Now’s the Time
for Outdoor Drinking
Now’s the Time for Outdoor Drinking
A quarantine guide to alfresco refreshment
In this bizarre purgatory the pandemic has pushed us into, the days and weeks seem to blur together. For me, the only respite comes at the end of the week, when my partner and I grab some takeout from a neighborhood restaurant and walk it over to a small park, where we sit (alone) near a fountain and dine in the fresh air.
It's an escape. A much-needed break from routine. Which is why I mix up a batch of cocktails or pack a bottle of wine to bring along. Often, just to be safe and avoid any glances from passing police, I stash it in a large Camelbak canteen. This also helps keep the drinks nice and chilled.
We're not there to get drunk. Just to soften the edges and release the tension from a long week of uncertainty. And apparently, we're not alone. Retail alcohol sales jumped by 55% nationally during the third week of March, when many stay-at-home orders were first put in place, according to Nielsen data, and have held strong throughout the summer. The booze-delivery service Drizly reported a 439% spike in orders as Zoom happy hours took off.
Even restaurants began selling alcoholic drinks in to-go cups as many states and cities seemed to loosen their laws overnight. These curbside cocktails are what inspired me to pack a bottle of booze for our weekly outdoor dinners. And I couldn't recommend it enough.
Maybe it's the sunshine so few of us are enjoying these days as we hunker down indoors and work from home. Maybe it's the simple thrill of getting a slight buzz out in the open. But putting down a drink or two—responsibly social distanced, of course—is the mild rebellion we need at a time when so much seems to be out of our control.
It's time we Americans embrace alfresco aperitif culture. To slow down and appreciate the little things when we're feeling like so much has been taken from us. And a secluded spot in a park seems like the perfect spot to do it. Now you've just got to find the drink that works for you and your drinking buddy. Lately, we've been mixing up Negronis, spicy margaritas and simple Gin & Tonics. But, on occasion, we've indulged in a crisp white wine which, when poured from the spout of a Camelbak as the sun hangs low in the sky, hits just right.
Your Outdoor Drinking Essentials
You can get as fancy and specialized as you want. The key is something that’s easy to pack, simple to pour and hopefully maintains your desired temperature.
Greta Bauer, an epidemiology professor at Western University, told Vice that allowing drinking in parks is part of a larger conversation cities need to have about how to foster more responsible social interactions. “We can’t go back to the frequency and intensity of interpersonal contact that we had prior to the pandemic without spurring an increase in cases again,” she said.