While restaurants and bars are closed or operating in a limited capacity, many bartenders are spending more time at home and their approaches to life in quarantine have varied widely. Some are keeping it simple and sticking to classic cocktails that only require a few ingredients while others are taking this opportunity to flex their creative muscles and play around with unexpected ingredients. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for what to drink during your next Zoom happy hour or simply curious about what the pros are shaking up during these difficult times, I’ve rounded up insights from bartenders across the US.

Kat Hawkins, beverage manager and sommelier of Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago, Illinois

Drink of choice: Low-ABV cocktails

“Even though we are still working together as a management team and providing carryout for our guests, I am spending much more time at home,” Kat said. “As with our chef counterparts cooking, bartenders and sommeliers are coming up with creative ways to use their home stash. Personally, I have been trying to take it easy at home by making low-ABV cocktails, such as spritzes and sherry or amaro-based cocktails. Vermouth is another low-ABV star as well, since after opening the bottle it has a limited shelf life in the refrigerator. 

“Anything fresh such as herbs or fruits I have been using up as well and if something is on the verge of going bad, I try to make it into a syrup, cordial or some sort of preserve for later. The good folks at Trash Tiki have been an incredible resource for making the most of what you have. I feel like I am being extra cautious with waste and using up things like peels and stems and making the extra effort since I have the time. Anything that is bright and fruity has been appealing and I think it has a lot to do with the seemingly never-ending winter here in Chicago.” 

Some low-ABV cocktails Kat’s been enjoying include Saler’s gentian liqueur on the rocks with an orange wedge or muddled mandarin orange pieces; fino sherry with muddled berries and a lemon wedge, topped with ice and sparkling wine; and Amaro Montenegro on the rocks with an orange peel and a splash of soda.