Havant cocktail queen keeps spirits up during lockdown
For most people there hasn't been much to celebrate over the past three months.
But lockdown has brought about a rather unexpected twist of fate for 22-year-old Bryony Bastable who is now the toast of thousands of cocktail lovers.
For despite having never worked in a bar, Bryony, from Havant, has become a huge Instagram hit, racking up thousands of followers who wait with baited breath for her latest recipe for everything from Caribbean Melonballs, to Pina Coladas, and Tequila Sunrises.
It is a far cry from March when she was – admittedly – moping around wondering what she was going to do with her life.
She explains: ‘When we went into lockdown I was completely shocked. It was a time of big transition for my boyfriend and I. We had just moved in with my mum and stepdad so I could save money to do a masters in security management and intelligence because I wanted a career in counter terrorism.
‘We were used to having our own space in our own house but were so lucky we moved home when we did. ‘There is no way we could have paid the rent with us both furloughed – Russell is an estate agent and I work at Tommy Hilfiger in Gunwharf.
‘When lockdown began, me and mum were getting under each other’s feet. I felt really overwhelmed. There was no space. I really, really struggled because I was so bored.’
On a shopping trip to Asda, Bryony bought ingredients to make a cocktail and shared the result with friends on her Instagram page.
She says: ‘I really missed going out for cocktails with my friends so I made a simple Malibu, coconut cream and pineapple juice. I didn’t even have a cocktail shaker so I used a tub but it tasted really nice. The next one I made and shared was a Pornstar Martini. I started researching recipes and found more ingredients.’
The reaction she had online was so good she set up an Instrgram page dedicated to her new hobby called _quarantinedcocktails.
Within days she had thousands of followers. ‘The response was overwhelming’, says Bryony. ‘I realised there was nothing else out there like it. People can order takeaways but they can’t order a cocktail – so I show them how to make them at home.
‘There is nothing fancy or expensive about them. I only use ingredients that you can buy at the supermarket. You do not have to spend a lot of money to make the perfect cocktail – a plastic tub instead of a cocktail shaker will do.
‘And I always make up my own recipes by giving a twist to classic cocktails.’
People began asking if she did deliveries but the local council gave a Bryony a firm ‘no’ when she asked for a licence. So she found a way around it. ‘There is no law about giving cocktails away and in my first giveaway 10,000 people entered. I just couldn’t believe it was so popular.’ The lucky winner was over the moon.
The cocktails have even brought families together. ‘I had a message from a lady who said her daughter was stuck on a cruise ship and gets really homesick when she watches her making the cocktail recipes I put on Instagram’, says Bryony.
‘So she bought her mum a cocktail making kit on Amazon and now they make them together when I put the recipes up. They even asked me to write a book!
‘So many birthday parties, weddings and celebrations have been cancelled, so people are doing their best to recreate them at home using my cocktails and they tag me in the pictures.
‘It has felt like I have been part of their celebrations.’
It’s a family affair with boyfriend Russell Pratt supporting Bryony with perfecting the recipes and taking the stylish pictures.
She says: ‘I always explain that I’m not a professional, this isn’t my job. I only started doing it to help people through lockdown.’
Although Bryony loves her job with Tommy Hilfiger she is also now planning to open a cocktail stall to take to weddings and hen parties once lockdown is over and is rethinking the masters degree.
She says: ‘Sometimes I have to pinch myself to check that this is all really happening.
‘The world is going crazy right now and social media is a horrible place. I’m just providing some light in the darkness and we will have to see where the future takes me.’