Early on in the pandemic people like Molly Wellmann at Japp’s in Cincinnati and Sailor Guevara, an Uncle Nearest ambassador in the Pacific Northwest, were leading virtual cocktail demonstrations through Facebook live. Many other bartenders, band reps and mixologists have followed suit, offering a five o’clock distraction. That’s what the bar is all about, after all. It’s a place we can all go to forget about the world outside for a while.
I’ve done this with my childhood friends as we all begin to turn 40. We sit together on a video chat, mix ourselves a cocktail, and have a little party to celebrate how far we’ve come together and remind ourselves that we’re not going through this alone.
Now I’m starting to both attend and lead cocktail classes that are being held virtually; it’s a great way to connect with people and the best part is that you don’t have to worry about having too many. It’s a pandemic, treat yourself – you’re already at home.
I’ve done virtual whiskey tastings with Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill, and Woodford Reserve in the last few weeks. Next week I’m taking a class with DISCUS (Distilled Spirits Council of the United States) and Liquor Lab. I don’t even know what kind of cocktail we are making and at this point – even if it’s made of vodka – I will just be thrilled to do something other than sitting on the couch binge-watching Netflix shows.
I’ve also taken on the task of learning about Kosher cocktails so I can teach about them in a Zoom class. I knew that the process would be daunting but I love learning new things. In fact, I have really enjoyed learning about Kosher cocktails. I started by talking to The Bourbon Rabbi to sort out some of the particulars about the Kashrut. He then referred me to two mixologists who make Kosher cocktails exclusively. I learned a lot throughout the process and it made me feel reinvigorated and ready to put the Kosher cocktail Zoom class together.
Cocktails, much like food, can be a bridge. It’s all about sharing conversation, knowledge, recipes and good times. Even when we can’t be together in person, we can still gather over cocktails – no matter what life throws at us. If you want to throw
your own virtual cocktail party there are plenty of bars and package stores that are selling the kits you need to make it happen. Here in Louisville, Kentucky, Westport Whiskey and Wine is graciously putting together the Kosher cocktail kits for my class, but they have many other offerings as well. Trouble Bar has been selling all the mixers you need to make your own pitchers of cocktails, which makes for a splendid virtual brunch get-together.
To find such options in your area, look for the brand ambassadors for your favourite brands or talk to the folks at your top-choice local watering hole or package store. Pick a time and day that works for everyone. Friday afternoons probably aren’t the best for anything that requires an effort. Saturday nights and Sunday mornings are the best time to plan fun things for those who have more traditional working and family schedules.
Go all out and make an event page on social media so everyone can shop for the same ingredients. You can even do this with friends across the world or across the country. Make a point to break out your best glassware and dress for the occasion; wouldn’t it feel great to put on your best clothes for the first time in a long time?
Not to be exclusionary, but try to limit the number of people you invite to your soirée to maximise conversation. After all, staring at a screen full of people and not being able to get a word in edgewise is what we are doing Monday to Friday anyway.
Consider having a topic in mind and take turns musing on it, or have one person teach about a topic that is of interest to them. Remember: just because we can’t be together doesn’t mean we can’t still hang out. Hope to see you soon!