As much of the world remains on lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many pubs and restaurants are coming up with new and creative ways to stay in business. From pints of Guinness straight to your door, to a fully digital pub, here’s how bars around the globe are quenching our thirst while their doors are closed to the public.

Pints delivered in Dublin
Pints on their way to Dublin drinkers © Mary Grainger

When pints come knocking

In many parts of the world, off-licences and brewers have been deemed an essential service  - alcohol is part every day life in many parts of the world. Ireland is certainly no different. Among the more creative Irish publicans has been Graingers', Hanlons Corner on the North Circular Road in Dublin is delivering pints to the thirsty public.

“We have staff who would be quite badly impacted if they were out of work, so we did this for them as much as anything,” explains co-owner Mary Grainer, speaking to Lonely Planet. The Graingers are famous for their unusual approach to running a bar – in 1993 their Baldoyle establishment opened the first ever supervised creche for the children of parents enjoying a tipple. It's now closed, but got a lot of media attention at the time. 

Upon being closed last month due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Grainger family decided to gauge the public’s interest in having pints delivered to their door. The response was overwhelming: their first week they delivered over 800, and now we’re turning over nearly 3,500 each week.   

A young man hands over a tray of pints to an older man. Both are smiling for the camera.
The pub delivers within a three mile radius - to keep the drinks fresh © Mary Grainger

“The minimum order is four pints, and you can order any beer you like,” Grainger continues. Four pints are placed in a cardboard container like you might see in a takeaway, with plastic over them to keep things fresh. One member of staff drives, while another holds the beer still. 

Delivery is only available within a three-mile radius of the premises, so there’s minimal time between a pint being pulled and arriving at the customer’s door.

“We also top it up when we get to your home,” she adds. “You’ll get a full pint.”   

The outside of Wadworth brewery
Brewer and pub-owners Wadworth have created a virtual pub © Wadworth & Co Ltd

Logging on for a drink 

Patrons of UK group Wadworth & Co Ltd's pubs are enjoying a drink in a different way in recent weeks – digitally. The chain has opened an online bar, the Henry, which boasts over 2.6k members, with numbers steadily growing.  

“The idea came two weeks before things shut down, when we were starting to see people being self-isolated, and as the situation was getting worse across the UK,” says marketing manager for the organisation, Sarah Berry. “People were having less of an opportunity to get out into the pub and connect in that way, with that sense of community you get….Why thought ‘how can we be there in a virtual space, if people can’t be here physically?”

Today, live music is happening at least three times a week, with pub quizzes and other events typically found any night in one of their pubs. While not the real thing, people in quarantine can connect with their friends while at home, and enjoy a drink with friends. 

Group of friends drinking beer at a cafe.
Venues that once hosted drinkers are becoming supermarkets for the duration of the crisis  © Xsandra/Getty Images

Heading to the pub to pick up some groceries  

Faced with declining footfall, other pubs have opted for a different, more drastic option: turning into grocery stores for the duration on the pandemic.  

The My Pub Shop initiative has seen over 2000 pubs across the United Kingdom transformed into grocers, now selling essentials such as milk and bread to the public. So if your local supermarket is out of something you need, it might just be time to head for the bar. 

The initiative was spearheaded by StarStock, an online trading platform. Meanwhile, Breaks, a large wholesaler to many British supermarkets, will supply the participating pubs with many of their supplies. 

Members of the public will benefit from the plan, which will also keep many people working as unemployment rates skyrocket across areas impacted by the coronavirus.  

Refills offered 

Australians are known for their love of beer, so the lockdown has prompted plenty of businesses to get creative in how they sell booze. 

Growlers – a 1.9 litre jug typically filled with craft beer – are extremely popular with drinkers Down Under. Not only do they save people going to the bar as frequently, they can be refilled. Think of them as kind of like keep cups for partying Australians.

Unable to open their doors to be public, many pubs are now instead opening their taps up to drinkers. People can bring their growler to the bar and refill it before heading back home. 

This means that pubs can use at least their stock, which has a limited sell-by date and could easily go to waste if not sold relatively quickly. And most importantly, bar staff are keeping their jobs. 

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Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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