Group to start Drinking Liberally in Bellevue

Political change is brewing at the Mustard Seed Grill & Pub in Newport Hills.

Political change is brewing at the Mustard Seed Grill & Pub in Newport Hills.

A new Drinking Liberally chapter serving south Bellevue, Newcastle, surrounding areas (and anywhere else anyone wants to come from), will meet 7:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month, beginning April 7.

According to “host” Robert Sargent, of Newcastle, Drinking Liberally is a social opportunity to gather with other progressive minded politics and public policy junkies to discuss issues.

“There are no dues, no membership requirement, no RSVP necessary – just show up (or not), quaff, (or not), and chat,” he said. “The only requirement is to drink alcohol responsibly, or not at all. Also, by the way, just to be clear, the term ‘host’ is not intended to imply I’m picking up the tab!” he added.

Sargent said the club brings the energy of online social networks into the face-to-face world of old-style 19th century bar-room politicking.

The clubs are non-partisan, and do not endorse political candidates, but candidates are always welcome and encouraged to attend.

“What better way to share your ideas than by sharing a pitcher?” asked Justin Krebs, one of the club’s founders and directors. “Politics shouldn’t be reserved for rooms with fluorescent lighting – we need it in our everyday lives.”

Organizers say they see the gatherings as an easy first step toward greater political involvement as people learn from each other, trade talking points and form bonds that become political fuel during election season … and keep the community growing in between campaigns.

“Many progressives have found an online community, but they are hungry – or thirsty – for a real community, for face-to-face interaction, local compatriots … and new friends,” said David Alpert, the group’s webmaster and one of its directors. “This gives them a safe step away from their computer,” Alpert added.

The internet has facilitated the expansion of Drinking Liberally, which grew from one chapter in May, 2003, to 16, by the election of 2004, to 125 as 2006 began. But the organizers are adamant that the left’s strength is in the “offline” community – or the “real-world” as non-websurfers call it.

“Debating is more fun in person. Recruiting volunteers for a campaign is easier in person. Flirting is better in person. This should all be part of our movement, so it’s all part of Drinking Liberally,” said Matthew O’Neill, a director of the group who founded it with Krebs in May, 2003, in a dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.

The original chapter continues to meet in the same backyard of the same beer hall, with cheap beer, free hot dogs and lively conversation. Now, the occasional member of Congress stops by as well.

More information on Drinking Liberally is available at, or by e-mail to, or by calling Sargent at 425-941-3134.

The Mustard Seed Grill and Pub is located at 5608 119th Ave. S.E.