How to enjoy summer when you can't go to the pub

If you woke up this morning with a bleak outlook on summer 2020, you’re not the only one.

Following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement last night (10 May) that pubs will remain shut until at least 4 July, many people quickly saw their usual British pub garden summer disappear before their eyes.

How will we socialise, now that our most social of spaces are shut?

How will we find our summer fling? How will we get a decent pint?

There are more questions than answers right now, but fret not, because we have the answer to at least one of them: how to enjoy your summer when you can’t go to the pub.

Let’s review our options.

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Have a picnic

To start with the most obvious: we are now allowed to sunbathe or picnic in the park with loved ones (but only from the same household) from Wednesday 13 May onwards.

We have a feeling the long-distance picnic is going to become the pub of 2020, especially if the weekend was any indication as Brits flocked to green spaces to enjoy a cheeky drink and get some rays.

Just please don’t touch strangers when you start to feel frisky in the sun – though you can definitely flirt from afar.

Have a boozy tasting at home

Want to refine your palate or step out of lockdown as a wine/beer/cocktail connoisseur?

You can now order tasting kits to enjoy at home, from companies such as Beer Wulf – which offers a 12-item case for £29.99 or get the slightly cheaper Borough Box at £21.99, which includes eight pints including a sour, pale ale, lager and more.

You can also build your own beer bundle from Brewdog.

Or learn how to make the summer drink of 2019 – Aperol Spritz – at home, using the recipe the brand has shared online.

Have a virtual pub quiz or bingo night

If you haven’t already done dozens of these, it’s time to give it a go.

There are endless options to choose from, including The Queen’s Head quiz with a difference, hosted by drag queen Ginger Johnson every Thursday at 7pm, which is live-streamed on Sink The Pink’s Instagram account.

Or for a more traditional quiz night, The Pembury Tavern in Hackney has their quiz every Monday, also at 7pm and you can win tickets for a tour of Five Points Brewery (to be redeemed whenever lockdown ends).

These are just a few examples; the virtual world is your pub-quiz-themed oyster.

Build a pub in your garden

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to build your own pub at home, look no further.

Steve Payne, a 52-year-old from Dagenham, Essex, took matters into his own hands and made himself a DIY ‘man cave’ which fits up to 50 people, has 15 types of scotch whisky, 15 types of vodka and 15 brands of gin, along with a working beer pump.

But, it took him 12 weeks to build and if you start now, it’s likely pubs will be open by the time you finish. But a mini version is definitely doable

Or perhaps a Tiki bar in the back garden, along with umbrella-adorned cocktails, in lieu of that trip abroad that you won’t get to take this summer.

Bring the pub to your house

Not all of us have the capacity, money or space to build our own pub, so here’s the alternative: bring it to your house.

Some brewers are now delivering stock right to your door, such as Forest Road Brewing Co., which lets you WhatsApp it’s ‘beer unit’ to drop off a batch of beer.

If you prefer cocktails, you can order a box of pre-made drinks from brands like NIO – they arrive flat-packed in a cardboard box, like your very own alcoholic IKEA delivery – or get bottled tipples like Negroni and Old Fashioned from Map Lab.

Once you’ve settled on the booze, order the food – stick with classic British fish & chips or for something more decadent, contact The Cheese Bar for a DIY fondue set.

Follow up with a greasy kebab in the morning for the full experience, of course.

Play a drinking game with your mates

Staring at your friends for hours on end while you sip on a G&T and discuss what’s going on in your lives (absolutely nothing) can get a little exhausting and/or boring, because in reality that’s not what we do in the pub.

We go for the atmosphere, we chat to strangers, we sit and enjoy it all in silence.

It’s time to introduce drinking games, such as Would You Rather, Never Have I Ever or Truth Or Dare – all of which are designed for you to learn more about your mates.

You can also use apps like Heads Up, Pictionary or play Drunk Pirate online.

But please, drink responsibly.

Have a house party (with your roommates)

This goes without saying, but you shouldn’t invite a bunch of people to your house for a big bash.

But if you’re lucky enough to be self-isolating with other people and/or have a garden, it’s time to plan the best party of your lives.

Don’t just raid the alcohol aisle at the supermarket and set up a few lawn chairs. Choose a theme, order props online, dress up in your nicest (or craziest) clothes.

Blend fancy cocktails, put together a playlist (or search ‘British pub’ in Spotify, if you’re feeling lazy) and dance off the stress and anxiety of lockdown.

If you live alone, do the same thing – but on the Houseparty app or on Zoom, and have a rave.

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