A bottle of Backdoor Bodega’s Pfizermeister brew. Photo: Mohd RASFAN / AFP
While scientists study the effects of mixing COVID-19 jabs for booster shots, an innovative bar on the Malaysian island of Penang is serving up their own mix-and-match cocktails named after major vaccine brands.
Like other bars across the world, Backdoor Bodega had to adapt as the pandemic shut down borders and cut off foot traffic in the vibrant island’s historic Georgetown.
The owners switched to packaged cocktail orders as a way to survive, and came up with the idea of the vaccine-themed drinks as the pandemic dragged on in Malaysia. “Our boredom boosters are formulated with proven efficiency to combat and eliminate any pandemic-induced lockdown boredom and sobriety,” a colorful online drinks menu read.
There’s Sinosour (a play on China’s Sinovac vaccine), ExtraGineca (named after the AstraZeneca shot and combining a potent blend of gin and dry bitters) and the Pfizermeister, an obvious reference to the Pfizer vaccine.
The drinks cost around $8 and are available by delivery—part of a successful business strategy that has helped the bar avoid closure at a crucial time when many businesses folded.
“We’re thankful that cocktail deliveries have been sufficient to sustain our overheads over the past year,” said owner and bartender Koh Yung Shen, who added that the lack of in-person interaction has taken away from the experience of running a bar.
Employees at Penang cocktail bar Backdoor Bodega prepare vaccine-inspired cocktails. Photo: Mohd RASFAN / AFP
Countries across Southeast Asia have seen surges in cases due to the highly infectious delta variant, though many of the steep increases have plateaued in recent weeks.
Malaysia is seeing a drop in the number of daily COVID-19 infections and has begun easing restrictions for fully vaccinated citizens as the country prepares for post-pandemic living.
More than two million people have been infected with the coronavirus in Malaysia, and the country has recorded around 21,600 deaths. More businesses have been permitted to resume operations as part of the government’s national recovery plan, but some experts warn that it might be too early for the country to let its guard down.
Penang still has some way to go before it’s back to its pre-virus buzz.
“Unfortunately, the nightlife and bar scene currently here in Penang is almost non-existent, with most bars forced to operate as restaurants to stay afloat and abide by government regulations,” Koh said.
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