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Booze rules: all bets are off in lockdown

There some questions one simply shouldn't ask while permanently housebound, like: 'Is it too early to open a bottle of red?'

12 April 2020 - 00:02 By and paige nick
You're sure to find a motley grand cru of bottles as you work your way towards the back of your drinks cupboard during lockdown.
You're sure to find a motley grand cru of bottles as you work your way towards the back of your drinks cupboard during lockdown.
Image: 123RF/Josep Curto

I've been steadily working my way through my liquor cabinet since the beginning of the apocalypse. Okay, maybe not so steadily. Also, it's less of a liquor cabinet and more the bottom shelf of my kitchen cupboard where I've managed to amass a motley grand cru of bottles over the past decade of dinner parties.

I didn't even realise I had half this stuff, but once we hit day four of lockdown and had cleared out the front row of the regular poison, I discovered the situation went a few rows deep.

I'm not sure where most of it came from but in a time of lockdown one learns there are some questions we shouldn't ask. Like, is it too early to open a little red? Or, hey, where did that bottle of Captain Morgan come from? Or, if I run out of toothpaste, can I use this white tequila that's been here for three years? If it can strip paint off a wall, surely it will deal with my plaque efficiently? Wait, does tequila expire? And if it does, surely it can't make you vomit more than you already do when you drink it. Maybe all tequila is expired?

My first extraction on day five was a surprising bottle of Apple Sourz, with only two fingers left in it. I'm not sure which is the bigger mystery; how it got here, since I don't recall ever buying a bottle (although I guess a memory Marie Kondo is the whole point of that stuff), or who in their right mind would have drunk all the other fingers?

I was happier to find a quarter bottle of rum. Left over from that six-month patch when everyone said rum was going to be the next gin. But it never happened, because we tasted it and realised rum's only really nice when you drink it with Coke. And we've all seen that Grade 5 project with the teaspoons of sugar.

Once we'd barged through the rum, because that's what you do with rum, next came the little bottles of cocktail accessories that haven't been touched since the summer of '69, along with two half bottles of opened Pimms, which is another mystery I don't understand at all. There is also a bottle of Angostura Bitters (I say is, not was, because I doubt anyone will ever finish it). I find this more of a challenge than a name. Can it really be that bitter? Is it, say, more bitter than sucking on a lemon? Answer while pulling a face: yes, it can be and, yes, it is.

Quick check, what percentage alcohol does sanitiser have to contain again? And does it count if I spill port on my hands while I'm pouring it and then lick it off? More importantly, when did I turn into a 63-year-old member of the British aristocracy?

We moved on to the liqueurs on around morning seven. They're surely the Coco Rico of our generation. Shoved at the back of every booze cupboard in South Africa, thanks to an obscure recipe that calls for a quarter of a cup of something too rich, or remnants of a winter dinner party. Secretly slukked at by the teenagers in the house when nobody's paying attention. Which is all the time, because who's really drinking liqueur more than once a year, and then waking up regretting it? (Other than the teenagers.)

I dusted off a half-full bottle of Kahlua, a full bottle of Kenya Gold Coffee Liqueur, a near empty Cape Velvet Cream, a now empty Melk Tert Liqueur, and a sealed bottle of Hazelnut Angioletto with a ribbon around the neck. Surely just one in this category would suffice? The hazelnut liqueur is the only one whose origins I know. A thank-you gift from a talk I did when my first novel came out 10 years ago.

Lowlight of week two of lockdown was finding a bottle of non-alcoholic gin

Highlight of week two of lockdown was excavating far back enough to get to that cheap bottle of wine somebody must have regifted me because they didn't want it either. Ha, now who's laughing?

Lowlight of week two of lockdown was finding a bottle of non-alcoholic gin. If I find out
who brought that to my house, they're getting the Hazelnut Liqueur next time I'm invited
to their place!

And lastly, I got to two handfuls of mini bottles that I can only imagine I'd nicked from an airline or hotel room, which will go well in my muesli when we run out of milk. Or maybe before that, desperate times call for desperate measures.

When all this booze finally runs out, I guess I'll light up a spliff. Who would have thought we'd be living in a time when alcohol is more illegal than weed?