It does appear as of this writing that Louisiana and New Orleans have gone about dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in as good a fashion as can be done. That may be damning with faint praise as we still have some levels of infections, citizens on ventilators and, horribly, death.
But our trend-lines are heading away from the skies and many of our hospitality businesses are open. We have been given permission to once again venture forth, with social and personal restrictions, and in the main, we have acted responsibly, with concern for our fellow citizens. Quite a testament to a place that truly knows how to throw a kick-ass party and celebrate life on every street corner.
One of our better traits is still in full force and that is our ability to blend every moment with an adult beverage. New Orleanians never let an opportunity pass without friends close and spirits closer.
The stay-at-home directives from elected officials did nothing to dampen our desires for fermented or distilled beverages and what has resulted from almost two months of lock-down at the house is an enviable record of consumption. Those levels of use caught just about everyone by surprise, but for different reasons in each case.
Domestic winemakers and distillers are reporting that March was a record month for sales and April is likely to top March. Seems that as the initial news of COVID-19 was arriving around March 1, there was a collective “Now what?” moment among the manufacturers of beers, wines, and spirits.
Their concern was justified but maybe a little premature. Their viewpoint was tied to the next group in the distribution chain, retailers and restaurants. Restaurants and bars were ordered closed by civic authorities. Logically the suppliers of products were concerned and wondering how the heck they were going to get their wares into consumers’ hands, er, mouths.
Turns out, no big whoop. Consumers turned to the internet. Needed products of all types, including alcohol, were literally flying out the door of the manufacturer, into delivery vehicles and arriving at front doors all over America. Where there’s a will, etc.
The orders have been so overwhelming for distillers, winemakers and beer folks that one of the challenges for this group has been how do we change the mechanics of getting our product to the market; how do we find more staff and how do we separate work areas within our facility to conform to social distancing requirements? Rather good problems to have during a pandemic.
You have been good consumers, gulping down everything across the board, especially those items whose price-point is considered reasonable, a term we each define in our own way.
Let’s address your new-found love of receiving products from a daily delivery service. With more commercial businesses opening, product access is returning to the normal way we traditionally have done business. My advice to you: keep it local. Enjoy what you want to enjoy, when you wish, and now pretty much where, but keep your purchases local.
We do not want local businesses to close and, besides, they have much product knowledge to offer us, not to mention a dazzling array of products.
Here are several local merchants who can serve you very well, and who are quite close to you.
· Swirl – wine-centric, especially Italian selections, and grand depth of knowledge and stock about pairing wines with cheeses and pate. 3143 Ponce de Leon, Faubourg St. John, 504-304-0635
· Martin Wine Cellar – New Orleans’ world-class shop offering a broad depth of product with a fine deli. 3827 Baronne St., Uptown, 504-899-7411
· Vieux Carre Wine and Spirits – like most French Quarter shops you just never know when that one of a kind item suddenly appears. Ask if you can visit the “Back Room,” guaranteed to blow your mind and maybe your wallet 422 Chartres St., French Quarter, 504-568-9463
· Grande Krewe Fine Wine and Spirits – one of the new breeds of wine and spirit shops that strive for quality and can also provide in-depth product knowledge at a reasonable price. 2305 Decatur St., Marigny, 504-309-8309
· Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits – one of the best and most eclectic wine shops in America. New Orleans through and through. Also offers fine culinary plates and often, fabulous music. 600 Poland Ave., Bywater, 504-948-9111
· Aquistapace’s Covington Super Market – Is it a grocery store with an extensive wine selection, or a well-stocked wine shop with grocery food items? Either way, an incredible array of whatever you are seeking now. 125 E. 21st St., Covington, Northshore, 985-893-0593
While you are shopping local, why not finish the good action with purchasing local products? Brown spirits, clear spirits, beers, some wines, even bitters and more all are being very well-made right here in our town and area. Just a few extra moments of label
reading on your part will put you into a quality product that was put together close to your home.
Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Thursdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails every month in New Orleans Magazine.