At the beginning of the pandemic I was all about the Quarantini, —a cocktail you made at home and drank alone, or with members of your household, during a period of imposed isolation.
“I’m having a Quarantini,” sounded fun.
It made me feel this imposed isolation thing might not be that bad.
Soon, Photoshopped images of these drinks, along with their recipes, started populating Pinterest. These recipes weren’t anything new. They were just your basic cocktail recipe jacked with citrus and rimmed with powdered Emergen—C.
To defeat the corona virus.
I looked forward to my Quarantini every evening. It helped lower my anxiety, took the edge off my isolation, and numbed the news.
But I knew the added citrus and the Emergen-C weren’t cancelling out the gin. A nightly Quarantini wasn’t sustainable for me.
My liver needed a break.
In early summer I started seeing ads for high-priced non-alcoholic, herbal concoctions that could replace gin, tequila or even whiskey in cocktails.
These exotic elixirs were sold through a website with an earthy, herbal, apothecary vibe. I ordered a sampler of three bottles from this company called Seedlip.
The first bottle tasted interesting. As in, not good.
The second tasted like liquid potpourri.
And the third would have worked better in my essential oil diffuser.
I scurried back to my Bombay Sapphire.
As summer segued into Fall and the plague continued to rage, I started noticing more companies coming into this “mocktail” space. It wasn’t just me. Everybody was drinking too much.
I saw an ad for one called Ritual. I bought a bottle and had some hope for it because it marketed itself as a gin alternative and not some random elixir.
And it turns out I don’t mind the taste of Ritual. It doesn’t taste like gin, but it does have that hot-at-the-back-of-the-throat finish that gives me a sense that I’m drinking something serious.
And really, that’s all I really want from a cocktail. I just want the sense that whatever I’m drinking is both delicious and powerful enough to propel me into a new headspace. And all I want from a cocktail hour is enough time to catch my breath and recalibrate.
My big takeaway from this experiment with gin alternatives is that it’s not the alcohol in the cocktail that matters. It’s the stopping of work, the taking out of the shaker and the jigger, the slicing of the limes, the zesting of the lemons. And when the concoction is made, whether with Bombay or something non-alcoholic, it’s the taking of the moment to admire it. And after that, it’s all about the sitting down and the sipping it slowly.
And in this way coming to know, that in the end, we’ll all get through it.
(This was was first published in the February 2021 edition of Mt Home Magazine)