It’s probably safe to say COVID-19 has changed my relationship with alcohol, and I’m probably not alone.
Many people are drinking more due to boredom or anxiety, but if you’re anything like me, that is probably evened out by the fact that you’re not actually going out.
Having lived for decades in England, the simple fact that going to the pub for a drink is no longer an option is nothing short of a cataclysmic cultural change. Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s still a pretty big deal.
In fact, I was always taught that “problem drinking” was mostly the solitary kind, when you’re drinking for the sake of the drink more than the context. The flipside is that it makes it really difficult to not drink when you’re out with a group. Everybody just assumes you’re either pregnant or a recovering alcoholic.
Particularly now, with the weather suddenly turning all nice and sunny, my soul clamours for us to be sitting outside, with a cold pint of something nice, sharing snacks with the dogs under the table.
How quickly that idea has become almost unnatural, tainted by the fear and necessary caution of not spreading this disease that is — quite literally — everywhere (or so we have to assume). It’s nothing short of surreal.
So in this new coronapocalype normal that increasingly resembles The Twilight Zone, a drink becomes much more than a drink. It’s a reminder of what we lost, a solace in uncertain times, and a way to still hold on to something that might otherwise slip away. Hence the fact that many people are having virtual cocktail parties, trying to capture the social aspect of drinking together.
Myself, I have turned to my trusty friend Gin.
While I certainly appreciate other spirits, I have long decided that Gin is my favourite. I love the way the perfumed botanicals infuse it with the evocative flavours of a place. So naturally I enjoy sampling local variations, of which Oregon has plenty. Ryan Reynold’s Aviation, produced in Portland, is famous and justifies its reputation for being a very strong drink (plus I’m a big fan of the actor’s funny video and of his recent initiative to donate 30 percent of its online sales profits to the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) to support on-trade members affected by coronavirus). But there are plenty of other nice tipples such as Wild Roots, and even my small local liquor store offers at least two dozen choices. If ever I’m feeling homesick for England, I go for something like Bombay Saphire (loving the fact that you can get twice as much for a quarter of the price over here) but the local fare sure holds its own.
Gin and tonics are wonderful things. Refreshing, and you can even feel virtuous about fitting in some vitamins with the citrus fruit (I’ve been living out of cans for so long that this really counts). Yesterday I had fresh wedges of lime, lemon and grapefruit in mine, and cucumber also goes nicely if you can find it. The shop had run out of ice, but chilling the glass and the tonic worked well enough.
There is a loving sort of process to preparing a G&T, then enjoying it outside on a hot day. To me, it brings back a lot of happy memories and encourages me to enjoy my surroundings in all their Spring glory. And with the promise of one hell of a strange Summer yet to come, you’d better believe that I’ve stocked up on quite a few bottles.
#QuarantinedThoughts is a random series of ramblings and reflections brought about by a mild case of cabin fever. The author currently resides in an Oregon field with her bewildered British husband and “The Red Headed League” a family of Staffordshire Bull Terriers named after Sherlock Holmes characters.