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Bring the bar to you: how to have a virtual night out

Counting down the days until that chilly pub garden come April? God, us too. Here's the next best thing: bar-quality cocktails, perfect ambience, and a whole lot of glam.

We’ve got the roadmap, we know where we’re going, but that April night out still feels a long way off. Until we can get our five besties in that beer garden/roof terrace/mate’s patio on 12 April, it’s very much still a case of bubbly in bubbles. But never fear, we inventive souls at Muddy have boiled down the essence of a great night out. You might not be shivering in your local with an over-priced cocktail shouting over the dodgy soundtrack, but here’s the next best thing until that hallowed day comes.

THE VIBE

Absolutely key. Drinking at home just doesn’t have the je ne sais quoi of being out out. Dog whining, neighbour’s car alarm, toilet flushing…it’s hardly the tinkling ivories and clinking glasses of a piano bar.

Cover up the soundtrack of everyday with the nostalgia of the bar ambience thanks to the fabulous I Miss My Bar. The website has the complete audio backdrop of a nightout which you can select and fade in or out to your heart’s (or bar’s) content – a touch of ‘people talking’, a soupcon of ‘rain on window’, a hint of ‘full room’ (remember those?). We’re a big fan of the ‘bartender working’ sounds — clinking glasses, ice cubes… close your eyes, and you’re there.

THE DRINK

Now for the good stuff – with the ambience very much in place we need to up the stakes. Hide the winebox for tonight, we’re bringing out the big guns with Cocktail Hour. You can play make like Coyote Ugly and shake your own, or order in.

We have three party cocktail ideas here – a vodka, rum and gin offering, or a fresh idea for spring – Sbagliato. Developed by Della Vite Prosecco, the brand owned by Cara Delevingne and her equally gorgeous sisters, it’s an aperitif cocktail with a delicate bitterness and herby, citrus flavour, and taste great with olives, oysters, nuts (or, you know, Doritos – just saying). Here’s how to make it.

Ingredients:

  • Della Vite Prosecco Treviso DOC – 50ml
  • Cynar Artichoke Amaro – 25ml
  • Sweet Vermouth – 25ml

Method:

Add all ingredients to a rocks glass with ice. Stir briefly and then garnish with an orange wedge. Sip slowly, and feel smug. Warning: do not make like Tom Cruise and shake this one – you’ll be licking it off the worktops for weeks.

Don’t want to make your own? Don’t sweat it: let that nail polish dry (must be in the back of the bathroom cabinet somewhere?) and have someone else do the work. Bucks-based Clayton’s Cocktails delivers ready-made bar-quality cocktails nationwide. There are four options, each one crafted with love and complete with its own playlist. So you can top off your chinking glasses and low hubbub with a sophisticated soundtrack that matches the vibe of your booze. A little birdy told us that the Marlow Negroni is the house favourite, but we also love an Espresso Martini.

Your other option is the equally slick Crockers At Home, the lockdown offshoot of the brilliant Crockers Henley restaurant with rooms – a godsmacking array of cocktails in beautiful packaging. My money’s on the Amaretto Sour, but I won’t turn my nose up at the Manhattan, Maverick Martini or Mai Tai either.

THE LIGHTING

Very much linked to The Vibe, but so often overlooked. When you’re bringing the bar to your front room, the unflattering glare of wall lights or a ceiling pendant doesn’t cut it. At the bare minimum, we want low (ergo, airbrush-effect) light: if you don’t have a dimmer switch, turn the main one off and stick to a few golden lamps in the corners. Fairy lights go a long way here and are gorgeously atmospheric outside.

If you’re planning a big one, why not try one of the disco light apps: we like the Strobe Light: Disco Lights App. The free app lets you create a light show to match your music, and will sync up with friends for a strobe effect across multiple devices. You can choose colour and pattern, and hit the dancefloor/living room rug. Hey, no-one leaves baby in the corner.

THE LOOK

Oh, you didn’t really think you’d get away with those old pyjamas, did you? The guilty pleasure of drinking in your jammies faded months ago: it’s time to dress up and show the house plants what’s what.

But that doesn’t mean discomfort — if you’re not quite ready for heels and bare legs – because, frankly, who knows what’s going on under that loungewear – we’ve picked the perfect combo from our very own Indie Store:

Glamorous top half: statement earrings and a silky camisole. Sexy bit of decolletage? Why bloody not. The strobe lights will glint off the earrings and onto our collarbones (er, in our dreams).

Comfortable bottom half: dark grey joggers and a proud pair of fluffy slippers. We’re all ready to slip-slide into the big night.

THE ENTERTAINMENT

Honey, Zoom quizzes are so April 2020. If you need a warm-up before slaying it on the carpet dancefloor, try a virtual escape room. There’s nothing quite so funny as trying to solve puzzles and find clues with your friends — whilst all getting steadily ‘merry’. The longer you take, the fuzzier your minds, the funnier the tasks.

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