When sitting around a campfire at night after a fun day of hiking, swimming, and setting up your tent, nothing goes quite as well as your favorite beer, wine, or whiskey. But sometimes you just want to toast a cocktail while blackening those puffs of white marshmallow goodness.
When I'm camping, I prefer a good, stirred whiskey drink. Not everyone keeps the ingredients for complex cocktails in their home (or outdoor) bar. And when you are hiking into the camp site, you don't want to be saddled with a ton of extra ingredients to carry around. That said, an Old Fashioned is an excellent whiskey cocktail that is very easy to create and doesn't take a massive investment to make just one (or two...). The Old Fashioned consists of only three ingredients: whiskey, bitters, and sugar. You could add other yummy ingredients, such as lemon or orange peel, but they aren't absolutely necessary.
If whiskey isn't your thing, or you're just more in the mood for a lakeside or boat drink cocktail, then I would recommend a tasty Gimlet or Daiquiri. Again, this is an excellent yet simple way to create cocktails requiring only three ingredients: spirit, sugar, and lime juice. You can always tweak these basic recipes to add some new (and perhaps foraged) flavor. Find some fresh berries on the trail? Stumble upon some mountain mint? Throw 'em in the mix!
Before we get into the cocktail recipes, there are a few helpful tips to remember when preparing adult beverages for the campsite.
TIP #1: Use your water bottle as a cocktail shaker! It is a cocktail MacGyver trick I have implemented more than a couple times, and won't require you to bring colanders or pourers. Packing the essentials is key, and you really don’t have to bring along a bunch of extra bar tools.
TIP #2: Pre-make your cocktails. Don't lug around heavy, bulky liquor bottles if you don't need to. Pre-making your cocktails will save space in your pack or cooler. Plus, sometimes it's nice to have your campfire cocktails mixed and ready once you've reached your destination!
A few recipe ideas:
- 2oz your favorite whiskey
- 2-3 dashes of angostura bitters
- A [normal] spoonful of fine sugar (not a soup spoon) or rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
Stir all ingredients with ice and squeeze in a lemon wedge.
Gimlet / Daiquiri:
- 2oz white spirit (gin, vodka, rum)
- 3/4oz fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
- 1 spoonful of sugar
Shake with ice.
Camping and cocktails go hand-in-hand. And while you may be roughing it on the trail, that doesn't mean you need to drink poorly. I encourage you to experiment with your favorite cocktails at the campsite, find out what local fruits and berries are around, and spice up your camp libations!
Patrick has been bartending for almost 10 years in different locations throughout California, Hawaii & Australia. Being an avid outdoorsman from a very young age, he has spent a great deal of time exploring the world that surrounds us. Patrick can currently be found behind the bar working his cocktail magic at Churchill Lounge - 198 Church Street, San Francisco.
Photo By Kirby Stenger