With frightening efficiency, COVID-19 eliminated barstool chats, Friday night concerts, summer beer festivals and weekend dinner parties. In its place we got Zoom happy hours, wine tastings on Instagram and locally distilled hand sanitizer.
It was not much of a trade.
Early in the pandemic spring of 2020, Wisconsinites stocked up on familiar national brands (Miller, Coors) and beloved locals like Spotted Cow. Restaurants, forced to focus on to-go food, sold cocktail kits and unopened wine stock to recoup a fraction of their losses. Wine shops introduced “quarantine packs” while some taverns and bars — documented hotspots for COVID transmission — closed for the winter.
Many of the pandemic’s effects on drinking culture could linger. The debt restaurants and bars are taking on means the dining landscape will inevitably look different when summer comes. Likewise, habits we picked up over a year of doing puzzles in our pajamas with a cold 12-pack could stick around, too. Here, then, are some perspectives on how we drink now, from the industry and folks at home.
See below for our three-story cover package: