By Lauren On March 24, 2020

How Distilleries and Drink Brands are Supplying and Inspiring Through a Pandemic

Line-inducing restaurants are now giving out their coveted meals for free. Distillers are focusing their efforts on creating sanitizer instead of booze. And now, one of the rarest whiskey collections is now available for purchase. COVID-19 has drastically changed the way food and beverage companies are approaching business—now, our favorite distillers, brewers, and bar/restaurant owners are completely rethinking the way they do work. 

Through all of the chaos over these last weeks, we have felt inspired by seeing how our local businesses have come together to take care of their employees, their customers, and their communities. It’s taken courage, grit, and creativity. Here are a few of the quirky, stand-out business and marketing ideas we’ve seen emerge amidst the COVID crisis from some of our favorite brands:

A special note: The current state of the world is wild and uncertain. This pandemic has taken a toll on people, communities, and organizations across the globe. As a business, there’s no wrong or right way to respond—you can only do what’s right for your unique circumstances in this tough time. No matter what your current situation is, you ARE doing enough. We compiled this list to inspire our community and show our support for the businesses, employees, and owners who are in this right along with us. We hope you enjoy it.

Delivering More Than Drink

Since customers can no longer enjoy the taproom, brands are now bringing the convenience and personal touch of the in-house experience directly to their customers’ kitchens—and they’re creating an impactful experience beyond delivery or curbside pick-up. Which businesses are leading the pack with their new delivery approaches? We’re big fans of The Bitter Housewife, who is making sure their fans are cozy long-term with a subscription service that will last longer than the pandemic. In addition, the lovely people behind One Stripe Chai Tea Co. are adding a thoughtful and personal touch to their deliveries with pleasant, handwritten thank you notes for their customers in every order. And, we’re definitely one click away from ordering Away Days Brewing Co’s new survival packs, their new and humorous way to stock you up on the isolation essentials: fresh beer, tins of sardines, and an emergency roll of toilet paper.

Bitter Housewife Personalized message from One Stripe Chai  Survival Pack from Away Days Co

Donating to Charitable Causes

Through this tough time, it’s been heartwarming to see how many businesses are not only working hard to support their own company, but are also searching for new opportunities to give back to relevant causes that impact their communities. San Diego hard kombucha brewers June Shine caught our eye this week when they paired each of their deliveries with a donation program, with $1 from every order going directly to the U.S. Bartenders Guild Emergency Assistance Program. Even further, Kentucky-based Rolling Fork Rum is making an impact in their community by funneling part of their sales toward the cause of their customer’s choosing: either the Restaurant Worker’s Community Fund or their local LEE Initiative. And now, the team behind Norden Aquavit is donating their entire profit from online orders to their hospitality friends and family who need it most.

June Shine Delivery  

Revamping Their Space and Services to Support

While we’ve read all about distilleries across the U.S. (including Portland’s-own New Deal) revitalizing their space to create sanitizer, well-known food and drink brands are now working to figure out new ways to repurpose their space for good during this time. Most notably, the Minnesota-nice team at Surly Brewing Co. has revamped their unused parking lot to hold vehicles to much-needed blood donations. In addition, we’ve been admiring the SF food spot PRAIRIE and they convert their busy restaurant into a their cleverly-titled (covid) 19th Ave General Store, where they not only offer packaged meals to take home,  but provide delivery services with a charitable twist—now customers can purchase a curated food package for neighborhood industry employees in need.


Creating Pre-mixed Cocktail Kits

Can’t stop in for expertly-crafted cocktails? No problem! Bars, restaurants, and distilleries are now developing one-of-a-kind ways to take their house libations to-go. A few spots that are doing it right include New York’s tiki haunt Franklin Alley Social Club, who are cleverly pre-mixing their top sellers in brandless bottles for fans to take home with food purchases. Lawless Distilling in Minneapolis has also opened an online store with all the pieces to build a favorite cocktail at home, including recipes and house-made ingredients from their bartenders. Following suit are Illinois distillers 28 Mile Vodka with pre-batched and bulk fancy cocktails, and Maryland’s women-owned distillery Tenth Ward, who are selling off their tasty draft cocktails to patrons for sipping on their walk home.


Partnering with Local Businesses to Support Each Other

Now is the time to come together and show support, and the food and beverage industry is paving the way in building and strengthening partnerships with the businesses in their community. For example, Heritage Distillery got in on the action by partnering with their area restaurants to deliver the perfect food and spirits pairings. Plus, in addition to delivering Whiskey to 28 states, Oregon’s Westward Whiskey is now shipping bartender-crafted cocktail kits to Portlanders, featuring the fixins from their favorite PDX purveyors including Portland Syrups and Portland Bitters Project.

Offering Virtual Learning Experiences

Since we can’t hang in person, we’re hanging online! Bartenders and experts are now taking their subject knowledge to the world-wide-web and sharing their unique expertise through video and digital courses. Faith from Jaz Spirits is our current internet crush, teaching all of us homebodies how to mix up the perfect seasonal beverages. Fraser Valley Distilling is in a close second in our hearts, with their special G&T tutorials from bartender Jenna. Plus, Sunday School Wine is taking all of their courses online—now beginning winos can tune-in digitally to meet new friends and build that wine confidence!

Upping their Social Media Game

In this quarantine time, people are stuck at home, bored,  and most likely cruising social media. Businesses are now thinking of different ways to stand out on social by giving their fans something to do to be a part of the brand experience. PDXers Freeland Spirits and West Coasters The Walter Collective are totally nailing this tactic by using their social sites as a way to make friends with their local home bartenders by sharing out their best boozy quarantine concoctions. Even further, the Vermonters at Shacksbury are helping their fans beat the boredom by giving away a custom cider puzzle to tide their brains over for the next few days of quarantine.



Lauren Gantner is a creative strategist for High-Proof Creative. She is an experienced digital marketer with a unique background in journalism and graphic design and a soft spot for Jell-o shots and dive bar Koozies.

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