Tantri Wija, in the name of research, will write about drinks (not just alcoholic) and the local drinking culture.

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WE’RE DEBUTING a great new feature this week. It’s called “Cheers!” and if you’re interested in drinks (not just the alcoholic variety), drinking, or the culture and history of drinking, it’s time to belly up to the bar.

The Seattle area is a hotbed for craft beers, home brews, whiskeys, ciders and cocktails, with more than our fair share of new distilleries, beer nerds, fancy sodas and ways to drink coffee. In other words, there’s a lot of drinking going on around here.

Tantri Wija, an especially fun and informed writer who moved here recently and already has displayed her wit and way with words in The Seattle Times, will write most of the Cheers! stories.

This feature will replace Andy Perdue’s “The Grapevine,” but Andy still will write wine stories for Pacific NW magazine as part of the Cheers! mix, including the cover story for our annual Wine Issue, plus his lists — top 50 wines, top 50 wines priced at $30 or less, and the perfect cases for winter holidays.

Cheers! will appear every other week, alternating with another new feature, “Gather,” a look at how and where Seattleites find their own communities. (More on Gather next week.)

But starting now, it’s the debut of our consumer-oriented take on drinks, served up with a little personality, creativity and attitude.

Tantri will share drink recipes you can make at home, introduce you to drinks you might not have heard of (and the people making them) and fill you in on new local trends.

And she might surprise you. Like with this, from her debut column this week:

“ … In the past 200 years, ‘mixology’ has been elevated to an art form, and there is nothing that cannot make its way into a cocktail now, from bacon to hot sauce to an actual pickled human toe. We should try them all.”

Cheers! to that.