INSPIRATION • May 2020
You’ve exhausted your Netflix, so now it’s time to get creative. For those with free evenings to fill, we ask experts from the worlds of art, food, cocktails and more for ways to get together with friends online and throw a special night in
Says who: Laura Jackson, founder of Hoste London
My favourite self-care practice has always been buying lovely local produce, taking time to set a gorgeous table and cooking a nice dinner. With my supper club, Hoste London (including our monthly newsletter, which is a big curation of all things culinary) and my #makeamealofit hashtag, I want to make meals special again – almost like a little restaurant in your home. Design and share a menu with friends, put some love into your tablescape, choose something from a cookbook you’ve never had the time to do (not too complicated, though – save Heston for later!). Cook together but, if there are a lot of you, maybe eat offline and regroup afterwards to share. Don’t forget a cocktail – I don’t do anything without a margarita in hand! – and remember that lighting can make or break an atmosphere.
Says who: Jack Sotti, award-winning bartender and UK ambassador for Tanqueray gin
To achieve the right balance for your cocktail night in, kick things off with a bubbly, bittersweet spritz, such as a gorgeous Gin Fizz, then move into the likes of your Old Fashioneds and Espresso Martinis toward the end. To mix the perfect Gin Fizz, you’ll need 45ml of Tanqueray Number Ten gin, 20ml of fresh lemon juice, 10ml simple syrup and one teaspoon of orange marmalade. Shake hard and strain into a Collins glass topped with creaming soda. And have fun with the garnishes – maybe some orange peel or mint. Each week, have someone new choose the cocktail and talk everyone through it. If you need some inspiration, the Diageo Bar Academy has hundreds of cocktail recipes to choose from – which you can separate by cocktail type, occasion, or brand – each with recipes simple enough for any group to follow.
Says who: Jennie Webber, founder of Wild Life Drawing
We’re a life drawing class but, instead of naked humans, we use animals and nature. Either we go to the animals, or they come (via my trusted animal handlers) to us, but either way it’s all about connecting to the natural world through art. I’ve done a few online classes recently, and find Instagram Live, where people can comment, is the best way – it’s that back and forth interaction that really makes a class. Start simple when agreeing on your subject matter and bear in mind this is quarantine content – it doesn’t matter if you draw stickmen or have been to art school. Simply doing the same thing at the same time is unifying enough. For the big reveal, it’s more fun if you’ve all drawn the same thing, that way it’s comparative, but not competitive. Make sure that wine or cake is on your equipment list and perhaps all pitch in to a playlist on Spotify to listen to while you lose yourself in art.
Says who: Greg Roberts, wine educator at the Laithwaite’s Wine School
Round up your favourite oenophiles – you’re in for a sophisticated evening full of high quality wine. Start strong with a dry Riesling – my suggestion would be a Von Reben with its crisp apple freshness. The wine’s high acidity allows it to pair with most foods, especially those with a high fat content – as the Riesling cuts through it like a knife. I’d suggest pairing it with fish and chips for a treat. Then it’s time to talk wine: what notes can you pick up on the palate? What are the smells, textures? There are no wrong answers. To make this a running thing, try a different wine every week: The Wine Flyer (Laithwaite’s exclusive wine club with British Airways) sources the best wines on the market so you can take your taste buds on holiday at home.
Says who: Emma Gannon, founder of @thehyphenbookclub
I started The Hyphen Book Club pretty much on day one of lockdown. Like everyone else, I was feeling incredibly anxious and uncertain, and I found myself turning to books to calm me down. The first book club I hosted felt so cosy and intimate, as if we were all together on our sofas with a glass of wine having a deep and meaningful chinwag. My top tips for starting your own? Pick an uplifting book – reread an old favourite or find a novel that people can really escape into (Normal People by Sally Rooney is brilliant). Make sure you give people time to get into the book – I would put something in the diary for about three weeks’ time and send everyone regular reminders before the date, so that they remember to log in. Finally, be kind and constructive. In our first book club, people were responding to each other’s comments and chatting away with new people. It’s a lovely way to feel part of a community.
Emma’s debut novel, Olive, is out in July
Says who: Sophie More, marketing director of BrewDog
For many, the pub is naturally high up there on the list of things we’re missing most in lockdown. Which is why we launched The BrewDog Open Arms, a virtual bar where people all over the world can come together, share a beer together, and even take part in a good old pub quiz. It’s a great way to catch up with friends and deliver a hit of much-needed hit of connection (and entertainment). First rule: make sure you pick the perfect host – you need someone charismatic to get the energy going and then slam on the breaks when things get too rowdy (check out our own quiz masters Tim Warwood and Adam Gendle for inspiration). Switch up the rounds – you don’t have to just stick to quiz questions. Throw in a dance-off, try a blind beer tasting or even a cooking competition. Finally, plan your drinks ahead of time. We select a few beers to feature and taste each week – all of which are available from our online shop.
This month, Executive Club Members can enjoy 10 per cent off their basket at BrewDog (and collect 8 Avios per every £1 spent). Simply sign up for an account at the BrewDog online, then apply code BACLUB10 at the checkout to redeem. Valid until 2 June 2020.