history back to the 1400s. We are gathered around a table eating pizza and drinking wine – the wine coming from a family farm who migrated with my family in the mid 1800’s. The Lady Hill Farm is a 5th generation project in the Willamette Valley. They have an incredible property and delicious array of wines. We enjoyed the Procedo Sangiovese extended skin contact rose, yes a Tuscan varietal in the Pacific Northwest! In Latin, procedo mean “to go forward”- everything felt right about this moment.
I later enjoyed a Coca-Cola with my grandfather, Frank, whom I credit for my career in the beverage industry. At the tender age of five, we would sit across from each other at the home bar that he made. (I may have stood on a barstool.) He would instruct me to pour shots of our favorite beverage into small glasses upon his declaration “line ‘em up, Mcgillicuddy!” So much to process here, but he was the first person to teach me how to tend bar and to take shots. To this day, I don’t know who “Mcgillicuddy” is, or why Frank thought this was appropriate, but coke is delicious and I think that is the real take away here.
I’m back in D.C. and ready to get to work. I start every morning with two large glasses of water. Yes, drink more water people! I then make coffee at home. I’m currently loving the Divino Nino from Passenger Coffee. All of their products are fantastic, but this batch is my favorite at the moment. Light, caramelly, nutty – no need for cream and it has quite the caffeine jolt that I love. This morning I take the coffee black. I make a smoothie with mixed frozen berries, baby greens, a blend of the following mushrooms (Chaga, Resihi, Lions Mane, Shiitake, Maitake, Agaricus, and Cordyceps) for various functions such as stress, immunity, and mental focus, Ashwaganda root (to help with stress), and Moringa, a dried leaf that is amazing with managing blood sugar and the immune system.
I add water, blend in the Vitamix and breakfast is served! Sometimes I can encourage Derek, my awesome roommate and life partner, to imbibe with me, but that usually requires that I add a banana and honey to the recipe.
I head into Maydan, where I run the wine program along with a number of other projects. I taste new wines from Lebanon from Couvent Rouge Winery, which is around 10 years old and certified organic. Along with doing some incredible work in their community, they are just lovely people. Rose Previte, owner of Compass Rose and Maydan, had the opportunity to visit them in Lebanon earlier this year. Earlier this year we imported wines made by Abdullah Richi, a Syrian refugee making wine at Couvent Rouge. His goal is to return home and make wine there, using indigenous Syrian grapes. When we heard this story, we agreed that we would make the commitment to import all his wine directly, to get him one step closer to his dream. This wine, albeit delicious, is an investment for Abdullah’s winery in Syria.
I work service and make sure to hydrate with lots of water. Maydan has a fire in the center of the restaurant and believe me, it’s warm. I also take an adaptogenic tincture that I have been researching from Anima Mundi to help me stay level and on top of things. Managing restaurants is hard work both physically and emotionally, and I find this really helps me stay up to the task.
I end the night with a giant glass of water with magnesium to help me sleep.
Water first, then coffee. Today I blend my coffee with MCT oil, butter, cacao, and my mushrooms blend. I blend it in the Vitamix so it’s frothy and rich. It’s also better than Adderall and helps me stay super focused for hours without feeling wacky.
I have a full work day that is filled with the following beverages:
- Vybes CBD tea from Streets Market on 14th and Florida
- Black and Tan draft oat latte from La Colombe
- More water
- More mushroom tincture
I end the night with a glass of wine from Cantina Della Volta. I love their Lambruscos because they are the ultimate summer time bubbly. We currently pour their Rimosso Sorbara. Just take a summer afternoon on a salty white sand beach in remote Mexico with watermelons, cherries, starfruit and fresh herbs – that is this wine.
Water with magnesium and sleep baby.
Just know that I drink a lot of water, and I did this morning. I also blend up a smoothie with berries, mushrooms, and moringa.
I meet a dear friend for ice coffee at Maketto on H St.
Then back to Maydan where I have tastings scheduled all morning. I try an array of delicious Rosatos from Sicily, soon to debut new amber wines from Georgia, and lovely Tunisian Carignan. Friday night service is always a little more hectic than usual. I mix up a goldenseal turmeric potion to help me stay ready for work. They are both amazing for anti-inflammation (Maydan has many stairs), energy, and anti-microbial. It tastes like malort and burnt dirt, but it’s the only thing that I have found to help joint pain.
The night is long and I head home as soon as my work is done.
I fall asleep, but not before a glass of water.
I pop over to Sense Studios on Georgia Ave. where owner Erin Derosa is mixing up hair concoctions and organizing an array of unique gatherings. She is a dear friend and my hair stylist for several years now. We discuss plans for the upcoming apothecary below the salon while she colors my hair. I show her the new tincture that we’ll carry in the shop as we unload all the newly arrived products onto shelves.
I take a break to meet Derek at the Red Derby for lunch. I used to love going to this bar when I lived in Mount Pleasant years ago. We have a burger and I enjoy the Anderson Blood Orange, light and zippy.
That afternoon I continue to work on the upcoming new menus for Compass Rose and Maydan. I am writing out menu descriptions for staff to better absorb the array of information.
In the evening, we watch Woodstock on Netflix and drink an organic, no sulfur added cuvee from Champagne Jean-Michel – yes I realize how all of that sounds, and I stand by every word.
Water and coffee and off to Maydan. Its Inventory day, yay!
I carefully count bottles and do paperwork for a few hours. I enjoy a Vybes tea from Streets again, blueberry mint this time.
I enjoy a night back at the house with homemade pizza and an Alto Adige Petnat by Cantina Furlani. It’s going on the Maydan menu soon so stay tuned!
Water and sleep.
Happy Labor Day! I wake up early and start with coffee, but not before having a glass of H2O.
Today I work from home and process inventory along with a few other fun Labor Day admin activities. We are preparing to host a Georgian Amber Wine Festival, and tickets just went up! I cheers with a mushroom tincture that has an amber hue so I think it still counts.
This night we intended to cook but the day got away from us and we decided to go to Oyamel. Now, I have not eaten at Oyamel in some time, and let me tell you it is still delicious. We enjoyed a salt foam margarita and all of the food. As one of the first restaurants I ever ate at in D.C., I am stoked to see it’s still awesome.
Water + Magnesium + Sleep.
Water and coffee and I am off.
Once at Compass Rose, where I am also the Wine Director, I finalize the long-awaited wines from Casa Vieja from Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico. We visited the vineyards this summer and have been waiting for the wines to make it into the States. The wines are made by Humberto ‘Tito’ Toscano, who insists on a low intervention process for his 150-year-old palomino and mission vines. They are delicious!
In the evening, Derek and I go to the Colombia Room, insert a joke about him knowing the owner here. We try their new tasting menu, “It’s so Bad, Its Good”. It’s not good, it’s fantastic, and my favorite of the year. They have taken iconic bar beverages like Zima, the Appletini, and the Long Island Iced Tea and put the Colombia Room magic into a new interpretation.
We head home, Water, Sleep.