Lockdown Liquor

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, bartenders have been pretty hard-hit by COVID-19 shutdowns. But a couple bits of good news emerged this week. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced it was loosening restrictions on alcohol sales and will allow restaurants to see beverages must be packaged in a container with a secure lid or cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap

For folks looking to enjoy a good cocktail at home, meet Lockdown Liquor, a project by Seth Marquez (Carte Blanche), Karen Cheng (Realm of the 52 Remedies), and Nic Sinutko (Campfire).

Encinitas restaurant Home and Away has opened its kitchen to Marquez and his team, who’ll be using it to make batches of cocktail syrups using fresh juices and herbs. All you need to do is add booze (you’ll need to provide your own). They’re starting with a six-syrup menu: Eastside, Gold Rush, Daiquiri/Gimlet, Collins, Mule, and Firing Squad. A quart of syrup, which makes at least 18 cocktails, is $30.

Marquez said the initial plan was to deliver only to North County—Encinitas to Oceanside—but three of their first four orders came from North Park, so they decided to expand countywide. To place an order, message then via Instagram or email.

First-time orders come with a complimentary bag of cocktail-grade (read: fancy) ice. Marquez said they hope to also add bar tools as an add-on purchase. The package comes with instructions, a list of everything you’ll need to make the cocktail, and includes pro tips—like how to turn a Collins into a Fizz or a Gold Rush into a Bees Knees. You can go to Lockdown Liquor’s Instagram page, where they’ll be posting how-to videos.

Marquez, Cheng, and Sinutko, who are roommates, came up with the idea while sitting in their apartment filing out unemployment applications. They were lamenting the wasted syrups and juices sitting in closed down bars. That led to the idea of making syrups themselves.

Marquez said plans are to grow the menu and take custom orders. They’ll also be inviting managers from shuttered bars to use the kitchen to make and sell syrups, with proceeds benefiting their own staff.

Marquez says they’re taking all necessary precautions. They’re working in a licensed kitchen, standing six feet apart, wearing gloves, and keeping everything sanitized. Marquez said they consulted with law enforcement and were given the okay to make deliveries under California’s stay-at-home order.

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