It's five o'clock somewhere...

By Betty Gold / RealSimple.com
March 20, 2020

Without restaurants and bars to turn to for food, drink, and camaraderie, many are taking their social lives online and meeting friends for virtual happy hours though video chat from the comfort of their couches.

And why not? Following the moral imperative that is social distancing means increasing the distance between yourself and other people, which includes friends, loved ones, and members of your community. It’s not just better for your personal health, it's for the benefit of all of society. Practicing social distancing is one of the key ways we can slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Whether you’re under quarantine or not, this does translate to spending a ton of time inside. And one is prone to feeling cabin fever or social isolation when stuck indoors, even without a pandemic. We’re used to planning playdates, parties, pilates classes—the constant stream of anxiety-inducing news, fear for the future, and lack of communication can be more than a brunt to bear.

The good news is that modern technology has provided us with plenty of ways to maintain social connection and stay in touch with loved ones in a time of social distancing. One of the rising trends in the current virtual-social landscape: the “quarantini.” Raising a glass with friends, family, or coworkers over video chat can be a welcome distraction, and a low-lift way to keep up your social life without physical contact. So power up Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts and follow these easy guideline for hosting a “homemade” happy hour from your couch (alcohol not necessary, of course). And don’t miss these ways to keep your video chats creative.

Master Your Quarantini Cocktail

What is a quarantini, exactly? Simply stated, it’s a cocktail made from whatever spirits and mixers you have on hand at home. The quarantini is the drink version of your refrigerator cleanout stir fry or frittata; a boozy choose-your-own-adventure recipe that should be simple, stress-free, and shaken-slash-stirred in front of your computer screen.

If you’re new to making cocktails at home, here’s a quick mixology master class. Drink recipes are built on ratios. You’ve probably heard bartenders speak in ratios, in fact: “it’s a 2 to 1, 3/4, 1/4, and 2 dashes.” There are a couple of these magic ratios you can master (read: keep in your back pocket at all times) to demystify from-scratch cocktail mixing, because a variety of seemingly different drinks are all based on the same ratios.

Remember: 2 : 3/4 : 3/4, which means 2 parts of your base spirit to 3/4 part sweet and 3/4 part sour. Typically, you can think of a “part” as an ounce, so 2 ounces spirits + 3/4 ounce sweet + 3/4 ounce sour (if you like your drinks slightly less boozy, you can simplify the ratio to 2 : 1: 1).

From here, the opportunities are endless. Start by selecting your spirit of choice and base your “sweet” and “sour” upon it. Think of your go-to cocktail bar order and recreate it. "And experiment!" says Jane Danger, the national mixologist for Pernod Ricard. "Ransack your cupboard. Dried herbs and spices make great salts and sugars. Grind together and rim glass. Dried herbs and spices can also be used to make teas or simple syrups more interesting. Everyone has that one odd bottle laying around. Myself included."

You can also keep things as easy as possible: Booze, simple syrup, and lemon or lime juice. Another option? Go with wine, beer, sparkling water, tea, fruit punch, or nachos. I don’t think your FaceTime friend will judge (and it’s worth mentioning that alcohol does weaken your immune system).

Think Outside the Box With Buds

You should absolutely be reaching out to your close family members and best friends during this time—but how about that friend from home you’ve lost touch with, your former work wife, or a pal (or relative) that lives alone? Playing catch-up is the perfect distraction and a great way to feel connected. Vent, laugh, cry, talk about memes, play virtual board games. But most importantly, remember to listen.

Let Go of What You (or Your Space) Look Like

RIP regular showers, RIP non-stretchy clothing. If the idea of a bud seeing you at home with dark circles, crippling anxiety, and nonstop sweatpants has you stressing, you’re not alone. Sluggish and wild unease are the nationwide “current mood” right now. But that’s all the reason more to commit to something—and if it’s a social something, even better. Send the text, set a date, and don’t cancel. The second you see an on-screen smiling face back at you (and you see the messy bun is mutual), you’ll feel the cortisol start to subside.

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