Cocktail hour makes COVID more bearable

We made it to the first week of May.

We learned of the coronavirus in February, the world shut down in March and we worked diligently, day in, day out, week after week. Until Cinco de Mayo.

We each had a small margarita with the Mexican lunch we ordered in that day. Two days later the bottle was still in the fridge. We hated to see it go to waste, so we decided to have a short happy hour.

We found a single cocktail and an hour of conversation to be a balm during what we have come to call "these trying times."

So we decided to schedule another the following week, and I offered to bring the drinks.

Now, I have been a gin-and-tonic girl for decades. But making a gin and tonic seemed too predicable. And too boring.

So I started looking online for some good drink recipes. soon became my favorite site, with its enticing categories of cocktail recipes - "63 summer cocktail recipes we love," "71 reasons to get into gin," "37 easy cocktails to make as soon as it's 5 o'clock somewhere" - accompanied by beautiful color photos of each drink. (I was smart enough to skip the one titled "Why it's time to drink more Jagermeister.")

I was so overwhelmed I could barely decide what to make. Summer was just around the corner, and a grapefruit radler sounded particularly refreshing.

We have reverted to plain old beer or hard seltzer a couple of times this summer, but we typically take our hosting responsibilities seriously. Some drinks have been inspired by destinations, others by whatever booze was on hand at home.

My drink selections kept getting more and more complicated. One week I was packing up a few supplies in the kitchen when my husband got suspicious.

"Why are you bringing the blender to work?" he asked me.


"We have new weekly happy hour, you know, because of COVID-19," I replied. He was smart enough to let the line of questioning end there.

We have a blender in the office, now, along with a cocktail shaker, citrus squeezer and a new set of old fashioned glasses.

We're enjoying these last few weeks of summer and the kinds of cocktails that seem to suit them, with plans to enjoy an ice cream drink before the end of September. And we've realized our busier schedules will mean cutting back to happy hour once or twice a month.

But we've already started talking about all the great fall and winter drinks, like spiked cider or hot chocolate. And we'll have plenty more to choose from, with recipes for the "71 best Thanksgiving cocktails" and "75 fun and festive Christmas cocktails" just a click away.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean