Happy Hour at home? Des Moines restaurants and bars selling to-go cocktails
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 on April 3 in Johnston. Des Moines Register
Happy Hour at home doesn’t sound so horrible nowadays.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ latest coronavirus proclamation allows bars and restaurants to offer alcoholic beverages for carryout or delivery through April 7.
As such, some Des Moines-area restaurants have tapped their creative sides to take advantage of the opportunity, selling their most popular pre-mixed drinks as part of their carryout menus.
Which comes at a perfect time when many people are seeking something — anything — to help relax.
“I have not met very many people who have not increased their alcohol and food intake right now,” said Kate Willer, the general manager at Bubba in downtown Des Moines.
“I think we’re all in the same boat there.”
Before Reynolds’ alcohol announcement, Bubba created an “Old Fashioned Kit,” so customers could practice their at-home bartending skills. The kit includes a 6-ounce bottle of Jim Beam bourbon, an orange, house triple-berry basil simple syrup and instructions.
“That one has enough for four cocktails,” general manager Kate Willer said, though she added that when at home, “you can make it the way you like it.”
Armed with the ability to sell cocktails, Bubba also sells fully-crafted drinks in mason jars, which has two cocktails per jar. Just take it home, pour over ice and enjoy.
“Everybody’s enthusiasm for it has been really cool to see,” Willer said.
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Many other restaurants throughout the metro have done something similar.
Various Mexican eateries offer to-go margaritas for Taco Tuesday enthusiasts. El Barco Mexican Restaurant in Urbandale sells them by the quart, as well as pre-made michelada mixes where all you have to do is add your favorite beer.
University Library Cafe in the Drake neighborhood is selling cocktails, growlers of beer and all the ingredients necessary for Bloody Marys, Moscow Mules and mimosas to go with their abbreviated brunch menu.
Hello, Marjorie and Bellhop sold more than 200 cocktail kits online and offered many more on Saturday afternoon to walk-up customers. Like Bubba, their most popular selections are sold in mason jars that hold two servings.
“New York and other bigger markets have been doing it since the close-down, so we’ve been following their lead,” said Nick Tillinghast, co-owner at both spots. “We’re doing cocktails that we’d normally do in the bar.
“So all the guests have to do is go home, shake it up, pour it into a glass and it’s ready to go.”
Smash Park in West Des Moines is selling various cocktail kits — margaritas, mules, screwdrivers, mimosas and more — and also creating how-to videos and posting them on Facebook to guide rookie bartenders.
“When we were trying to figure that out, we thought, hey, let’s show them how to make these drinks at home,” said Ashley Buckowing, Smash Park’s marketing director.
Smash Park is also selling fishbowls — “We’re calling them social bowls,” Buckowing said — as well as cocktails that include White Claw, which they’re calling “ClawTails.”
Buckowing does, however, encourage everybody who drinks them to continue to follow the law.
“We’ve tried to keep it light-hearted and fun,” Buckowing continued. “People need that right now.”
A beer pong party pack is available — not for house parties, of course, but the game does only require 2-4 people. Smash Park also offers Love Is Blind Bingo so fans of the Netflix show can indulge while also continuing to practice social distancing.
“I hear it’s terrible,” Buckowing said of the show, “but nobody can stop watching it.”
Cody Goodwin normally covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register, but is helping with coverage of COVID-19. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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