Given our heightened need for social distancing as well as to quell the boredom and concern that accompanies a self-quarantine (which is almost sure to become a mandatory quarantine soon enough), it was only a matter of time before people went searching for answers at the bottom of a bottle. We give you the “Quarantini”:
The creativity here, though, is laudable. Never ones to be outdone — especially when it comes to alcohol — we (i.e., the MEL staff) took it upon ourselves to iterate on the Quarantini at levels that clearly reflect that no amount of Emergen-C can save us (which is definitely also true in relation to coronavirus). In any event, if you, too, are looking to pass the time and calm your brain with a little booze-y boost, give our COVID-19 craft cocktail menu a try. It will leave you equal parts drunk and overflowing with vitamin C that your body most certainly doesn’t need (and will piss out more quickly than the liquor itself).
Oh, and now you really have no fucking reason to go to the bar.
Raspberry-Lime Pandemic G&T
Cooper Fleishman, Director of News and Audience: Chefs, today I’ve prepared for you a raspberry-lime gin and tonic with fresh basil and a whole packet of Emergen-C. I wanted to say this was a cringe-y exercise in alcoholism and millennial dirtbaggery and that I will never, ever sink this low again, but what the hell, I threw enough fresh ingredients in there that I can safely call the drink good.
Let’s start with the straight-up raspberry Emergen-C with vitamin D. (The D, I hear, is good for preventing respiratory infections — anything like that going around?) By itself, the powder-and-water combo has a taste and mouthfeel my wife, Ellie, could only describe as “soft.” It demands fizziness, actual tartness and maybe some smokiness to balance it out.
Needless to say, actual citrus and real raspberry do the real work here. And so does the basil, which takes you, as Ellie says, to “summer in Italy, rather than sitting on the couch choking on tissues.” (We’ve had a very lively weekend of “social distancing.”) Serve it tall and cold, with plenty of tonic to dilute the concentrate. The Emergen-C actually smooths the whole thing out, but it does leave you with an unmistakable vitamin aftertaste, no matter how much straight gin you chase it with.
Here’s how I got there:
- Mix 1 packet Emergen-C with 2 ounces hot water
- Muddle with 4 raspberries, 2 basil leaves
- Add 1 shot of gin
- Shake with 2 ice cubes
- Strain mix into glass over more ice cubes
- Add 4 to 6 ounces tonic or, really, as much as you like. I just filled the rest of the glass.
- Optional: Add a splash of cranberry lemonade
- Top with a squeeze of lime and lemon (about 1 ounce of lime juice did the job), a few whole raspberries, a sprig of basil and a slice of lime for garnish. As you sip, smell the basil!
Also, you may want to add simple syrup. I think that would be overkill, but who am I to judge? I’m the one setting up glamour shots of a powdered-vitamin/booze mix because actual human interaction is off the table.
Brian VanHooker, Staff Writer: I’m more of a beer guy, so I decided to combine my Emergen-C with Blue Moon, a brew that’s traditionally paired with an orange slice. If you decide to try this, however, I recommend pouring the Emergen-C powder in a glass first, and then pour the beer in. I did it the other way around, pouring the powder into the beer, and the head became so unmanageable it overflowed, getting everywhere and making my mug all sticky. It also took a while to settle. In fact, I kept seeing little orange clumps in the foam, so I had to gently mix them in with a spoon without killing the carbonation in the beer.
Once it finally settled, though, I was surprised to learn that the beer wasn’t half bad. It was a bit more orange-y than a Blue Moon would be normally (duh), but as a guy who likes sours and other fruity beers, I didn’t mind it at all. It kinda tasted like a slightly shittier version of Shock Top — overly citrusy, but not overly unpleasant. And since I’d waited long enough, it was free of that clumpy texture and chalky residue that occurs with Emergen-C and water. (It was as though the beer was hearty enough to absorb the Vitamin C powder.) Obviously, this isn’t a drink I’d have normally, but if having one per day will trick me into thinking I’ll be spared from the coronapocalypse, I guess I can manage it.
Nick Leftley, Senior Editor: I detest the entire bullshit endeavor of Emergen-C, so frankly I was loathe to waste perfectly good alcohol on the stuff. But what the hell, since my kids aren’t going to give me any time to play Portal during my self-quarantine, I may as well entertain myself somehow. I went with mezcal as my booze of choice, for three reasons:
- I suspected, like Coop, that it would be powerful and smoky enough to cancel out the Emergen-C.
- My dearly missed late father-in-law was the first person to start importing mescal to the States from Mexico, and this is the kind of tribute he would have found funny.
- I have a honking great bottle of the stuff in the cupboard from an in-law’s friend who owns a mezcal distillery, so I figured I could spare two ounces.
I decided to pair it with tangerine Emergen-C (I had orange, but I was feeling fancy), along with some orange bitters, lime juice, and because this is essentially a cold remedy, some honey in place of simple syrup.
This is what went into it, for anyone weird and desperate enough to somehow want to recreate it:
- 2 ounces of really good mezcal (I wish I could tell you what the brand’s called because it’s delicious, but it literally just has my name on the label. It makes me feel very, very special.)
- Two dashes orange bitters
- Juice of half a lime
- One packet of tangerine Emergen-C, dissolved in a glass of water
- One teaspoon of honey (or in my case, my toddler’s favorite oatmeal spoon of honey, because on Day Two of self-quarantine we are already out of clean cutlery)
I’d love to tell you I shook all this over ice, but I completely forgot that part, so it went into my nicely salted margarita glass at room temperature, which, yes, was a mistake.
In the end, all things considered, it tasted… fine? I won’t for a second claim it was good, but it certainly wasn’t as bad as I expected. Between the sea salt on the rim of the glass and the mezcal kicking every other flavor’s arse, the Emergen-C didn’t really get a look in, apart from a mildly unpleasant, Pedialyte-ish aftertaste. Honestly, if I’d remembered to chill it, it might even have been somewhat pleasant.
But probably not.
Joseph Longo, Staff Writer: As a young person in the pandemic, I’m the problem. Us Gen Zers are one of the age-groups most likely to be asymptomatic to Coronavirus and still pass on the plague. We also can’t seem to stay out of the fucking bar for a single Saturday night. And no, of course I haven’t stocked up on groceries or de-sanitized my (very tiny) apartment.
But what I do have in abundance is White Claws and Emergen-C packets. This is my trusted one-two punch for quickly getting drunk and recovering from a hangover — at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself since college. In other words, mixing the two together is a trusted hair of the dog.
There are a variety of White Claw and Emergen-C flavors. The combinations are endless and a good way to spend your time in quarantine. (If you get really bored, try making a DIY spiked seltzer.) Most pairings, however, taste like shit. The trick is to mix your acidic flavors correctly. Double-down on fruit families like Raspberry White Claw and Blueberry-Acai Emergen-C. And for a super safe bet, try my trusted citrus combo: White Claw Natural Lime and Emergen-C Super Orange.
Now you might be wondering, Joe, how dare you be so young and so dumb! Emergen-C doesn’t do anything and White Claw has no taste! You, sir, are not wrong. The Emergen-C(law) won’t actually make you feel any better. But it reminds me of an adult Sunny-D, and all I want right now is to be a kid again. I may be a dumb young bitch, but I know how to make an adequate drink on a budget.
Speaking of which, allow me to leave you with the recipe:
- Fill a highball glass with 3 ice cubes
- Pour in 1/2 can of White Claw Natural Lime
- Pour in 1/2 packet of Super Orange Emergen-C
- Stir for 30 seconds until the color turns a concerning shade of piss
Lauren Vinopal, Staff Writer: Tasked with coming up with an Emergen-C inspired cocktail, I was mostly worried about tracking down a packet of the powder at the drugstore. In Bushwick, it would’ve been easier to buy cocaine cut with vitamin C. Luckily, when I asked my bartender roommate if she thought a bodega might still have it, she emerged from her room with two packets — as well as a bottle of Campari and gin — almost making up for the fact that she’ll inevitably be a COVID-19 carrier.
Drinking an old man’s drink felt a little on-the-nose during a pandemic that disproportionately targets old men, but still, negronis seemed like the obvious choice. We didn’t have vermouth, but there was Super Orange Emergen-C, which my roommate turned into a delicious self-isolation-inspired simple syrup (with the help of fresh ginger, one actual orange, sugar and water) that could be used for a number of coronavirus cocktails (e.g., an Old Fashioned). Sure, the heat probably cooks out all of the vitamins in Emergen-C, but the stuff is probably snake oil anyways. So you may as well make a decent cocktail with it.
“This feels like Chopped but with cocktails and for the apocalypse,” she joked. The drinks were prepared and poured just in time for our third self-quarantined roommate to get home after a two-week trip to Spain. She wore a mask, took her Coronegroni and went immediately to her room. All three of us agreed via group text that it was delicious — just like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have wanted.
This is what she used for the Coronegroni:
- 1 ounce gin (or about a shot)
- 1 ounce Campari (or about a shot)
- Fresh ginger
- One orange
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 packet of Super Orange Emergen-C
And this is what she suggest you do with all of those ingredients:
- Bring the fresh ginger, orange peel (from the orange), water, sugar and Super Orange Emergen-C (or whatever flavor you have) to a boil, and then down to low. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or until the sugar fully dissolves. Next, let it cool.
- Wash your hands.
- Combine the Campari, gin, and a dash of the simple, self-isolation syrup in a shaker with ice, and shake.
- Wash your fucking hands again.
- Fill a glass with ice, pour the shaker into it and garnish with an orange peel.
- Call your grandparents.
Magdalene Taylor, Editorial Assistant: I tried to go the route of a traditional martini, but in order to be consumable, it needed a few extra details. As such, beyond the Emergen-C, of course (I, too, went with the Super Orange flavor), the final product consisted of:
- Ice (because fuck you if you think a drink shouldn’t have ice)
- Two ounces of my favorite plastic-bottle vodka (Vodka of the Gods)
- A splash of seltzer
- A heavy dash of lime juice
All things considered, it was way fancier than any drink I’d normally mix at home. And better yet, to my surprise, it was very drinkable. Say you took a gamble and ordered an orange-y martini at a restaurant. If this came out, you wouldn’t be thrilled, but you wouldn’t feel entirely like you wasted $12 either. In fact, I made a second round with the remaining packet. Notably, however, I did have to take a 7 p.m. nap afterward. But I’d do it again!
Quinn Myers, Staff Writer: I won’t purport to live in the apparent luxury of my coworkers. Fresh raspberries and basil? A honkin’ piece of actual ginger? These things rarely exist in my apartment, let alone during self-quarantine. I do, however, have Angostura bitters, Maker’s Mark and an off-brand packet of Emergen-C that, at some point, took on moisture and dried into a stiff coagulate. The rest will fall into place for an Old Fashioned, right?
In any case, here’s how to make an Old Fashioned with limited, borderline-depressing ingredients — and obviously, a dietary supplement aimed at preventing a cold and/or the flu. First, you’ll need the following (or some reasonable facsimile thereof):
- 1 week-old lemon (replacing an orange zest and peel)
- 4 Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered blueberries (replacing optional maraschino cherry)
- 1 packet orange-flavored vitamin-C mix du jour (replacing orange rind and sugar cube)
- 1 big ol’ ice cube
- 2.5 ounces of Maker’s Mark
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Once you’ve gathered all of them, take your orange-flavored vitamin pack and put it into a nice rocks glass. (Yes, you’re on hour 72 of making zero physical contact with another human being, but that doesn’t mean you can’t class things up a bit!) Remember that the vitamin pack has plenty of sugar in it, so skip the sugar cube, you lush!
Shake your two dashes of bitters into the sandy mix below. Take a deep breath; this might just work. Now add your bourbon and try your best to dissolve the vitamin mix.
If it’s starting to look like vomit, good. You’re on the right track. Now zest your lemon peel, drop in the blueberries, add a giant ice cube and give it a little swirl.
So yeah, it tastes like stomach bile. The bubbles are weird, the knock-off Emergen-C doesn’t really dissolve and I just don’t know what I was thinking with the chocolate-covered blueberries. It’s so bad that, despite half the ingredients belonging in last week’s garbage, I still can’t help but think that this was a waste of everything involved.
Next time, for a better means to the same end, I’m just gonna take a shot of bourbon and chug the vitamin mix separately.