Tips for staying sane in a pandemic from… Ampersand Distilling co-founder Jessica Schacht

The Vancouver Island entrepreneur tries to laugh during these times.

Credit: Courtesy of Jessica Schacht

The Vancouver Island entrepreneur tries to laugh during these times

Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Jessica Schacht is co-founder of Ampersand Distilling Co., a family-owned small-batch distillery in Duncan. She and her husband, Jeremy (an engineer by trade), launched the business because they share a love of craft cocktails. Ampersand uses only B.C.-grown wheat and natural spring water, sourced from the organic farm in which it stands, to make its spirits. The Schachts repertoire includes gin, vodka, dry vermouth and a green walnut liqueur. 

In the light of COVID-19, Ampersand is focusing its efforts not only on making small-batch spirits but also on producing hand sanitizer to serve the community and contribute to better health and safety. So far, the company has donated almost 1,000 litres of hand sanitizer to hospitals, doctors’ offices, shelters and other first responders. 

Here’s what Jessica (who also holds a theatre degree from UVic and spends her free time writing and producing plays) recommends doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

1. Keep to your routine as much as possible 

I’m a new mom (I have a three-month-old son), so I follow our daily routine and get my work done while he’s napping. Orders for the distillery need to be in every morning, Mondays we batch out, Tuesdays we FaceTime with grandparents. Now we also have hand sanitizer logistics we are covering as well.

2. But don’t try to do everything 

Be kind to yourself about your to-do lists—just because you may be home more doesn’t mean you’ll magically organize your entire house/write your novel/start that project. These are uncertain times, and being responsive to what the day brings is so important.

3. Stay active 

I’m five days into a 30 Days of Yoga Challenge, and taking that time each day to stretch makes such a huge difference. Getting outside for a walk in the woods by our house is a great way to get fresh air and stay away from crowds.

4. Watch funny things 

They say laughter is the best medicine, so I’ve been making sure to choose comedies (Schitt’s Creek and The Good Place are current favourites) for TV time. Bonus points for live-texting with a friend while you watch.

5. Virtual cocktail hour 

Choose a cocktail, you and your friends both make it, and give each other a call! We’ve done this with friends over Facetime, and it’s a nice way to stay in touch and make sure your Friday night is still special. Simple favourites are the Bee’s Knees (gin, honey, lemon) and martinis (gin and vermouth).