The closure of bars across the greater Phoenix area for anything other than to-go orders has been tough for drinkers and bartenders alike. Drink-slingers everywhere are out of work and in need of cash, while most of their patrons are at home maintaining social distancing instead of bending elbows at their favorite watering holes. Valley resident Meg Taylor has an idea to help out both camps, which she calls “quarantending.”
As the name implies, it's a way of whipping up drinks while under quarantine, whether it's self-imposed or otherwise, during the coronavirus-related shutdowns. Bartenders from around the country supply the recipes while folks make the drinks and possibly offer tips.
It’s a simple idea that Taylor, a benevolence coordinator at a local church, hopes will alleviate some of the stress of the current crisis.
“It’s this small thing I wanted to do that could help others and contribute to making people happy, which is something we all need right now,” Taylor says. “Everyone's taking a hit from [the coronavirus pandemic], but with bartenders, a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck and have lost their jobs.”
Here’s how quarantending works: Every Friday afternoon, Taylor will post recipes for cocktails and appetizers submitted by bartenders in Phoenix and other U.S. cities on her Instagram account. Each will credit a particular bartender, include their Cash App or Venmo handles, and feature a suggested amount to tip.
“You can make some really great drinks at home and then knock them back some cash if you really enjoy it,” Taylor says.
Virtual tip jars recently have become a popular option for assisting cash-strapped and unemployed bartenders affected by the COVID-19 situation. Taylor says her idea builds on the concept of giving something back to those chipping in.
“It adds some fun to the experience and you’re getting something in return,” she says. “I wanted to include the recipes, so you can sort of learn a skill or some of the little shortcuts for [popular] drinks while helping others. It's something positive you can always [use] later when times are good again.”
Taylor came up with the idea after her sister and sister’s boyfriend, who both tend bar in L.A., took a hit after bars started closing in the city last month in the wake of the coronavirus spread. As a former bartender herself, Taylor remembers how tough it can be financially.
“It's a job that, by its nature, you're not really able to develop an emergency savings account, and, if you do, it's really small,” she says. “Some people are able to stack two or three bartending jobs, but if places are closed, you’re out of work and totally sunk.”
Taylor began posting quarantending recipes on her Instagram account on March 20. She’s featured 16 recipes so far, ranging from twists on classic cocktails like the Super Berry Cosmo and Apple Crisp Martini to such decadent selections as a Bailey’s Cream Shake. There are also springtime takes on the Negroni and Gin Smash, old favorites like the Sidecar and Whiskey Sour, and a couple of enticing small plates like guacamole and a bean salad.
“It’s been a pretty varied selection,” Taylor says. “I’m hoping to have something that everyone will want to try.”
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She says it’s also been a fun experience so far, including helping her get over anxiety about social media.
“It turns out I'm terrible at social media, so I’ve felt a little awkward the first time I posted everything,” Taylor says. “I’ve always enjoyed doing things that are helping the most amount of people, which is part of my job, so this is a fun version of that.”
Taylor hopes to have more contributions from Valley mixologists. (Recipes can be sent to her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.) So far, most of the entries have been contributed by her bartending friends; a handful have come from Phoenix, while the rest are from people in states like Texas, Missouri, and Illinois.
“I really want people to send me their stuff so I can get it out there,” Taylor says. “The response has been good, but there are a lot of bartenders hurting out there right now. People have been sending, which sort of just goes to show that everyone really wants to step up to help others. I mean, it could be a long time before we all can go out and socially drink again.”