Keep Edinburgh Thriving - shop local
Updated: Jun 7
Photos and words by Kirsty Lee Wilkins
Who could have imagined, when we celebrated the start of 2020, that it would quickly morph into this. A global pandemic.
Life has changed this year, including the way we shop. Supporting independent businesses in the current (rather strange) circumstances has become even more important, given that many owners are left feeling uncertain about their financial future. That’s exactly why founder Robbie Allen set up Keep Edinburgh Thriving. A local business in itself, the company collaborates with independent stores in the city to create gift boxes – including, for instance, soap, craft beer, tea, honey and lip balm. Cue the Quarantini Box. The plain, cardboard package arrives one Friday afternoon, just in time for the weekend. Each box contains a gluten-free lager from Bellfield Brewery, along with two cocktails (if you choose the small option for £39) or two beers and six cocktails (yep, that’s the large box, £55), along with sweets from The Little Parlour in South Queensferry. The cocktails can change as Robbie plans to mix up the restaurants and bars he works with – ultimately, he says, “we want to support [the hospitality industry] as much as we can as well as bring a little bit of the Edinburgh bar scene to customers across the city who will be missing their favourite bars and restaurants.” My particular Quarantini Box line-up?
Espresso Mart-ana-tini by Buck & Birch
Banana daiquiri by Hey Palu
Negroni by Old Poison Distillery
Starburst martini by Tonic
Gluten-free lager by Bellfield Brewery
Pick and mix from The Little Parlour
Being Friday, and given I wouldn’t have minded a wee evening out with friends, it was a perfectly acceptable time to start on the starburst martini from Tonic (in normal times the bar is open on North Castle Street). Making it was simpler than I expected: there’s a cocktail shaker (an additional £5) amongst the pouches and bottles, so all you need to do is add ice and then the martini, shake it up for 30 seconds or so, then strain it into your glass. If pushed for a favourite, I particularly enjoyed the espresso martini from Buck & Birch, for no other reason than personal preferences: I love coffee and martinis are my cocktail of choice. As Nick Robinson, owner of Tonic, concludes, “in this difficult time, the Quarantini Box allows Tonic as a team to bring a little bit of normality back into our lives.” I’m looking forward to seeing what the next box contains … And eventually trying the bars out in person.
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