When the lockdown first began, many things we had taken for granted were suddenly made impossible. Our social lives moved online. Our shopping behaviors changed. We had to adapt. One of the things we were quickest to adapt to, however, was drinking at home. Reports indicate that take-home alcohol sales in Ireland during March and April were nearly 40% higher than the same period last year. Stout and spirits were some of the categories to experience the largest upticks as people sought to replicate the drinks they were missing from the pub. Early on, people got creative with Zoom happy hours and virtual pub quizzes. The internet was full of humorous ‘quarentini’ content as we collectively coped. American celebrity chef, Ida Garten, joined in with recipe for an outrageously large cosmopolitan. Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski & Audra McDonald charmed us with a booze-filled rendition of ‘Ladies Who Lunch.’ Stanley Tucci’s suave tutorial on how to make a negroni earned him an outpouring of Twitter praise. Like lounge wear and video calls, stay-at-home drinking culture has become a staple part of many people’s lives during this time.
Many brands wasted no time to meet their consumer’s quarantined style of drinking. According to social analytics agency, ListenFirst, engagement with alcoholic drinks brands on social media has increased by nearly 300% during lockdown. An industry whose marketing efforts would typically centre on selling a vibrant social life, the majority of brands pivoted to showcase how their product could be enjoyed at home. Grey Goose for instance, launched video series, Home Pour, where they partnered with bartenders from around the world to create signature cocktail recipes. José Cuervo partnered with World Champion bartender, Tom Dyer, on Instagram for Ready Steady Cuervo, an online challenge to help people use what they could find in their kitchens for tequila cocktails. During the period in which bars and pubs were closed in Ireland, small businesses were also resourceful. Dublin’s Big Romance sells selection boxes of craft beer and canned cocktails, along with refillable growlers of draft beer. Rascals Brewery sells mini kegs giving you the chance to enjoy a freshly poured pint, or glass, of your favourite beer from the comfort of your home. Catch Events deliver Quarantini boxes weekly and every Friday night host live cocktail masterclasses on IGTV . The Celtic Whiskey Shop has been offering weekly themed cocktail kits, which include a Zoom mixology demonstration. Virtual wine tastings have taken off from several local suppliers and bigger brands have partnered with influencers to facilitate them. Graingers Hanlons Corner in Cabra made headlines with their successful ‘Dial-A-Pint’ service, as home delivery became an inventive solution for several local pubs. As restrictions began to loosen, take-away pints and cocktails were soon being offered all over town.
As June 29th ushered in a new phase of lessening government restrictions, some pubs in Ireland were able to reopen under strict social distancing measures. However, when images circulated of tightly packed crowds in Dublin’s Dame Lane, the government announced it may now have to reevaluate. It would also be reasonable to expect the pandemic will make many people slow to visit a pub again. Thus drinking from home options will likely remain relevant for quite some time. With the end to Coronavirus only distantly on the horizon, and the threat of a recession looming, the way that people drink will inevitably continue to evolve. All eyes will be on the industry to tread responsibly. Brands and business owners will need to be stay close to consumer attitudes and keep an innovative and collaborative spirit to rise to the challenge.
Visit drinkaware.ie for more information about drinking and your health.