Happy hour is usually a pretty social event—that drink always tastes better when we’re at a bar or in a restaurant with friends. You don’t need us to tell you how much that’s now changed this week so that we can all stay safe and slow the spread of Covid-19. But we still want that cocktail—preferably made by our favorite bartenders—and we still want to enjoy it with friends.
While restaurants are being discouraged or legally prevented from serving sit-down meals inside, many have switched over to offering curbside pickup—yes, even for cocktails. The Distilled Spirits Council of the US has been working with states to ease regulations. This week the group announced that in “New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, bars and restaurants will be provided a waiver for carry-out alcohol.”
Some wine and spirits retailers, such as Zachy’s in New York and Wally’s in Los Angeles, are providing curbside pickup or same-day delivery for liquor, wine and beer with minimum orders. Ester’s Wine Shop in LA, for instance, will deliver for free with an order of $100 or more. Call ahead and pay, then go pick up your package or have it delivered.
If you have a stocked bar at home already, boost your cocktail-making repertoire by ordering a kit, such as Tattersall Distilling’s Midwest Rye Manhattan Kit ($70). Or, this might be our favorite option so far: In West Hollywood, Calif., award-winning bar Employees Only will deliver their own cocktail kits (everything but the hooch) throughout the Los Angeles area via Postmates.
And the Alinea Group—which includes The Aviary and Aviary NYC bars—has just announced that the Aviary’s Jamaican Jerk Margarita kit will be available for pick up at all of the restaurant group’s five locations in Chicago and New York. The kit includes a bottle of tequila, fresh lime and pineapple juice and a jerk syrup and is enough for 10 to 12 cocktails.
That takes care of half of the equation. Now we just need friends. Of course, the Japanese already have a name for this: on-nomi, which roughly translates to “drinking online.” Start your tele-drinking session by logging in to your virtual cocktail hour via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, and share a drink and conversation in front of your screen, minus the threat of infection.
Bartenders around the country are also hosting #VirtualCocktailHour via Zoom every night at 6 pm Eastern. They will teach you how to make a particular cocktail and facilitate the conversation with your fellow online drinkers. Tips can be paid through Zelle and Venmo. And the Whisky Advocate has opened its weekly tastings up to the digital public beginning this Friday, March 20 at 3 pm, via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, #TastewithSpice.