Quarantine Cocktails

Years ago, my husband gifted to me a monthly do-it-yourself cocktail subscription. Each month, a sleek cardboard box appeared on the doorstep containing tiny bottles of unique spirits and ingredients, along with clear instructions for crafting two delicious libations. Most recipes used just a fraction of the provided spirits, so we ended up with a mini bar that looked as though it had been pillaged by an indecisive ogre.

Fast forward to early March 2020, where the world seemingly stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The trip my husband and I had planned to Scotland for distillery tours was cancelled, and grocery store trips were severely limited, so I resolved to make the best of it and get creative with the spirit remnants cluttering up the shelves. Leftover grapefruit and lime juices shaken up with rum, brandy, and Chai liqueur resulted in a cocktail reminiscent of a spicier Hemingway Daiquiri, and a little smoked salt livened up the rim of a grapefruit-forward Paloma made with the last of the mezcal and tequila.

Within days, restaurants and bars closed, and within weeks, local laws loosened to allow cocktails to come to customers through carryout/curbside pickup or delivery. Patrons were able to browse online and place orders for entire bottles, premixed drinks, or cocktail kits like the one I received via snail mail.

Laurie Hellbusch, owner of Spirit World in Aksarben, has seen this trend take off in a big way. “As the weather warms, customers’ tastes are veering away from the cozy Old Fashioned toward Moscow Mules, Margaritas, and Atelie Aperitivo Spritzes,” she said. Each package Spirit World offers makes 8-12 cocktails, perfect for enjoying at home.

For those missing the camaraderie and variety of a tasting, local shops have found creative ways to bring the tasting to you through delivery or pickup of sample-sized wines or spirits to be enjoyed with others through guided online sessions. In lieu of branded events and happy hours, customers can order packages that feature flavor varieties and gear (think tees, hats, cups), just as you might receive by stopping in.

Where there is a will, there is a way, and you needn’t let a pandemic stop you from enjoying light, satisfying summer cocktails crafted by local bartenders and shop owners. Place your order, pour, and head outside to enjoy.

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