Being stuck in the humdrum of isolation due to covid-19 doesn’t mean you have to drink alone.
Yvonne Langen, an Ottawa food blogger with an affinity for cocktails, is turning social distancing into the perfect opportunity to offer her Instagram followers a sought-after skill by way of hosting her own virtual happy hour. Via six-to-seven-minute clips, her viewers learn the basic how-to’s of cocktail making through Langen’s witty and conversational instruction, while simultaneously picking up a few fun facts and historical tidbits along the way.
The sole occupant of a 700 sq ft condo in the heart of downtown Ottawa, Langen saw that happy hours around the world were still on, as participants connected virtually through the Zoom application, and thought why not take it a step further?
“Maybe I can teach people some cocktail skills and they can come out of this as better home bartenders,” she says.
Using only items that she thinks people are likely to already have in their homes, most cocktails are limited to a few ingredients that often include a base spirit, a citrus and a sweetner -- sometimes with the addition of liqueurs or bitters.
Riding the initial positive response, Langen is currently on the fourth week of what she refers to as the “cocktail curriculum,” and participation has been steadily growing.
“It’s a way to create a sense of community in this time when we’re all living in isolation,” explains Langen.
And, in hopes of mimicking a bit of normalcy, her #formalfridays give viewers something to look forward to, as participants are encouraged to toss aside their sweatpants and dress up in their evening’s finest.
While focusing mainly on classic cocktails (such as an old-fashioned, negroni or Manhattan), Langen is also encouraging folks to experiment with infusions (gin with earl grey tea, vodka with green tea) and having viewers make simple syrups (“as long as you have sugar, you can make it!”).
“I think it’s daunting when you look at cocktail menus at restaurants, but it really only takes about five minutes,” explains Langen.
An early adopter of the bourbon trend, Langen’s love of cocktails grew from a joy of entertaining and led her to launch her blog, Taste and Tipple, almost three years ago, where you’ll find an equal focus on both food and drink.
“I feel like food and drink is a great way to communicate. It’s kind of a universal language and it’s a great way to show people how much you care about them,” says Langen. “I consider the virtual happy hour as an opportunity to digitally host a wider community and certainly more people than could ever fit in my condo.”
With plans to continue hosting into the foreseeable future, Langen is looking forward to getting through this pandemic, eventually, so that she and her virtual viewers can shake up a cocktail for their guests, in person.
Follow along with Langen’s virtual happy hours Monday-Saturday at 5pm E.S.T on her Instagram account @tasteandtipple.