Cinnamon showers bring Tiki fires. That’s the expression right? At least it is in my house. I created this Maneater Tiki Cocktail in honour of the one year anniversary of Virtual Happy Hour which I celebrated on March 16th.
If you’re in Ottawa/Gatineau, you should head over to this Instagram post to enter to win a huge home bar essentials gift pack that I’ve teamed up with Chef’s Paradise to award to one lucky winner – a gesture of my gratitude for following along for a full year of Virtual Happy Hour. Follow the instructions in the post to enter – contest closed March 26th at 4:59 p.m.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been hosting Virtual Happy Hour for a full year. In that time, we’ve made 175 cocktails, had one shaker explosion, made countless new friends, shared many laughs and a few tears. Many businesses were forced to pivot when the pandemic made landfall in Canada.
As a content creator who works primarily within the confines of my own home, I certainly wasn’t forced to make any drastic changes but I did want to give people something to do while they were cooped up at home. I’d read that people in Asia, where the pandemic hit several months earlier, were hosting virtual happy hours to maintain a sense of connection with friends during an otherwise isolated time.
When we were placed under lockdown in Ottawa, I decided, who better to host a virtual happy hour than yours truly? So, on the fateful Monday night, I held my phone in one hand and mixed a three-ingredient gin cocktail with the other. The viewing experience likely left my followers with vertigo but several people made the drink on that first evening and shared it to their story or reached out to me via DM to say how much they liked the idea.
The next day I popped down to Henry’s and picked up a cellphone attachment for my tripod and got a lighting kit. I don’t know what compelled me to make VHH a daily event, with the exception of #SoberSundays, but I went all-in.
A lot of creators put the newfound openings in their social calendar to work and created different series of their own. People were looking for diversion and distraction from the anxiety and uncertainty of a global pandemic – and we were all too happy to offer it.
The only thing I did differently from most other creators was my frequency and my consistency. I didn’t taper back to twice weekly happy hour episodes until after my 100th episode aired in late July. A year in, my Virtual Happy Hour series opened the door to many brand partnerships, garnered me more than 4,000 new followers, and created a real sense of community in a year when we couldn’t hug our friends or visit our families in other parts of the country.
So, while I wasn’t forced to pivot because of the pandemic, introducing the virtual happy hour series to Instagram and bringing the humour and personality I’d reserved for these blog posts into a video format, forever changed the trajectory of Taste & Tipple. I’d previously been hesitant to create content that focused on anything other than the recipes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the star character in my brand.
If you go back to the early episodes of VHH, catalogued on IGTV, and compare them to my latest entries, you can see how I’ve gradually become more authentic, outrageous, and comfortable in front of the camera. Its deeply flattering to know that people look forward to tuning in to my episodes on Tuesdays and Fridays and my VHH series has now become my unique value proposition when I reach out to potential partners.
This unplanned pivot has allowed me to connect with so many great new people and afforded me opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had. If you take anything away from this story, let it be: 1) start be for you’re ready, and 2) sometimes life will take you unexpected directions and be sure to enjoy the journey.