This Summer, We're Bringing Back the Pregame

It’s time to revive the practice.

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; DESIGN: MARISSA DICKSON/THRILLIST
Editor's Note: This summer is going to be one for the books... albeit, a little strange. After not seeing friends and family for so long, social gatherings are bound to be pretty awkward, which is why we partnered with Ocean Spray® to mix things up and bring our best energy to get back out there. 

It’s Friday night, and, in what feels like an impossible turn of events after being stuck indoors for the last 18 months, I have plans (!) with other humans (!!) at a bar (!!!) 

The thought is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking all at once. I’m trying to remember how to put on eyeliner, actually order a drink, and make conversation beyond how I got super into '90s sci-fi shows in quarantine. When I’m nervous, I talk too much, so I babble all these fears at my husband, who just keeps nodding over his laptop back at me. 

“Seems like you need a drink before you even get to the bar,” he finally says. I roll my eyes, then realize that he may in fact be right. 

I haven’t “pregamed” since college, and if the use of the word “husband” didn’t clue you in, those days are definitely in the rearview mirror. That said, if there's any summer to revive the pregame, it's certainly this one (when you're NOT driving, obviously!) So grab your spirit of choice, stock up on your favorite Ocean Spray® mixers, and let us reintroduce you to the practice. 

Two words: liquid courage 

Vaccination statuses, whether or not I’m ready for a hug, if my maskne will clear up before that big party — there’s a lot to be nervous about when leaving your house right now. And, if you’re like me, you feel that nervousness in your gut… which really only makes you feel MORE nervous. When it comes to butterflies in your stomach, a little ginger beer can calm things down, so this Ocean Spray® cocktail is a good twist. (And you can make it a “mocktail” if you’re feeling extra anxious.) Not to mention the fact that a little pick-me-up will squash any social awkwardness that arises while you're out with your group for the first time in ages. 

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; DESIGN: MARISSA DICKSON/THRILLIST

Yelling your conversation is pretty awkward 

In college, getting ready with roommates before a big night out was always the best part of "going out." We played music we wanted to listen to, at a volume you could still have a conversation over, and had impromptu dance parties while playing games of Flip Cup. That’s why I’m all for having a friend come by for a quick drink then sharing a ride to the bar: you’ll be able to catch up on your own terms and get out any awkward jitters, sans yelling “What!?” repeatedly over a DJ set. Before they come over, mix up a pitcher of these unfussy Madras cocktails — it’s easy to put together in a hurry, but feels like what grown-ups should pregame with. Plus, when the pitcher is empty, you can decide whether or not you actually feel like going out at all, or if your socialization meter has been drained with the drinks. 

Cocktails out are expensive AF

You know what drinking at home for the last year and a half taught me? That I save a boatload of cash drinking at home. While I love a good craft cocktail, missed having real bartenders make them for me, and am willing to pay $15 for one, getting the night started at home makes the entire tab a bit easier on my bank account. (Which is especially important when I suddenly have weddings, bachelorette parties, and hard pants to budget for again.) When cost is top of mind before I go out, I reach for something simple and straightforward, like a classic vodka and cran combo. Pro tip: make yours with a little Ocean Spray® Cran-Pineapple™ or Cran-Watermelon™ to mix things up a bit.

PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; DESIGN: MARISSA DICKSON/THRILLIST

A party in gets you ready for a party out 

A night out is a marathon, not a sprint. (At least, that’s what I assume, as someone who has literally never run for fun.) In keeping with this terrible metaphor, “pregaming” is like stretching before you step out on the pavement. If I’m not in the right headspace to get out on the town, mixing up a drink that feels like a party in a fancy glass gets me there. This cranberry twist on a gin fizz does the trick. (Pro tip: Cran-Raspberry® and early 2000s hip hop works, too.)

Honor your inner introvert

Truth be told, we are not the same people who got together back in 2019, blissfully unaware of how many germs are spread by just sharing space with another human. That means that social events, even ones we look forward to, are bound to be a little more draining. (Science even says so!) When I find myself pining for days when no one asked “what are you up to this weekend?” or wish I could just stay home in sweat pants and reorganize my spice drawer, “pregaming” is a self-care ritual to hold some space for my inner introvert. In those moments, I leave the alcohol out of it and whip up a simple, refreshing mocktail, do a face mask, and then, only once I feel settled, do I get ready to party.