TOP of many people’s lists of most-missed pleasures during the lockdown is savouring a glass of something chilled with friends at a local pub.
But with the watering holes shut by the coronavirus, hostelries, off-licences and craft producers have stepped up with deliveries and a range of special offers to give people at home a taste of what they’re missing until the doors finally reopen.
Stay-at-home shoppers can now get hold of everything from an award-winning sparkling rose from Sway’s very own vineyard; to a one kilo bag of pick and mix sweets; to a twin-pack of Conker gin and hand sanitiser.
These are just some of the things people are treating themselves to during lockdown as traders in the drinks business improvise so they can keep going during the pandemic.
Many who are unable to open for the time being are now offering free delivery and collection, such as at the Confectioner & Gin Shop, in High Street, Christchurch, which is dropping off as far away as Lymington and Ringwood.
Owner Sally Barwick, who runs the store with husband Lloyd, told the A&T how they launched the delivery three weeks ago, saying: “We are not allowed to open but our landlord still wants his rent.
“It enables us to tick over while also helping people cope with the lockdown. People are really pleased to get one of our deliveries, especially if it is for a birthday or other celebration.
“There are places doing deliveries of drink, or chocolate – but no one doing both together.”
The store offers a huge variety of gins along with chocolates, sweets and fudge amongst other goodies.
Sally said her best sellers have been the local Christchurch-produced Pothecary gin and a one kilo bag of sweets.
She said: “We have one lady who has ordered a bottle of gin a week, I think it’s been her way of coping with isolation.”
The shop takes orders from Thursday to Saturday by phone or online, and then Sally and her husband deliver at the weekends.
At Solent Cellars, at St Thomas Street in Lymington, the best seller has been the twin-pack of Conker Gin and hand sanitiser priced at £45. Both are made by Conker Gin at their Bournemouth distillery.
Shop owner Simon Smith said: “When we first launched the deliveries at the start of lockdown, we were so overwhelmed we had to shut our website down for two days.
“We’ve been busy ever since. When the weather was hot our rose wines were very popular too.
“The classic gins are selling well at the moment as where people cannot come in to try out the craft ones before they buy as normal, they are tending to stick to what they know.
“We offer free delivery and have been taking orders to Sway, Milford and Beaulieu.”
In Sway, Marlings Vineyard owner Mark Marlings said he is enjoying “putting a smile on people’s faces”.
He is offering free delivery of the award-winning wines which the 30-year-old vineyard produces. They include a sparkling rose which was voted best in its class at last year’s GB Wine Awards in the Wessex region.
Mark said: “It’s our way of giving back to the local community. Today we’ve had an order from an elderly couple who live around the corner.
“They are under orders from their families to stay in complete isolation and have not been out since this all started. They like our wines and were really delighted to be able to have them delivered.
“They said it really lifted their spirits.”
Marlings sparkling rose is priced at £24.99, takes two years to produce, and is made in the champagneois method. There is also a “ravishing rose” for £12.99 and what Mark calls a “polite white” for £12.99 and a Bacchus chardonnay for 14.99.
Mark said: “The highest alcohol content of our wines is 12% and people seem to prefer drinking something light in lockdown.
“We are really pleased that we are able to offer this service. People are so delighted when we turn up. It gives them a little bit of normality and a lifeline at what is a difficult time.”
In Christchurch’s Saxon Centre, the Saxon bar is offering a takeaway and service for craft beers and ciders from Wednesday to Saturday.
It says bestsellers include the pale ale Turn on, Tune in, and the aptly-named California IPA Every Minute Counts.