Drinks

The Coolest Ways to Drink Socially from a Social Distance

Whether you prefer to cheers with beer, wine, or the hard stuff, you don't have to drink alone this spring.


Rebel Rebel bartender Margot Mazur leads a virtual wine tasting on Zoom. More Rebel Rebel Online Wine School classes are on the calendar this spring. / Photo courtesy of @bcstudiola

There is no shortage of booze to be drunk during this time of isolation: Essential businesses like liquor stores and breweries are keeping their inventories full and innovating with curbside pickup and delivery options so you certainly won’t go thirsty. But if, while staying socially distanced, you’re missing the social aspects of drinking, you are not alone. That’s why Boston’s bottle shops, breweries, and bars are coming up with new ways to bring the fun to you, from private group wine tastings over Zoom, to the first-ever virtual Harpoon 5-Mile “Road”race. Whether you prefer to cheers with beer, wine, or the hard stuff, check out these socially distanced ways to drink socially this spring.

Urban Grape employees Lydia Gill and Stephanie Thomas are curating pickup packages so you can join them for virtual wine tastings and more. / Photo courtesy of the Urban Grape

Wine

Virtual Events with the Urban Grape

South End wine shop the Urban Grape remains open for online ordering and delivery, while it’s also reimagining a few of its popular events for the socially distanced era. UG’s wine educator Lydia Gill is bringing her weekly wine tastings to the web every Thursday and Friday from 5-6 p.m., with a new series called Clink Progressively. Inspired by UG’s signature light-to-dark sampling scale, each Zoom meeting focuses on two wines, available to purchase from the shop and sip along with Gill and special guests. Also: The Zoom happy hour is taken to another level with Urban Affairs Online, UG’s personalized virtual wine education classes for groups. Be the “office” hero and schedule an hour-long meeting with Gill featuring three wines, delivered to each participant’s door by furloughed restaurant industry workers hired to help. Check out all of the Urban Grape’s virtual events at theurbangrape.com.

Online Wine School with Rebel Rebel

Class is back in session: Rebel Rebel Wine Bar’s intimate Sunday afternoon wine education series has moved to Zoom. Some weeks, owner and wine maven Lauren Friel will be online for no-holds-barred natural wine info sessions, while other weeks Rebel wine pro Margot Mazur will host tasting sessions based on themes like Womxn in Wine, and wines from Italy’s Piedmont region. Along with a ton of other inventory, Rebel Rebel is selling featured wines online for contactless pickup or Thursday delivery, but “you do NOT need to have access the wines we’re planning around to participate,” Friel says. Her staff is happy to offer comparable suggestions around the day’s topic. “These classes are designed for the times, meaning there’s plenty to learn no matter what’s in your glass.” She adds that there will be plenty of discussion about geography, geology, climate, history, and more—even if your glass is empty. Stay in the loop about Wine School topics on social media and rebelrebelsomerville.com.

Craft’d founder Christine Healy (pictured along the top row) has hosted virtual Beers with the Brewers events with folks from (L to R) Castle Island, Redemption Rock, Lost Shoe, and more Mass. breweries. / Screenshots courtesy of Craft’d Company

Beer

Virtual Beer Dinners with Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen

Brato chef Jonathan Gilman is teaming up with friends in the beer industry like Lamplighter and Idle Hands to bring five-course beer dinners into your home. Curbside pickup is scheduled at the collaborating brewery, and each package includes ingredients to make two servings each of five different dishes, plus instructions from chef Gilman; a curated four-pack of beers from the collaborating brewery; and a Zoom invite to virtually share the meal with members of the Brato and brewery teams, who will be live online to explain the menu and answer questions. Order online for event-day pickup at the participating brewery. Stay tuned for future event announcements on Facebook.

Virtual Beers with the Brewers presented by Craft’d Company

From the pleasantly sweet smell of fermenting grains that usually greets you in the doorway to whiling away an afternoon with multiple rounds of corn hole, nothing compares to visiting a brewery. But while taprooms remain closed, beer lovers still have a chance to meet head brewers and get a look at the processes, thanks to local beer events company Craft’d and its founder, Christine Healy. Most nights at 7 p.m., Healy invites brewery owners from across Massachusetts to join her for live-streamed versions of her popular “Beers with the Brewers” guided tasting and behind-the-scenes event series. Free to watch live on Instagram and Facebook, and also archived online, these hour-long talks can be enjoyed with or without the featured beers, but many participating breweries are making it easy to play along by offering curated selections ahead of each event available for curbside pickup. Check out the Craft’d calendar at craftdcompany.com.

Beer Events at Home with City Brew Tours

The professional designated drivers behind City Brew Tours, who typically guide drinkers through a day of taproom touring, are parked at home like the rest of us right now. But that gives them time for other hobbies, like homebrewing and palate-perfecting—and they’ve come up with unique ways to bring those experiences to the isolated public. Check out the online options to schedule a private homebrew experience, complete with ingredients to make a case of your own beer, and three hours of guidance and entertainment; as well as public and private cheese and beer-pairing parties, at citybrewtours.com.

Harpoon Nationwide 5-Miler

Seaport brewery Harpoon’s annual five-mile race is poised to raise more money for ALS research than ever before, because for the first time, the 5-Miler is happening virtually—thus, registration is unlimited and not constrained to folks physically in Boston. Register for the May 17 run, print out your digital “bib,” download the official race playlist, and pick your route—you can even run on your treadmill. Of course, selfies are encouraged from wherever your race takes you: Use the hashtag #Harpoon5miler to be part of the community. Race registration closes May 8. It supports the Cecil B. Day Laboratory for Neuromuscular Research at UMass Medical School in Worcester, and also includes digital coupons from Harpoon partners that you can use to order takeout. Locals can also opt for a registration tier that includes a T-shirt, physical race bib, and a four-pack of beer, picked up curbside from the brewery. Get all the details and sign up at harpoon5miler.com.

This post author’s home bar is stocked with local spirits, tons of glassware, and Humphrey the Cocktail Whale. Show off your home bar to participate in the Boston Shaker’s social media contest this month. / Photo by Jacqueline Cain

Spirits

Boston “Shaker In Place” Home Bar Contest

How’s your liquor cabinet looking these days, now that we’re doing all of our drinking at home? The folks behind the Boston Shaker shop want to see. Through April 20, share photos of your at-home bar on Instagram with the hashtag #ShakerInPlace (among a few other social-sharing steps) to be entered to win prizes in categories like Garnish Game, Bitters Collection, and more. Check out the full contest rules on Instagram—and if your bar is looking bare after 30 days of drinking at home, know that the Boston Shaker is open online.

Cocktail Classes with Bully Boy Distillers

The mixologists temporarily out of work from Roxbury’s own distillery are joining the ranks of bartenders who are sharing their skills online. Bully Boy’s lead bartenders are teaching cocktail classes via Zoom that cover all the basics—ever wondered why you shake versus stir?—and also teach two different cocktail recipes. The first classes, scheduled for April 17 and 18, have sold out, but more dates will come online very soon. Check out bullyboydistillers.com for details.