virtual happy hour
Ronnie Koenig

Two months into the quarantine, and with warmer weather finally reaching New Jersey, I was ready to be outside sitting at a bar drinking a daquiri, hanging out with my husband or friends. Unfortunately, since we’re still under stay-at-home orders, that’s not an option, and with my bar basics running low, things were looking dire. After finishing the good bourbon, I was down to a dusty sample-sized bottle of Absente and an old coffee-flavored bottle of vodka from back when flavored martinis were the latest trend.

Throughout the quarantine, meeting up with friends for virtual happy hour has been one thing I’ve genuinely looked forward to. Since we’re all desperate to connect, it’s nice to take time out of the day to just sit back and talk and enjoy an adult beverage together.

I knew I could easily just go buy some wine, but to me there’s something special about mixing up a proper cocktail. Like getting dressed in real clothes or putting on red lipstick, it’s something I can do to maintain a sense of normalcy. When I heard about Cocktail Courier, a cocktail kit delivery service that sends you all the ingredients you need for a next-level drink in one box, I was beyond excited.

When I’m mixing drinks at home, I usually stick to stuff I already have or can easily find. With Cocktail Courier, they send the exact ingredients for the drink you’re making (in my case, the Patron Tequila Watermelon Basil Margarita). Even pre-coronavirus, it would be unlikely that I’d go try to find or make watermelon purée. And although I know how to make simple syrup, the idea of infusing it with basil is just something that’s not going to happen when you have two eight-year-olds vying for your attention. (I can just imagine myself saying to them, “Sorry, I can’t help you with that, mommy’s making cocktail infusions!”)

I knew that I would be excited to try making this drink but what I didn’t realize was how thrilling just receiving the box would be. Now that there’s no place to go and nothing to do, getting a package in the mail (especially one filled with high-end tequila) was actually the highlight of my day.

virtual happy hour
Ronnie Koenig

That night, I planned to Zoom with a few of my mom friends. After getting my husband to agree to give both kids dinner and showers them (usually my domain) I set out my measurer, cocktail shaker and all the ingredients for my fancy margarita. Having these easy-to-find tools on hand has made a big difference in how I entertain. Back in the day when we could actually have friends over, I would think nothing of mixing up a French 75 or tropical rum punch for the twins’ birthday party (What can I say? Parents like to stay at my parties!) It’s not just about the drink itself—taking the time to put care and creativity into what you’re making and serving just makes things more special.

Following the cocktail kit’s instructions, I squeezed two fresh limes, then added the juice and other ingredients to my shaker, which was filled with ice. After vigorously shaking, I pulled the rocks glass out of the freezer where it had been chilling, filled it with ice and then poured in the contents of the shaker, along with the garnish (a dehydrated lime wheel) that came in the kit.

The drink was definitely craft cocktail bar-worthy, and so pretty that I had to give it a photo shoot before taking my first sip.

Unfortunately, the moms I was meeting up with online all had conflicts and we had to reschedule our virtual happy hour in the end. But no matter—taking the first sip of my fancy drink, I realized that taking time for myself was just as important as connecting with friends. For just a moment, I was on vacation in Mexico, taking in the atmosphere, savoring the tequila and the time to myself. Of course, three minutes later, my twins were in the kitchen asking me for snacks and trying to show me their TikTok videos, but a girl can daydream, if only for a moment, can’t she?

virtual happy hour
Ronnie Koenig

Even if cocktails aren’t your thing, my advice is to take some sliver of time for yourself and do something that’s thoughtful and specific and not rushed. These days, self-care comes in many forms, whether it’s making a special recipe or following a beauty routine, that effort is not extraneous—in fact, it’s absolutely necessary. And if you do decide to swap your Trader Joe’s wine for a special drink for your next virtual (or at-home) happy hour, that’s great, and if not, well, cheers to that too!

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