Don’t forget the booze
Liquor laws are notoriously tricky business. Thankfully, the state’s COVID-19 mandate made it clear that shuttered bars and restaurants are not just allowed but encouraged to deliver unopened bottles of beer, wine, and liquor to us thirsty shelter-in-placers. This means you can still get your professionally recommended drink on from a safe social distance, though note that unlike California and New York, Chicagoans can’t get technically premixed cocktails to-go, only cocktail kits featuring sealed, full bottles of booze and accoutrement. (Miss your perfectly stirred martini? Fight the good fight by checking out famed Kumiko cocktail wizard Julia Mamose’s Change.org petition to legalize carry-out mixed drinks.)
Many bars and restaurants are jumping on the boozy bandwagon and are offering curbside pick-ups specifically designed to enhance your dwindling home bar. Tiki legend Three Dots & a Dash is delivering a bounty of rare and exclusive rum along with festive mugs and housemade syrups via Bub City’s GrubHub page and boundary-pushing West Loop den The Aviary has partnered with Mississippi River Distilling Company to push a set of bottled, barrel-aged cocktails sure to scratch your molecular gastronomy itch.
Looking for something a little more low-brow? Dial up Happy Camper and get in on their Basic Hard Seltzer Survival Kit. A cool $75 gets you two medium pizzas, a 12-pack of Basic Hard Seltzer in a variety of flavors, plus ranch dressing, cookie dough, and, get this, a fresh roll of toilet paper (while supplies last). Better yet, all the profits benefit the restaurant’s employee emergency fund.
Stock up on gift cards
Buying a gift card is a fantastic way to show some love to the local restaurant scene in their time of need while also doing your future self a solid. Lots of spots are now adding extra incentives like matching funds or discounts to get folks spending. Order take-out from etta or Maple & Ash right now, and the restaurants will toss in a gift card for future use that matches your order’s total. For example, buy $40 worth of tasty steak today and you’ll get $40 towards another tasty steak whenever this madness subsides. Outposts like Boka Restaurant Group’s lauded network and Wrigleyville stunner Mordecai are also selling their gift cards online (a hot commodity if and when baseball ever starts up again... ) and The Smith is selling a series of steeply discounted gift cards for your future dining pleasure ($100 card for $90, $500 for $400, $1,000 for $650, and $5,000 for $2,500).