By Kathy Brown.
Julia Child loved to add wine to many of her French-inspired recipes, like Coq a Vin, Boeuf Bourguigon, or my personal favorite, Saute de Boeuf a la Parisienne (much like beef stroganoff). Many people celebrate various holidays and celebrations with alcohol, Corona beer or Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo, wine with your Seder or Easter dinner, beer and hot dogs for Memorial Day barbecues, champagne for New Years and weddings.
Many people were surprised when liquor stores were named as essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic shut-downs, and theories about why range from not wanting a repeat of Prohibition to medical issues like withdrawal. According to an article in Newsweek, “‘Each year there are roughly 250,000 emergency department visits and 850 deaths related to alcohol withdrawal,’ George F. Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, noted in a statement to Newsweek. ‘Abruptly limiting access to alcohol could lead to an increase in withdrawal among people with severe alcohol use disorder and add to the burden on the healthcare system.'” Burdening an already overburdened healthcare system during COVID-19 pandemic is the last thing we want.
According to an article in Psychology Today, there are several reasons for liquor stores being deemed essential: (1) there’s big revenue for the state in taxes from alcohol sales, (2) grocery stores are open because it’s a food and beverage sales, and liquor stores are also a type of beverage, and (3) “the long shadow Prohibition still casts.” According to the article, “Prohibition ended in 1933 and is regarded by many as a catastrophic mistake that caused more deaths and harms than if the government had taken no action. Prohibition caused far too many toxic home and other bootleg brews to be sold or traded in an extensive black market.” The article goes on to say that, “Alcoholics struggling with addiction know liquor is essential because it will stave off the unwanted and severe effects of withdrawal. However, people with alcohol use disorder don’t account for the majority of people who have been rushing the liquor stores and buying in vast quantities. In uncertain times, we tend to want to find comfort in what we can, especially what is familiar. . . Liquor is a comfort beverage.”
If you have problems with alcohol, there are a few resources listed here:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1-800-662-HELP,
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD), 1-800-NCA-CALL
- Alcoholics Anonymous, 866-783-7712
If you would like to channel your own inner Julia Child, try this delicious recipe for Chicken Waterzooi, a Belgian stew with a creamy sauce. Or my favorite, Saute de Boeuf a Parisienne. Yes, I have her “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” both volumes. People think that because we have food restrictions of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, and more, that we don’t eat well or varied. They couldn’t be more wrong. I love altering recipes to make them safe for us. If you need some dry white French vermouth for the first recipe, or Madeira for the second recipe, I am sure one of the liquor stores in our community will be only too happy to help you find it.
Check out what our local liquor stores are doing during COVID-19 to keep their customers and their employees safe:
Country Package Store
Country Package Store, owned by Nitin “Nick” Patel, is located at 356 Route 81, Killingworth.
When asked how he felt about being named an essential business, Nick said, “Although I am grateful to continue my business during these trying times when so many do not have the opportunity to be open, I did find it a little funny that package stores are considered ‘essential.'”
To keep customers safe, the Country Package Store has changed their hours so that they could clean more. Monday through Saturday they are open 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. “Hours of operations have changed in order to implement time for cleaning prior to opening, during business hours, and after business hours,” explained Nick. “Hand sanitizer is provided at the checkout counter. Furthermore, a plexiglass shield has been installed as a barrier separating staff/cashier and customers, with staff utilizing face masks. Additionally, we will be limiting bottle deposits at this time per state suspension of the Connecticut bottle bill.”
They will continue to take phone orders at 860-663-1698. You can also pay by phone, and then pick up your order curbside. “Contactless pick-up can be accommodated once confirmation of legal age is made,” he emphasized.
With Cinco de Mayo coming up soon, Nick wanted to share this recipe for a Jalapeno Margarita:
2 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 oz. of your favorite tequila
1 oz. triple sec
1 tsp. honey
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely diced
1 slice fresh lime, for garnish
1 tsp. salt, for rim of glass
- Mix the lemon juice, tequila, triple sec, honey, and diced jalapeno in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until very cold.
- Rub the lime slice around the rim of a glass and dip in salt to form a salt rim.
- Strain the drink into the glass.
- Enjoy at home with some delicious tacos!
Higganum Wine & Spirits and Teri’s Package Store
Both Higganum Wine & Spirits and Teri’s Package Store are owned by Teri Everett. When asked how they felt about being considered an essential business, Teri said, “Just very happy to be able to keep our staff employed and pay the bills. There are many who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and the uncertainty of the future.”
Both stores have been taking orders by phone and offering curbside pickup, and they will continue to do so. They will do deliveries on request if they have the staff available to do so. Teri explained, “When the virus was just starting to squeak into CT, we had already instituted more cleansing of the stores and requesting customers not linger and chat. Higganum Wine and Teri’s Package were cleaned three times a day if not more, depending on the traffic through the stores.”
But they didn’t stop there. “When the news hit on March 19, 2020, we immediately started to limit the number of customers in the store, requesting that they stay up front and we would fill their orders for them,” said Teri. “We started offering curbside orders. Call ahead and we will bring your merchandise out to your car and put it into your back seat or trunk. We have blocked off an area up front by our register at Teri’s and at Higganum Wine we have a table outside for customers to place their orders. We do not allow browsing. We started to wear masks and gloves long before the Governor requested and now mandates. We are doing our best to keep our shelves fully stocked and not raise our prices for products.”
All year long, Teri and her employees give back to the community. They take donations of cat food (wet and dry) for two residents who have adopted feral cats. The residents have trapped them, had them spayed or neutered, and built shelters for them; customers drop off cat food to help. At both stores, they take donations for the HK Backpack program as well, which feeds the youth in our community. For the last four years, she has also raised money for the American Cancer Society. Between Valentine’s Day and June 1st, she donates 5% of all wine sales to HK Relay for Life. “The Relay has been postponed this year due to the virus,” said Teri. “But the fundraiser will continue as usual. My breast cancer diagnosis was Christmas of 2010 and this year marks my 10th anniversary, so my goal is to reach $10,000 in donations. So far this year, we are over $3,500 in wine donations, and over $1,000 in other donations collected. You don’t need to buy wine in order to donate; you can give through the coin jar. No checks please, since all relays have been postponed until Fall. Our customers are very giving. I love them all for what they do for our town and its needs.”
Not sure what to buy? Their Facebook pages list their craft beers and new items. “Some customers give us free reign to pick something for them. They trust our judgment and our taste to pick out a good brew or wine for them.”
One recipe Teri likes is Car Bomb Cupcakes. The recipe is named after the popular “Car Bomb” cocktail, which is a shot of whiskey and Irish cream dropped into a pint of Guinness. You need to drink it quickly before it curdles. The cupcake recipe is a Guinness-infused chocolate cupcake, filled with whiskey chocolate ganache, and topped with Irish cream icing. If that sounds good to you, you can find a copy of Intoxicated Cupcakes: 41 Tipsy Treats by Kate Lezere, or search for car bomb cupcake recipes online.
One last word from Teri, “Above all, we appreciate our customers’ support, patronage, and friendship during this uncertain time in all our lives. We are trying our best to give our customers the best service possible and in the safest and healthiest manner we can.”
Hi Way Package Store
Hi Way Package Store is located at 18 Killingworth Road, Higganum. Their phone number is 860-345-2315.
You can check them out on Facebook, you can order online at www.hiway.online, and you can download their app (Apple or Android) “Hi-way.online”
When asked how they felt about being considered an essential business, manager Vikhil Patel answered, “Phew. We felt relieved. It does not matter whatever the situation is, the bills do not stop coming in and with a closed business, it gets challenging to pay the bills.”
Tony’s Package Store
Tony’s Package Store, located at 95 Bridge Street in Haddam, is open for business. They changed their hours slightly to: Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They are offering curbside pickup if you place your order by phone 860-345-4307. You can pay over the phone as well, and they will bring it out to your car when you arrive. You can also check them out on Facebook and Instagram.
When they found out that they were considered an essential business, they said, “We felt thankful to be able to continue serving our community.”
“To keep our customers and staff safe, we have implemented many new procedures,” said Eliza Burke. “We have installed plexiglass in front of our registers to ensure more separation between our cashiers and our customers. We have also put “feet” on our floor to show where customers should be standing in line to ensure that they are six feet apart. Our employees wear masks and gloves and sanitize frequently-touched surfaces as much as possible.”
A recipe that they would like to share is for hand sanitizer. They have been working to stock grain alcohol (95% alcohol, 190 proof) so that people can make hand sanitizer, as it is often out of stock at stores.
3/4 c. grain alcohol
1/4 c. aloe vera gel
10 drops essential oil (optional)
- Pour all ingredients into a bowl
- Mix with a spoon and then beat with a whisk to turn the sanitizer into a gel
- Add essential oils as desired
- Pour the mixture into an empty bottle for easy dispensing.
Photo of Tony’s courtesy of Tony’s Package Store. Photo of Teri’s courtesy of Teri Everett. Photos of Hi Way courtesy of Hi Way Package Store.