Episode 2: Liquor and Long Distance Relationships – Yes or No?

What if we tell you that liquor can even connect people when they’re far away from each other? In our new episode of LongDistanceShort, we’ll show you how to get closer with the help of Drinkable Gifts! Our guests David Coyne and Sempronia Hobgood are alcohol experts here to share their favorite cocktail recipes, teach you how to deliver gifts with liquor in them, and discuss the etiquette of sharing a drink from afar.

Hello and welcome to another episode of “Long Distance Short” — GiftBasketsOverseas.com’s podcast where we talk to real people about the triumphs and tribulations in all kinds of long-distance relationships. Your host is Ally Winters, an international gift consultant who’s found success in her own long-distance romances and friendships.

Get ready for today’s topic: “Liquor gifts in long-distance relationships — yes or no? And if so, how?” Today’s guests are David Coyne and Sempronia Hopgood. Dave is one of the hosts of the popular podcast, “The Gentlemen of Elegant Leisure”, and Sempi is the social media manager for DrinkableGifts.com. So keep listening for great tips on the best ways to send a drinkable surprise to someone you love, even if they’re far away. Take it away, Ally!

 

ALLY

 

Hi, my dear listeners! Today we’re going to discuss long-distance relationships through the prism of… yes, alcohol. Both David and Sempi have good knowledge in the world drinking culture and traditions so I’m really excited to learn more about it. Hi Sempi, hi David!

 

DAVE

Hi!

 

SEMPI

Hi!

 

ALLY

How are you?

 

DAVE

Pretty good, thanks!

 

SEMPI

I’m doing well.

 

ALLY

 

Nice to hear! I’m also totally great, discussing such an interesting topic like alcohol which can serve as a tool for keeping long-distance relationships warm. By the way, I think it’s a great ice breaker in my country (I’m originally from Ukraine). In post-soviet countries, you know, vodka is considered an every-day meal (laugh). Of course, it’s not so, we prefer beer more. Although, yeah, it can break not only ice as well as it can destroy your liver severely. Is it relatable to you? Do you have so-called drinking labels in the US and Canada?

 

SEMPI

 

I have a lot of international friends, and they’re all shocked by the fact that I don’t drink, like, Budweiser and Busch — those are, like, the US-known brands. They’re like: you don’t drink that? — No, I don’t, I’m a cider woman… or a good rum and coke, right? I just don’t touch beer, it’s not for me. And it just… blows their mind — then I’m like: well, you certainly have those sorts of myths of what people expect you to drink, based on where you’re from or maybe what you look like.

 

DAVE

Yeah, and it’s the same in Canada because we’re known as a beer country — more than… Well, actually, that’s changing a bit with our wines, but traditionally it’s been beer. I don’t drink beer myself.

 

ALLY

And talking about international friends, did you have any experience in sending or receiving alcohol to anybody?

 

DAVE

Yeah, I mean, I’ve always… I’ve never actually shipped alcohol to anyone internationally; my brother-in-law tried to send a bottle of gin, which was from the Philippines — but he actually had it, he lives in California, and he tried to send it to me from California, which is only about… a matter of thousand miles from where I lived. And he sent it through the US mail, but I never actually received the bottle, so I guess it must have broken somewhere within the postal system, and it was just discarded, because I didn’t receive it. So, I guess, you really do have to be careful about how you ship it and what you ship it with. So, you probably know more about it, Ally, than I do — do you have any tips on that, or?

 

ALLY

Absolutely! First of all, to make sure your recipient will get the alcohol, you need to ship it within the country of delivery. It doesn’t mean that you need to buy it yourself though. Especially, our company GiftBasketsOverseas does it in a way that we send alcohol from our local office in the country of delivery straight to the address of your recipient. Therefore, if your brother-in-law is in the US but the gift is going to Canada, we will ship it within Canada. This way, we avoid unnecessary custom procedures and undesirable invoices sent to the recipients, for instance, a request to pay a fee for the international shipping, which is not desirable. Important to say, some countries have their own restrictions in alcohol delivery and our gift experts know everything about them (so you’re welcome to consult them). For example, it’s forbidden to ship any type of alcohol within Morocco or Finland. Well, there are many similar exceptions.

And secondly, any international shipping takes from 1 to 4 weeks to arrive at the requested address. However, if you want them to have a bottle of Merlot, let’s say, tomorrow, all you need to do is to make the order on our website Giftbasketsoverseas.com and wait until tomorrow. That’s it. We will take care of everything else.

 

DAVE

Oh, that’s good.

 

SEMPI

So, Ally, you were mentioning: if a brave soul decides to go ahead and send a basket from their home to someone abroad, it can be done — at risk for duty fees and things. If they do decide to do that, what sort of tips would you give somebody for packing their bottle to arrive safely?

 

ALLY

Of course. Needless to say, the more expensive alcohol you send, the better packaging it has, starting from the quality of paper and finishing with the way it is set in the original box (just remember Dom Perignon Champagne packaging). Make sure the box you are using is sturdy and doesn’t have any holes in it, fill in the box with tissue paper or bubble wrap and put it around the bottle. In case you want to send a few bottles, you need to take care of fitted box dividers and inserts, yeah. Rubber bands or shipping tape can be quite helpful too but forget about aesthetics in this case. After everything is packaged well, try to shake the box a little bit (don’t drop it!) to predict its moving during the transportation. I think, that’s basically it.

 

DAVE

So, since you’re dealing a lot with international issues and stuff, can you give us, like… If there’s certain alcoholic gifts that are more popular in some areas than others — what’s your overview on that?

 

ALLY

That’s a good question! In fact, we’ve made some statistics and found out that popular gifts in all countries are different. It’s quite predictable due to the cultural peculiarities and economic situation in different regions, obviously. For example, in the US, popular gifts are usually those, which look big and contain many various items like, a few bottles of wine and many boxes of snacks that go along. In eastern countries like Japan, the most popular are those, which don’t contain a lot of items, which is absolutely the opposite. An ideal gift set for this country would consist of one or two bottles of alcohol (with a good name) combined with a quality box of chocolates, for example.

However, our listeners should not bother with doing any kind of research since Giftbasketsoverseas.com has the most popular gifts at the top of the page, no matter what country of delivery you chose. Nevertheless, don’t forget to find out your recipient’s personal preferences so that your gift is as personalized as possible, of course.

 

DAVE

Right, right. That makes sense.

 

ALLY

Sempi, I know you’ve writing descriptions for the alcoholic gifts on the website. How do clients know what taste to choose if they are not familiar with, let’s say, all sorts of wine or whisky or gin or whatever?

 

SEMPI

Sure! This is something that I end up having to google a lot, particularly for wine — I’m not a big wine drinker, and the wines I do like tend to be really cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel bottles that you wouldn’t want to send anyone anyway. What I do is a lot of googling, because, when looking especially at GiftBasketsOverseas, there are just very short descriptions, and they’re pretty clear about what you get in the basket and the general overview of the bottle, but they don’t always tell you exactly what you can compare it to, to get an idea of the flavor.

So for that, I google, and I very often end up going to a website called thewinecellarinsider.com — and you can just look up the exact bottle that you’re getting ready to purchase, and they’ll give you an overview. There’s sort of two overviews there: one is the, like, official wine-taster’s tell-you-the-bouquet-of-the-wine — which tells me nothing, because I’ve never sniffed a bottle and thought: I’d drink it! But then they also tell you: okay, it’s got chocolate notes, or notes of cranberry, or it pairs really well with dessert, or this is for somebody having a steak dinner — sort of more practical advice, especially for somebody like me who doesn’t drink a lot of wine.

But there’s sites on this for everything: from vodka to beer, which has really expanded in, sort of, how to describe flavor profiles and educating people on just how different beer can actually be. So I would just encourage people to google — or just ask around for recommendations. A lot of times, especially with customer service agents who have been doing this for a very long time, they sort have in mind the bottles of wine they know have done best in the past — and so they’ll be able to tell you: oh, this has been friendly for a new drinker, or this is the kind of liquor you send somebody who’s really serious about their liquor collection.

 

ALLY

Yes, definitely worth trying.

 

DAVE

Yeah, and I don’t drink wine myself, so I can’t really… add too much to what’s already been said. But I’ll take your advice!

 

ALLY

Talking about popular gifts, do you think there is a universal alcohol gift to give? Nowadays, personalization seems to be the answer for literally every question in our consumer society but still, I was wondering whether we can come up with one, which can help us maintain warm long-distance relationships with literally anybody.

 

DAVE

My guess would be wine — because it’s just been around so long and it’s a part of so many different cultures. But, again, I think it goes back to — you have to know the person fairly well to make sure you know what their preferences are in terms of alcohol. Otherwise you can have just wasted your money. But I think wine is certainly up in the top, top of the list, I would think. What about you guys?

 

SEMPI

I would agree with wine. For a couple of reasons — and maybe not all of them are the best reasons. But it’s a really great gift to re-gift; so if you send somebody wine and they don’t like it, it’s not like it has to just go die on a shelf — they probably have someone they could then give the bottle too.

You also cook with it a lot: so most wines, particularly a solid dark red, like a Merlot, — you can just go ahead and make a soup with. So if you don’t necessarily drink it, it’s really good for adding a nice, deep body to stock. So, if you didn’t know that before… go ahead and add it to the stock, see what happens. It’s magical.

Otherwise, mixer packs: very often you can find variety packs, or if you don’t know what they like, you just send them those mini bottles especially, and tell them: have an adventure! You know… didn’t know what you wanted, so I got you a little of everything.

 

DAVE

Right! Right, a sampler. It’s a good idea.

 

SEMPI

So, Ally, on this topic, what do you recommend about sending alcohol as a business gift? Because I know that maybe some offices frown on that entirely; how do you recommend people going to send it either from a business partner to another business partner, or just to other offices — how do they go about making sure they’re not crossing any lines?

 

ALLY

Yes, we have delivered thousands of corporate orders before and there are a few rules that I can indicate:

1 – Although alcohol is quite a universal gift, it does not work everywhere and can play even a bad joke with you. Some companies simply refuse gifts that contain alcohol due to their company’s internal policies or religious or political situation or whatever it can be

2 – If this company sent you an alcoholic gift before, it’s a good sign. This means that in 99% of cases you can send them alcoholic gift back and it would be appreciated (because you have the same drinking culture).

3 – Do some googling before making the final decision. Even the surname of CEO can sometimes tell you that alcohol is a taboo there (in Islamic countries, for instance).

By the way, I’ve just come with a question, if we decide to send alcohol for the first time to a person we don’t know well, what’s the best one that can be used as an ice breaker?

 

DAVE

Well, if you’re sending someone something internationally, I would think that sending something that’s well-known or liked in your own culture would be a good thing to send someone in a different country, who maybe doesn’t have access to the sort of alcohol, or wine, or beer. I think that’s a good sort of ice-breaker, as you’re sharing something from your own culture, and letting someone else from a different culture try it and see if they like it.

 

SEMPI

I — you know what, I one hundred percent agree with that idea, but I’m gonna expand on that further because I’m the kind of girl who likes to drink with a snack. So I just… (laugh) I think booze goes best with dessert, so I think, especially where it’s maybe a little more difficult to send international bottles of wine, or maybe it’s just — or alcohol, hard liquor that’s maybe more difficult to find, — you can usually always find snacks.

Like, I don’t know what’s happened with US candies recently, but it seems you can find them all over the world, so, when I send gifts to friends, I try and sneak in, like, a Reese’s bar, some Godiva chocolate, or, you know, some of my favorites — really, care-package type stuff, so they can have a snack break on me and… ‘Cause I think food is love.

(laugh) So. If food is love, then alcohol has to be, like… the best hug you’ve ever gotten. Without actually being there to give a hug.

 

ALLY

I cannot agree more! (laugh)

 

ALLY

Now, a few words for the sponsors of this episode the International Alcohol Delivery Company DrinkableGifts.com

It’s never been easier to send family and friends their favorite drink or a new cocktail, no matter where they are in the world. With beer, wine, and liquor delivery to more than 175 countries, DrinkableGifts.com is ready to help you send a toast around the globe.

 

ALLY

And talking about drinking culture, there is such a thing like drinking games. They’re not that popular as video games but they’re getting popular every day. So do you have any ideas on that regard?

 

DAVE

Um, I’ve never played drinking games — I’ve always preferred to just start a conversation with someone and share a drink, so it’s not part of my history also — I’m afraid I can’t give you much helpful input on that, so I’ll have to leave it up to you guys, if you’ve ever had some drinking game experiences?

 

SEMPI

So, you know, when we were talking about what we were going to talk today, and you guys let me know this might come up as a topic, I had thought I had never played a drinking game. And I asked around to my friends, and it turns out, I have.

Especially among nerd culture, so people who watch things like “Doctor Who” or “Lord of the Rings” or the “Harry Potter” movies — you know, a hundred times, so you can quote along with the actors — it’s become popular to pick a word that is maybe overused in whatever you’re watching — and you drink every time that’s said. (laugh)

I very much recommend that when you do this, you pick a word where you drink either a shot or a sip of your alcohol. I recommend mixed drinks, not hard shots, or you will regret it. And then pick another word where everybody has to drink some water — to stay hydrated. So you can actually make it through the entire event. (laugh)

 

DAVE

Right.

 

SEMPI

I say this not from the months and months of practice, but having thought it through the first time I did it, because we did with the “Lord of the Rings” series, and any time “the one ring” was mentioned, people had to drink. And I thought: oh God, well, I’m going to die. We have to come up with countermeasures.

So then we came up with specific rules of: okay, any time someone makes fun of an elf — not just Legolas, any elf — then you get to drink water. Right, or any time Gimli has… somebody makes a short joke about a dwarf, you also have to drink water. Which made it much more… much more bearable. And you got to pick your drink, of course — so I was sitting there with just a mixed drink, but… you know, some people decided to do it with shots — it’s all about knowing your own tolerance. And having flexible rules, I think.

 

ALLY

It’s also a good game for introverts. (laugh)

 

SEMPI

Yes! Introverts, unite. In your own home. (laugh)

But there are more sporting ones! There are more competitive ones, it was pretty pervasive especially when I was going to college here in the US, that people would play beer pong. Or variations of beer pong. I’m not sure who decided that alcohol and sports mixed. But it’s fun to watch — it’s a hilarious game to watch. But I don’t… I can’t think of any other country I know of — Ally, you can help me out here — that has like a… a sport-type drinking game.

 

ALLY

 

Yeah. Here in Russia and Ukraine, there’s an Internet joke about one simple drinking game. The sport in which you drink and become the winner is called liter-ball. Liter here refers to the amount of alcohol one can drink. There are no balls, obviously, and the rules are quite simple – you drink more than your buddies so you win. Pretty simple (laugh).

Also, I’ve heard about chess drinking game. All you need to have is a chess desk, alcohol and glasses instead of chess pieces. But you need to make sure that the glasses which you’ll put on the chess desk are different as we need a queen, knight or bishop etc. because we WILL play a real game with them. Once you lose your piece, you have to drink it.

 

SEMPI

I think this might also be a way to make chess more popular. (laugh) We’ve been doing it wrong all these years! We could have been drinking.

 

ALLY

Or checkers for beginners. (laugh) But you will get drunk a little bit faster, I think.

 

SEMPI

I think if you can play chess drunk, then you get to call yourself an honorary grandmaster.

 

ALLY

Yeah, it’s a really interesting idea, and it should be more popular, definitely.

 

SEMPI

I agree. So, talking about all these games and ways to get drunk faster and with friends, what are some tips on drinking safely? We’ve mentioned staying hydrated, but maybe other ways. Especially when you’re not with your partner — how do you sort of keep an eye on them, make sure they’re getting home safely, that sort of thing.

DAVE

Well, I’d definitely make a plan ahead of time and not leave it till… until they’re already well into drinking. And you both sort of agree on just making sure everybody’s safe, and you take care of that ahead of time.

ALLY

And definitely it’s always better to have a person in a company who doesn’t drink. Otherwise, you should certainly take a taxi.

DAVE

Yeah, like a designated driver, somebody in the group.

 

SEMPI

My friend’s group has a rule, and I think this rule should be spread around the world, that whoever is the designated driver for the evening eats for free. So they get their food bought and paid for, because they’re making sure everyone gets home safely.

But with the advent especially of, like, Uber and similar road services, it’s become a lot easier to order a cab for somebody — even if you’re not… You don’t even have to be in the same city, let alone the same country. So just say: okay, hey, thanks for letting me know that you’re drunk, I’m gonna send you an Uber. And sort of stay on the phone with them — to make sure they get in the right car.

 

DAVE

Right. (laugh)

 

SEMPI

Actually… actually, make it all the way home! You don’t… That can be an embarrassing story to tell.

 

ALLY

If, let’s say, a slightly different story. One person, who’s in another country, doesn’t drink and you are a hard drinker. So how do we do here? How do we, so to say, share the fun?

DAVE

Drink club soda? (laugh) Well, I don’t really view it so much as a problem — you just make sure you bring along something that you either like, or, hopefully, where you’re going you can order what you want, and one person can enjoy the alcohol, and the other person enjoys a mocktail, or some other drink.

 

SEMPI

I think mocktails are… one of the better — I don’t wanna say a better idea, but I think it’s a more fun idea: then they still get to have all the same flavor that you’re having, and none of the hangover. So, really, they’re winning. (laugh)

I would just keep in mind, as somebody who mixed drinks for a couple of years: when you do make a mocktail, do not make it exactly as you would a cocktail, minus the alcohol. Especially in things like daiquiris and margaritas, where they call for simple syrup or an excessive amount of sugar: I would take some of that away, because when you’re adding alcohol to a drink, you really need more sugar to counteract how bitter, especially things like rum and tequila, can be. And when you’re making a mocktail, there’s none of that bitterness to counteract the sweetness. So you don’t want to end up with something that’s just… a sugar bomb, that’s just gonna give you a stomach-ache.

But I feel like especially virgin daiquiris are really great to make, they’re really tasty, and you can actually take the leftovers, put them in your freezer and turn them into popsicles.

 

ALLY

And let’s imagine there are a few people drinking via Skype or on the phone. How do we make it more fun if they are far away from each other?

 

DAVE

Send them a gift of alcohol! (laugh) And then, when they get it, you can have the same thing, and there you go!

 

SEMPI

So, I… Yeah, I think to try to make the same cocktail — especially if you’re doing it over Skype, and if one of you is maybe not so handy in the kitchen, maybe even kitchen-cursed — watching them make their own cocktail… That can be the event — maybe you don’t even need to drink after that, you’re already happy.

 

ALLY

Oh yeah. And as David is a maestro of cocktails and he has his own podcast “Gentleman of Elegant Leisure”, I think he has a few good recipes to share.

DAVE

Well, there’s one I picked out, and it’s from an e-book we have on my podcast’s website, it’s called “7 Rare Cocktails That Taste Great” — and the cocktail’s from about 1939, and it’s just three ingredients: so, you take 1 oz of gin, 1 oz of Swedish punch…

And I’ll just explain a little bit more about the Swedish punch because it’s not all that well-known, but it’s a type of liqueur, and it’s popular in Sweden, Finland, and it’s got either brandy or rum in it, with lemonade, spices, sugar, and water. And if you can’t find that, you can always substitute Swedish punch with brandy or rum, because it’s already in Swedish punch — so that’s a good alternative, it’s probably more common to have rum or brandy on your cocktail bar shelf.

And then you add 1 oz of grape juice — so, 1 oz gin, 1 oz Swedish punch, 1 oz grape juice. And then you shake the ingredients in an ice cocktail shaker, and then you strain it into a chilled cocktail glass. So, it’s very easy to make, it’s got all the same proportions, so you can’t really mess it up too bad, and if you want that or more cocktails, you can go to our website — we’ve got the e-book for free, just go to www.gentlemenofelegantleisure.com.

 

ALLY

Such an interesting topic! And by the way, what is the cocktail, which is relatively easy to make but certainly worth making for everyone? Something totally new and unusual?

 

DAVE

Well, one of my favorites — and I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily easy to make, but it’s not hard — it’s certainly ingredients that you can… Yeah, it’s called a Bufala Negra: so, you take 1.5 oz of bourbon, you take 4 basil leaves, a brown sugar cube, and then 0.5 oz of balsamic syrup, which I’ll explain in a minute, and then 2 oz of ginger beer.

So then you just muddle the balsamic syrup, and basil, and the sugar cube in a mixing can, and then you add the bourbon and ice, and shake it hard, and strain it over ice cubes into an Old Fashioned glass, and then top it with ginger beer to whatever your tolerance for ginger beer is, and then you can garnish it with a basil leaf.

 

So, the balsamic syrup is really easy — you just take ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar and ¼ of simple syrup, which is just sugar water, sort of a 1:1 ratio, and just put it in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring it to a boil — you let it reduce a bit, and let it simmer for at least a minute, stirring it occasionally, and then take it off, away from the heat and then let it cool to room temperature — and then you can add it into the cocktail as needed.

It’s not that well-known, the Bufalo Negra — I think it’s a really good cocktail, it’s not too strong, so I think people who like a sweeter cocktail might like this as well. That’s also in our book as well, the Bufala Negra.

Yeah, and ginger beer, actually, is a good ingredient for quite a few cocktails — we’ve used ginger beer quite a bit over the course of our show, so it’s always a good thing to have in stock.

 

ALLY

I got interested! Will certainly make it at home. And for or our dear listeners not to lose these amazingly striking cocktail recipes, we will leave all the links for them on our blog and in the description. Or you can visit Gentlemen of Ellegant Leisure.com and check them out directly.

 

ALLY

David and Sempi, thank you so much for coming, it was a real pleasure to talk to you. Stay tuned for your next episode of Long Distance Short in a month’s time.

 

Thanks for listening to “Long Distance Short” — GiftBasketsOverseas.com’s podcast with real people in real long-distance relationships. Make sure to subscribe, and keep tuning in for a new episode every month. If you have any questions or ideas for a future podcast, make sure to drop us a line at [email protected] — that’s [email protected]

 

Links mentioned in the podcast episode:

 

Dave’s podcast: http://www.gentlemenofelegantleisure.com/

The Bufala Negra cocktail recipe: http://www.gentlemenofelegantleisure.com/episodes/archives/10-2016

FREE E-BOOK 7 Rare Cocktails That Taste Great: http://www.gentlemenofelegantleisure.com/free-book.html

The International Alcohol delivery company DrinkableGifts.com