Food & Wine

Quarantine cocktails: Recipes for spirits to lift the spirit

Photos Courtesy of Nancy Pannikkat
Nancy Pannikkat has been treating the Mountain View/Los Altos online community to news-themed cocktail recipes as the shelter-in-place prolongs and political figures give her more and more material to work with.

Creating community and finding ways to connect with her neighbors were already on Mountain View resident Nancy Pannikkat’s mind before the shelter-in-place orders took effect nearly two months ago. Then, the forced distancing spurred her to action.

Pannikkat took to Nextdoor, the neighborhood-based social networking site, and began sharing pandemic-themed cocktail recipes, dubbed “quarantinis.” Since she started, Pannikkat has posted more than two dozen cocktails and received numerous replies from local residents.

“I wanted a way to reach out to my neighbors,” Pannikkat said. “I wanted to bring joy, laughter.”

She was inspired by a sermon series on the “art of neighboring” at Palo Alto Vineyard Church, which she has attended for 18 years. When school closures were announced March 13, Pannikkat thought back to the sermon series and decided that now was the time to connect with her neighbors, albeit virtually.

After seeing memes online about quarantinis – just like a regular martini, but you drink alone – she decided to put her own spin on the idea. That Sunday, she posted a pear-based cocktail on Nextdoor, aiming to use a big bag of pears she bought at Costco. The post generated positive reactions and comments, encouraging her to keep going.

“(It) gives me a little something to look forward to,” Pannikkat said. It’s almost like a challenge of the day, so it helps my day be less monotonous.”

Often, the idea for a cocktail will come from the news of the moment.

After Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that schools would likely close for the remainder of the school year, Pannikkat made a lemon drop, a riff on using lemons to make lemonade.

After President Donald Trump suggested that ingesting household disinfectants could treat the coronavirus (an idea roundly rebuked by health experts), she made a martini with cucumber and lime, dubbed a “Sani-tini.” In the description she wrote, “Don’t drink Lysol. … Drink this instead!!”

For St. Patrick’s Day, she made a green cocktail using Midori that she said was in honor of all of the bar and restaurant owners missing out on business and the workers who have lost income.

Although some ideas come from other people, or are established cocktails, like the lemon drop, many of the recipes are her own concoctions.

“It’s like an artistic expression,” Pannikkat said. “I get inspired by something and that changes from day-to-day.”

Although Pannikkat said she doesn’t drink much herself, her husband is a fan of mixed drinks and the two used to go on dates up to San Francisco, trying different specialty cocktails. Often, they would visit places featured on “Check, Please! Bay Area,” a long-running show on KQED.

With the pandemic keeping them indoors, along with their two children and three cats, Pannikkat said coming up with the cocktails has been a fun way to be creative, experiment and make the best of a tough situation.

“If you can try to bring something good out of an experience and … give something good to other people, it really does help you to hold on – it gives you hope,” Pannikkat said.

Read on below for a selection of cocktail inspiration, and peruse Town Crier wine columnist Christine Moore's recommendation to "Shelter in Haus."

05 13 20 FOOD quarantini fmtCorona Colada-tini

• 2 ounces Svedka Coconut Mango Vodka

• 1 ounce vodka

• 1/4 cup coconut cream

• 1/4 cup pineapple juice

Shake vigorously with ice.

Blue on Both Sides-tini

• 2 ounces Blue Curacao

• 2 ounces vodka

• 1 ounce Limoncello

• Splash of tonic water

05 13 20 FOOD Quarantinis 2 fmtNo Pants Quarantini

• 2 ounces vodka

• 1 ounce Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky

• 1 ounce Grand Marnier

• 1/4 cup wild blueberries with juices

• Tonic water to top off

Serve over ice.


Don’t Make Me Blush-tini

• 3 ounces blush rosé wine

• 2 ounces Svedka Strawberry Lemonade Vodka

• 1 ounce Limoncello

• 1 fresh strawberry

05 13 20 FOOD Quarantinis 0374 fmtFrangelico-Hell-If-I-Know-tini

• 2 ounces Frangelico

• 3 ounces vodka

• Splash of Cointreau

• Drop of vanilla extract

• Juice of half a blood orange

Blue (cuz you ain’t in) Hawaii

• 2 ounces Blue Curacao

• 2 ounces vodka

• 1 ounce Midori

• 1 ounce Limoncello

• Splash of tonic water

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