We’ve heard from a lot of baby boomers since this pandemic started about the unique ways they’re reinventing themselves in a world turned upside-down. Jane Dill’s story is as unique as any. Writing from her home in San Miguel de Allende, a couple of hours north of Mexico City, Jane found a win-win.
It all began when my husband Roger and I were having a cocktail on the roof deck of our new rental in early April, and were talking about how the “Happy Hour” was making a comeback all over the world during the pandemic. We had watched people in Italy toasting neighbors across the street from their balconies, seen Stanley Tucci’s sexy YouTube video about making a Negroni, and endless Zoom happy hours.
It seemed to be a fun way for us to mark each day, to delineate between daytime and nighttime, and it inspired us to make “Quarantine Cocktails” every night and post them on Facebook. I gained quite an unexpected following from all over the world of friends, family, students, artists, neighbors, and calligraphers (which I’ll explain in a moment), joining us to raise a glass together while collectively in quarantine. I really have no idea how many were checking in every night, but before we got to Cocktail #50, many were asking, “When is the book coming out?” I figured that since I’m a graphic artist and calligrapher myself, and already had all the photos, recipes, and commentary, I would design a book for everyone to enjoy.
It was a very hot time of year in San Miguel de Allende, where we now live, so most of the cocktails and mocktails (by definition, alcohol-free) we created are blended with ice. We began on April 7th and ended on May 26th, a snapshot in time, taking us through a cancelled Easter, through my birthday, through Cinco de Mayo, and through the death of a dear friend.
I was engrossed every day, trolling the internet for ideas, photos, and recipes, and got into some interesting cocktail history. Since we were in lockdown, this was truly “Quarantine Mixology,” using whatever ingredients we could find. Since we didn’t have any fancy glassware, I photographed most of the cocktails in two hand blown Mexican margarita glasses (with an iPhone 6SE, already almost a dinosaur). I also used flowers and herbs from the garden to decorate, as there were no shops open where I could buy little drink-bound umbrellas.
My philosophy of Quarantine Cocktails is to improvise, recreate, and have fun experimenting with different liquors, spices, fruits, and colors, and in case your own shelves are stripped bare, you’re allowed to borrow booze from your friends! For any non-drinkers, there are nine mocktails (non-alcoholic) and easily 25 of the cocktails could be made as mocktails simply by leaving out the alcohol.
Early on in the pandemic, I had decided that in some small way I wanted to give back. Our wonderful town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, had been completely shut down and it was especially affecting the Mexicans here very badly. Neighborhoods were starting food banks and NGOs were working overtime to feed people hit the hardest. I had some copies of the book printed in Mexico and chose my favorite charity, Feed the Hungry-San Miguel, to be the recipient of half of my profits from the first hundred of those books.