• Sipster Team

3 ways to happy hour at home while supporting locals.

Who would’ve thought Virtual Happy Hours and cocktail kits would become a thing?

There’s no doubt that drinking at home has become a big part of our ‘new normal’.

It appears the pandemic has left a lasting mark on the way we drink our booze.

Introverts rejoice! After much campaigning from local coalition Cocktails for Hope, to-go cocktails are on the menu for a limited time in Illinois and 23 other states.

While rooftops and patios are slowly opening up for socially distant sipping,

virtual happy hours, to-go cocktails, and alcohol deliveries are here to stay!

Check out these 3 ways to happy hour at home, while supporting locals:

Bottled Cocktails-to-Go

Who doesn't like a good cocktail? It may not be as quick as grabbing a beer from the fridge. Sipping on cocktails that just makes life taste sweeter, doesn't it? The cocktails-to-go movement is about more than keeping happy hour alive. From a business standpoint, sales from cocktail kits are helping, but the profit margin for pre-packaged liquor at bars and restaurants is very low compared to individual mixed drinks. Because some drinks require several different kinds of alcohol, single servings are more cost-effective for customers as well.

In some states like New York and California, cocktails for pick up and delivery were quickly legalized. Esquire covered how some of the best bars in New York City were able to make the quick pivot and start selling pre-batched cocktails-to-go and cocktail kits within weeks of receiving their shelter-in-place order. In states where cocktails-to-go are completely illegal, venue owners are advocating for new legislation with their local and state representatives while trying to keep their businesses afloat by other means.

Cocktail Kits

Cocktail kits were one of the first solutions to emerge for thirsty fans of craft cocktails and the businesses that rely on them. Bars in Chicago, the Twin Cities, Dallas, Madison, and other cities with strict-ish liquor laws started selling pre-portioned kits with all the ingredients you need for an at-home happy hour in early March. Classics like the old fashioned, margarita, Moscow mule, and hurricane abound along with brunch staples like bloody Marys and mimosas. Some mixologists are batching up original recipes, such as the “Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi” from Summer House Santa Monica in Chicago, and many are offering their own twist on the hot new “quarantini.”

Curious about what your state is sipping the most during a lockdown? The Daily Meal scoured the internet to determine the most popular quarantine cocktails by state.

Virtual Bartending

But of course, the booze isn’t the only reason we love a good happy hour. A great bartender is what turns a few drinks into an experience. While indoor happy hour may not be back for quite some time, virtual bartenders are here for you. All kinds of organizations are sponsoring virtual happy hours to create a sense of community while supporting out-of-work bartenders, like the Tip Your Bartender social initiative by PUNCH and interactive happy hours from ad agency The Community.

All of these temporary solutions are buying time for beloved bars and keeping tenders busy, but especially in states where cocktails-to-go are still illegal, they are not generating enough sales to last for long. There are also plenty of initiatives like the Hospitality Industry Associates Fund raising money for service industry workers the old fashioned way. Hopefully, you can still patronize your favorite local drink spots while their barrooms are closed, but if not, raise a glass at home and support them with a virtual tip!

Here is a list of to-go cocktails from some of the best bartenders in Chicago. Time Out Magazine.

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