Good times, strong drinks and social distances

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Do the ice thing. Fill your ice trays, empty any ice you have into tupperware. You know the drill.

We’ve been advised to keep a distance of 2m from everyone in public, and the government has belatedly advised people to stay away from pubs, bars, restaurants and theatres (without ordering them to close, and without any ideas for how to support them, but that’s another rant). So how are we keeping up and catching up with friends? The Japanese have a word for this — on-moni, or drinking online, and we’re going to talk about it today.

I moved to Margate from London 6 months ago, so I feel like I’ve got an insight into this already; you have to schedule in regular catch-ups, and you have to beg, borrow and steal every group chat you can. But what more can you do in these unprecedented times?

Set up group chats with your friends, but remember that continuous partial socialising is no replacement for the good shit; staring into someone’s eyes and asking them which glorious carb they would happily abandon for the rest of their life. Video chats are really good, and thankfully we needed them for ‘knowledge’ ‘workers’ before this, so you’ve got good options.

Skype – every random colleague and contractor you worked with between 2008 and 2014 is already on here, so if you have an unrequited crush or work question relevant to that period, this is the place to go. Other than that, avoid as, as it appears to be flaky at best and it _feels like work_

Slack – I’ve been lurking in a Slack set up by friends for socialising purposes, and they’ve organised fitness classes, movie watch-alongs, shared playlists and shared tons of advice on stockpiling and socialising. Slack is great for this, especially if you’re already using it for work, so keep an eye out for opportunities to join in there.

Zoom – Apparently holding up the best under the onslaught of traffic. I haven’t used it yet because, frankly, I’ve been hanging out with my girlfriend and haven’t felt the pang of isolation so hard I will take the tape off my webcam, but this looks like the best option. It won’t be free, at some point, though, so be wary of getting stuck with it.

Google Hangouts – If you’re a google user, and you probably are, this might be your best option. It’s well set up for more than 2 to chat well, the infrastructure is super solid and no-one really needs to download software and set up new accounts. The downside is you’re, somehow, training Google’s robots to authentically chat and hence hastening the robot revolution but honestly, right now, is that your priority?

Twitch – More of a broadcast option here, so if you’re a blue tick on twitter or have other dark triad tendencies, you probably want to hop on here, find your niche and broadcast relentlessly when you’ll be online to your 5K+ twitter followers.

Discord – While it’s set up for gamers, Discord have upped their free limits and you can run your own servers for smaller groups so it’s great as an alternative to a group chat or similar, where you want to speak to just your pals and can dip in and out, but with bonus easy group audio.

Find time to game with your friends! If you’re lucky enough to be trapped in a house with other people, you can boardgame IRL, but for the rest of us, playing boardgames is a great way to periodically check in and have a tantrum about the english language. Turn based games are great because they don’t require synchronisation, but if you want to make a social event, find a game with a low barrier to entry and get your friends playing it with you regularly.

The Words With Friends and Scrabble apps are good for word games, obviously, and there’s for playing with strangers. I don’t actually play many other board games, but google will find you good online opportunities for most of them.

Consoles and PC games are great, if your friends are set up and able to play them. Make sure everyone is updated and installed though; no-one wants to be downloading a 16GB PlayStation update while everyone is on the hangout having a great time playing Doom. My Lads chat is currently putting together Quake deathmatches because we are, I guess, Xillenials, and retreating to a comforting childhood nostalgia is really very good right now.

Find your local mutual aid groups, on facebook or whatsapp most likely. Get on nextdoor and any local facebook groups and find out what your neighbours are up to. If we’re going to be singing Mr Brightside out of our windows together it’d be good to coordinate the time so you know when to lock the doors and put your noise cancelling headphones on.

Enough with the advice! You’re here for cocktails! I know!

We’ve been keeping it pretty trashy down here while we can still get hold of soft drinks, so drinking what I call a Piso Mojado (read some William Gibson, nerd), though it’s not at all:

50ml Islay single malt (the Aldi one, in this case)
Top with lemonade, garnish with a lemon slice

It’s surprisingly delicious. Lemonade is a completely slept upon mixer, especially for scotch. So is ginger ale!

In the mood for something fancier? Let’s talk Old Fashioneds.

The word cocktail has a great history; the best theory for where it came from is that these drinks should have the same affect as getting a race horse to cock it’s tail and trot out to race. How do you do that? Stick a thumb of ginger up the horses butt. The more you know…

When we say the old fashioned cocktail, we’re not going that far (give it a few weeks of isolation, eh), but the old fashioned _meaning_ of the drink called a cocktail, which is simply some spirits, a little sugar and some bitters.

There’s a recipe in the last newsletter, so I won’t repeat, but I just want to emphasise that this works with any spirit. Fancy a gin old fashioned? Go for it; it will slap.

Here’s something I wrote about the Negroni just after we entered the worst timeline (happened during the 2012 olympic opening ceremony, fyi). If you love the taste of pencil shavings, this is your drink, but you probably already knew that.

On The Negroni

We’ve been drinking Malibu Negronis here, which is a surprisingly tropical number with all the sadness you know and love from a regular negroni. 25ml each of Malibu, Campari and Punt e Mes.

If you’re not drinking booze, here’s something delicious for your 6pm cocktail hour with pals, just add a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a tonic water for something as intensely refreshing as a G&T without the hangover. If you have some cucumber to garnish it with, even better.

Get back to me here or on twitter ( if you have any weird holiday boozes gathering dust and you’d like ideas for what to do.

Until next time, Cheers!