CALL it "enter-change-ment": Get a buzz on, meet attractive new people and combat global warming — all in a single night. Welcome to Green Drinks, a networking event in which environmentalists of all stripes swap business cards while knocking back Coronas. This could be the most earnest group of imbibers in L.A.
"We're trying to heighten awareness of our dependence on oil and the destructive nature of an auto-dominated society," said Zack Beatty, explaining the ethos of Santa Monica Critical Mass, the monthly bicycle ride he leads, at a recent Green Drinks. "But it's also a party on wheels, we do this for fun."
Similarly, fun is the manifesto of Green Drinks, which now claims to be in 140 cities around the world. Locally, you can find them convening in Culver City, Silver Lake and Santa Ana.
Beatty was among those espousing biodiesel, permaculture and biomimicry as well as the fruits of fermentation at Duke's Hideaway, the Culver Hotel's elegant lounge.
"I'm a big believer in liquid fuel derived from corn," said Stuart Cooley, an energy efficiency engineer with the city of Santa Monica and a rum-and-Coke kind of guy, "and here we get to sample ethanol."
Founded in London in 1989, Green Drinks are casual, unstructured events coordinated by volunteers such as Barent Roth, an industrial designer who got things going locally in October 2005 at Duke's. Standing by a table laden with fliers promoting wind power, nontoxic house paints and the like, Roth guiltily sipped a gin-and-tonic. "We're trying to get organic wines and vodka," he promised. Fran Seegull, a strategic consultant for green businesses who has Daryl Hannah-like tresses, suggested something even more cohesive.
"I wanted to ask Barent to have green speed dating. Green is a proxy for values," Seegull said.
Silver Lake's Green Drinkers got pretty cozy as a recent night began to cool. A smaller but equally committed crew, they bunched together on velvet couches in the corner of a Mediterranean-style patio at Edendale Grill restaurant and bar.
It was clearly a love fest for college-educated like minds, as the evening's attendees cooed "very cool" and "awesome" upon hearing of such things as electric cars powered with solar energy. They added their e-mails to a contact list between bites of crispy fries with blue cheese and tarragon, washing it down with draft beer. Alex Thompson, 26, who had ridden his bike from Culver City, credited the group with helping him create his free "bike-mentoring" program, Roll With It, which matches novice cyclists with experienced "bike coaches" who help their charges become cycling commuters.
"I'm kind of timid and afraid, but they told me to shut up and put me in touch with people to make it happen."
Fries, friends and cleaner air? They'll drink to that.
Green Drinks Duke's Hideaway Where: Culver Hotel, 9400 Culver Blvd., Culver City When: 7 p.m. first Thursday of the month Price: Bottled beer, $6 Info: (310) 838-7963
Edendale Grill, Mixville Bar Where: 2838 Rowena Ave., Silver Lake When: 7 p.m. third Thursday of the month Price: Draft beer, $4 to $5 Info: (323) 666-2000
Proof Bar & Grill Where: 215 N. Broadway, Santa Ana When: 7 p.m. third Thursday of the month Price: Well drinks, $4 to $5 Info: (714) 953-2660 For more information: greendrinks.org