Virtual Happy Hours Are My New Favorite Way to Be Alone, Together

Why this after-work ritual has become more important than ever.

March 19, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.

An after-work cocktail and some good conversation is one of my favorite ways to decompress after a long day. Whether I'm grabbing a spritz with a co-worker at our go-to spot by the office or meeting up with a friend at the latest and greatest natural wine bar, that hour or two is an essential part of my week. It offers a moment to unwind, catch up, laugh, cry (just kidding, maybe), and take a break from the outside world.

But given the uncertain and unsettling state of affairs right now, social distancing is essential. Which means I'm hunkering down at home until further notice, relying on my pantry for meals, supporting local restaurants with takeout and delivery whenever I can, and diving into a lot of new books.

While going out isn't an option, taking some time for yourself to connect with loved ones (wherever they may be) doesn't have to disappear. I've been following in the footsteps of many around the Internet and scheduling virtual happy hours with my friends, family, and of course, my teammates here at Food52.

It started last week when my friend's mom suggested we all meet up over FaceTime that evening. She was cooking up one of my all-time favorite recipes (braised onion pasta) with her husband and a few other family members in New Jersey. My friend had mixed up a Negroni for the occasion in California, and I was in sweatpants (as usual) in New York City with a beer that had probably been sitting in my fridge for too long.

Naturally, a lot of the conversation centered around the novel coronavirus: understocked grocery stores, restaurant and bar closings, working from home. Not knowing what will happen next is scary, but it was comforting to me to have a little face time with the people I care about.

So I've been making plans to have virtual happy hours throughout the next few weeks. Last night, I hung out with a few of my N.Y.C. pals; tomorrow night, the Food52 editorial team will be gathering over Google Hangouts. In my opinion, it's one of the best ways to be alone, together. And together is something we could all use a little more of right now.

There are many online platforms you can use to join a virtual happy hour, but here are a few:

  • FaceTime
  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
  • WhatsApp
  • Skype

I should also note that having a happy hour isn't the only thing you can do virtually. You might want to cook the same recipe together, share a meal, set up a watch party on Netflix, or have a quick coffee date in the morning before getting the day started. Also, I just got a text invite to virtual charades for this weekend (RSVP: yes).

In case you're thinking of planning a virtual hangout of your own, I've compiled some simple drink recipes and snack ideas below.

For Sipping

For Snacking

Have you had a virtual happy hour with your friends or family? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Joanna Sciarrino
    Joanna Sciarrino
Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.


Eric K. March 19, 2020
Stocked up on pet nat. “See” you Friday!
Joanna S. March 19, 2020
can't wait to show you guys my cool collection of bitters