Quarantinis: Quenching the thirst

One of the hardest parts of the lockdown is finding something to look forward to. Most of our lives are made up of the anticipation of holidays, parties and weekends.

Nowadays it is hard to remember what day of the week it is. In a situation where it feels like time is sitting still and we are all just waiting patiently for our lives to restart, it turns out it really is the little things you miss. Like looking forward to a midweek meal out at your favourite restaurant, a sunny afternoon nursing a drink in a buzzing pub garden or a friend’s birthday party on a Friday night. I miss meeting new people or even just meeting people outside the people I live with. I miss sitting alone in a café reading and purposefully not talking to people because I don’t have to, not because I can’t. I miss going over to friends’ houses to have a slightly different view out of the window and cooking in a different kitchen. Although things I’m not going to say I miss is walking down Oxford street on a Saturday afternoon or travelling on a sweaty tube in rush hour.

Whilst at this stage there are no Facebook events to block in the diary or holidays to fantasise about lounging by the pool there is no reason we can’t produce our own celebrations. Here are some examples of things you can celebrate:

  1. Finishing the working week. Who doesn’t feel like Friday is a cause for celebration (If you can remember which day Friday is of course… ). If not you can just assume that half the week isn’t Friday and celebrate every other day.
  2. Your half birthday. Who says you only deserve one birthday a year, and if you are celebrating your birthday in lockdown it means you can have a huge party on your half birthday once we’re back in the real world. Be like the Queen, give yourself two opportunities to celebrate.
  3. The bank holiday – Unfortunately lockdown managed to fall in the season of bank holidays. Some may look on this as a shame that you can’t really enjoy the long weekend and some may even insist on working, but really it is an excuse to use that extra day to your advantage and indulge a little bit.
  4. The midweek pub quiz. Your friends may not be able to tell that you are wearing proper clothes but you might thank yourself for a bit of makeup or at least clean hair if you looking directly at your own face for a few hours.
  5. Finding a recipe you are desperate to try out. The slow roasted brisket with thirty-six cloves of garlic deserves to be perfected and celebrated. Why not make it three courses and try out twice baked goats’ cheese soufflés and molten chocolate cakes.
  6. A new film being released on Netflix. Why not treat the new series or film released on Netflix as a premiere of its own. You can dress up, drink fancy drinks and of course sit down with some popcorn.
  7. And, of course, Sunday. It may just seem like any other day in the haze that is the lockdown, but I am reliving my childhood with a Sunday roast every week. A nice excuse to have a boozy long lunch, fall asleep whilst reading a good book/watching a film/ playing monopoly and still be ready for an early night before work the next morning.

Now you have so many things to celebrate, you need the appropriate equipment. The rules for upgrading your house from the bare necessities to Bella Notte are simple.

  1. Don’t drink everyday. A drink at the end of the day is tempting but giving a few nights off gives it the celebratory status a good cocktail or glass of wine deserves.
  2. Do things properly. Tempting as it is to drink your Sainsburys basics white out of a plastic cup you also used yesterday, it will feel so much better to be drinking your wine out of a wine glass. Having a cocktail that has been shaken over plenty of ice will replicate your favourite bartender’s drink and using the nearest cocktail shaped glass you have will make you feel like you are
  3. Don’t forget the garnish, it will take your drink from feeling like you are drinking alone in your house to drinking in the new hot exclusive bar in town. Limes and lemons help with most drinks.
  4. Don’t forget the nibbles. No fancy bar is complete without complimentary nibbles and you even get to pick out the ones you actually want to eat. Be it mini cheddars, monster munch and twiglets or even crisps flavoured with fish n chips, maple bacon or prosecco…
  5. Invest in the good stuff. Use any extra money you are saving on not going out to restaurants on spending a little bit more money on your wine or on fresh fruit for your cocktail ingredients. The only issue will be developing a taste for wine that will cost you £15 in the shops and £50 in a restaurant…
  6. Dress up. Easy as it is to remain in leggings and sweatpants all day or even your pyjamas, you will end up with a huge number of clothes in your wardrobe that won’t get worn.  Give these clothes a chance to see the light of day and sip your drink in heels or a suit.

When you’re all ready to go, here are some suggestions about what you might drink on a topical theme



A delicious blend of raspberry, vodka and lemon topped off with a sparkling shot.

25ml vodka

30ml raspberry liqueur

2 tbsp frozen raspberries

1 tsp lemon juice

A shot of sparkling wine

Black pepper and sugar

Garnish with a raspberry


  1. Place martini glasses in the freezer,
  2. Pour liqueur over frozen raspberries, leave for 5 mins and then blend to a puree.
  3. Combine vodka, lemon juice and raspberry puree and shake over ice.
  4. Line the rim of the glass with black pepper and sugar mix and garnish with a raspberry. Pour in mix from the cocktail shaker.
  5. Add a shot of sparkling wine on the side.

Hard immunity

Hard Immunity

The only cocktail that can protect you from coronavirus and put a smile on your face with an alcoholic kick. Using all the key ingredients to keep your immune system boosted. (disclaimer there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that this can protect you from coronavirus).

25ml gin

20ml King’s Ginger liqueur

20ml mint infused sugar syrup

¼ cucumber

2tbsp lime juice

Fresh mint to garnish


  1. Chop the cucumber and puree using a stick blender
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake over ice
  3. Serve over ice with a mint sprig of mint and piece of cucumber


And if after all those drinks you’d prefer to get a takeaway, just make sure you eat it and cutlery is advise

Welcome to the Lockdown: The Game of Survival

Welcome to the Lockdown: The Game of Survival. The game that no-one asked for and is more similar to the Sims than Resident Evil. Whilst the initial lack of supplies (most notably toilet roll) seemed to suggest we were entering The Apocalypse, it has since become clear that this is actually a Domestic Housewives version of Contagion. We have plentiful supplies, although not enough Ocado slots, our neighbours have irritatingly decided to start talking to us for the first time and we’ve all (perhaps somewhat inevitably) turned to alcohol as the best method of coping with the feeling of claustrophobia.
We’ve found that contrary to expectations our social lives have exploded, albeit virtually. Thanks to the likes of zoom, houseparty and skype, friends who we haven’t seen in months are keen to ‘go’ for a virtual drink. In fact, there are many unseen benefits of this lockdown. The possibility of FOMO is reduced to nothing and there are no travel restrictions to attending 3 different parties in one evening. Dating has become easier; a virtual dud date can be disposed of by the click of a mouse rather than an insincere excuse or mumbled promise of date number two. Although as all singles will empathise, it hasn’t made it easier to find a lasting connection, turns out a picture doesn’t tell a thousand words. But that’s another blog post on the perils of modern dating and the internet. And of course, you save an absolute fortune on meals out, expensive drinks and travel, not to mention clothes as most of us won’t be wearing much other than workout clothes/ pyjamas for the next few months.
Whist all that extra time you save on travelling during the week could be spent on exercise, all that time you save not socialising at the weekend can be spent can be focused on eating and drinking things you actually want, rather than where your friends are or what’s on the menu. Drinking at home no longer becomes frowned on, but a celebration you can look forward to. That evening meal that was a pain to cook when you got home from a long day is a welcome break and meals become less grab and go and more prep and slow. We may not need to move to wartime rationing, but we are finally more than aware what is in our cupboards and prepared to use it up. When a PRET lunch is no longer an option, you might finally use up those sardines you once brought ‘just in case’. Or who knows, you might discover what on earth that chutney you have in the back of your fridge tastes like. (spoiler alert: if it’s been there for more than 8 weeks, that would be – not very nice).
On a more serious note, this is a chance to train a generation of home cooks. Most people I know will cook the same meals day in day out unless they want to use a recipe. In which case they will go out, buy the exact ingredients and then throw the rest of that avocado leaf pack away. What we should be doing is reusing and reinventing dishes. With the current restrictions meaning we can’t venture out more than once a day, we are all trying to be more conservative about what we buy and we are more aware of what is in our fridges than ever.
Maybe with us all at home the amount of food waste the UK produces will reduce dramatically? The UK produces an estimated 14 million tonnes of food waste each year, according to the European Commission. Although how much we care about their opinion depends on the way the next stage of the Brexit talks go. Perhaps when we don’t have any alternative sources of food, we might be more likely to eat all the food in our fridge pre-sell-by-date rather than throwing it out post.
In the spirit of reuse and revitalise here are two recipes that use near to identical ingredients to inspire you to use what’s in your fridge.

Pesto chicken pasta (serves 2)

2 chicken breasts, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g spaghetti
Half a packet of fresh basil, roughly chopped
150g cream cheese
2 large tomatoes, chopped into squares
100g grated parmesan

1. In a saucepan, add a little oil and add your chopped garlic, sliced chicken breast and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5-6mins on a medium heat until cooked through, stirring throughout.
2. Add the cream cheese, basil and tomatoes. Stir, season and set to one side.
3. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water and drain, reserving c.75ml of the cooking water.
4. Return the sauce to the heat and add the spaghetti and reserved cooking water. Add the parmesan and mix together.
5. Serve

Baked Mediterranean chicken (serves 2) 

2 chicken breasts
6 garlic cloves, 2 finely chopped
Half a packet of fresh basil, finely chopped
100g cream cheese
4 large tomatoes, chopped into chunks
100g grated parmesan

1) Mix the cream cheese, parmesan, half the basil and the finely chopped garlic. Season and set aside. Cut a slit in the chicken breast and open it up into a pocket. Stuff each breast with the cream cheese mix. Press to close.
2) Preheat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Mix the chopped tomatoes with oil, remaining garlic cloves (whole) and season.
3) Place the chicken in an oven proof dish, drizzle with oil and pour over the tomato mix. Roast for 20mins until the chicken is browned around the edges.
4) Serve with salad and crusty bread or roast potatoes.