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Bringing Queen City Nightlife Into the Home During Quarantine

Turning 30 in isolation

Two Saturdays ago, I woke up at 7 a.m. to the beautiful sound of my new 7-week-old puppy screaming bloody murder. “Happy Birthday to me,” I thought to myself as my boyfriend and I struggled to climb out of bed to walk Guinness (yes, like the beer) outside for “potty time.” I need out of this quarantine. 

We walked back inside and cleaned up the house to prepare for a social-distance visit from my parents, who couldn’t bear to stay away for the momentous occasion. My boyfriend picked up a cake (a delicious three-tiered red velvet cake lovingly inscribed “Mama Spruill” from Suárez Bakery) for the four of us to share after I opened my presents. After finishing our takeout from CO, we bid the parentals adieu and settled on the couch.

Aerin Spruill

By 9:30 p.m. I was only two cocktails in and ready for bed. For a moment before closing my eyes I thought to myself, “What has this lover of all things Q.C. nightlife, inebriation, and ill-advised choices become?!” The answer: a puppy mother with a shameful tolerance whose newfound desires are to puzzle, watch Netflix, and go to bed before 10 p.m. *Sighs.* This is 30 in quarantine.

It is with deep sadness I remind you following Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest announcement that while there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, life as we knew it before quarantine is still a hop, skip and a long jump away. There are still many more nights of celebrating milestones in our homes, not knowing what day it is, limited social interaction and early bedtimes ahead of us.

I don’t know about you, but for myself, the question has quickly become, how the eff can we recreate Queen City nightlife in the confines of our home? The good news is, local bars and restaurants are finding unique ways to help us bring the comforts we’ve taken for granted to our dining and living rooms.

If you haven’t figured out how to get the smells, tastes, and sounds of Charlotte nightlife to your door after all this time, here are few keys to mental (and intestinal?) escape!

Order to-go from your favorite restaurant. Now this is my idea of a pregame when I think back to “Sicily, 1960” (shameless Golden Girls plug) when we were all allowed outside — a good ass meal! One thing I’ve loved about the resilient creativity of restaurants making the most out of this moment is that a lot of our favorite spots are still offering take-out! Many still offering their full menu while others are coming up with brand new creations to tickle our palates. This for me has been one of the easiest ways to keep in touch with my “taste for nightlife.”

Quarantining alone? Local restaurants like Haberdish will join you for community dinner! Infamous for its Southern fare, Haberdish is offering Takeout Tuesdays on Facebook Live featuring restaurant owners, Jeff and Jamie. Grab your take-out (doesn’t have to be from Haberdish) and listen in on the conversation!

Pretend you’re a chef for the night … or at least a sous chef? Picture the simplicity of Hello Fresh, but local! If you’re more the type to cook at home in quarantine, throw on your apron because you have some options. Take a virtual cooking class from a local chef (like Alyssa) or even more convenient, purchase a cook-at-home meal kit complete with everything you’ll need from participating restaurants. Bardo, for example, recently shared their meal-for-two taco kits complete with all the fixings! Only risk? You may realize you don’t need to go back to the restaurant right away when this is all over!

Become a mixologist. Okay, maybe that’s a lofty goal, but after you make your own cocktails at home, you’ll probably think you’re one. Many of your favorite drink spots and bartenders like Bob Peters, Colleen Hughes, Dot Dot Dot, Bardo, Haberdish and Fin and Fino are spilling their secrets on popular cocktails by way of cocktail kits, virtual happy hours and recipes.

But keep in mind, alcohol is not included in those kits. Prepare for the shitshow that is the ABC Store and the shame of feeling like an alcoholic when ordering a gallon of anything, plus a handle of whatever as you stand in a tiny, numbered chalk square that reminds you how much longer you have to wait while being yelled at by an underpaid ABC Store clerk.

When you’re done, tip a Charlotte bartender to pay it forward for when bars open back up!  

Enjoy live entertainment. No, not that kind, Uptown Cab is closed, but you can still get your twerk on if you tune into Instagram or Facebook Live. Many local DJs are bringing the sounds you miss at Sip, Prohibition, Local, and Tilt to your living room, not to mention Queen City Nerve’s regular Quarantine Live sessions on Facebook. Follow your favorite sound curators and be on the lookout for when they go live. This may be your only opportunity to sneak in a request before they hit the streets again.

Though your favorite restaurants and watering holes seem far away, getting a taste of nightlife is easier than you think! Share other tips for getting old biddies like myself and your fellow Charlotteans back in the groove at home by finding me on IG or Twitter.

Check out more of Aerin’s columns here.

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