June 04 2020
Tired of hauling lukewarm wine and beer dozens of miles? Or just trying to mellow out that fifth of whiskey in a warmer evening? Some mixed drinks for camping sound like a great idea, but considering space and weight for camping cocktails is something of a balance.
We’ve come up with nine of our favorite backpacking cocktails, organized from simplest to most complicated. Some of them get fancy, others remind us of drinking in high school. Regardless, these nine ideas are sure to quench your thirst (and maybe impress some friends) in the backwoods.
Cocktail Making Gear You Should Consider
Some easy camping cocktails don’t require a lot of gear, but rather things you may already have in your pantry. These are great because they don’t weigh much nor take a lot of time to prep.
If you’re trying to impress a certain someone, these cocktails will go a little farther than some spiked Gatorade. You may need to bring that camping cocktail set and do some prep work at home, even testing some of these out before debuting them to your friends or significant other.
Like playing drinking games? Try some of our favorite camp fire drinking games.
Here are Our 9 Most Essential Backpacking Cocktail Recipes
1. Hobo Jacket
This cocktail was made up during a seven-day trip the Cascades with a few friends, largely due to a lack of ingredients. It’s essentially a whiskey shot with a hot sauce chaser, but it will keep you warm in those nights where the temperature drops.
• 2 oz. Bourbon
• Hot sauce (habanero recommended)
i. Place two drops of hot sauce on separate fingers
ii. Drink one drop of hot sauce
iii. Take shot of bourbon
iv. Chase with other drop of hot sauce
v. Repeat until warm
2. Snake in the Grass
Something of a classic from Outdoors Voyager, this simple cocktail will keep you refreshed after a long day of hiking and won’t be too strenuous to make. Be sure to go easy on the Crème de Menthe, unless you’re crazy about it.
• 2 oz. Vodka
• ½ oz. Crème de Menthe
• 5 oz. Lemon-lime Gatorade
i. Place all three in a glass or Nalgene
ii. Stir or shake until mixed
3. Hot Toddies
This winter warmer is great for cooler nights at higher altitudes. Tea bags are also incredibly light and practically unnoticeable in your pack. If you’re looking to add a little more flavor, spiced apple cider packets are a bonus or substitute maple syrup for honey!
• 5 oz. whiskey
• 1 tea bag (Lemon-ginger preferred)
• 2 lemon wedges
• Optional: 1 spiced apple cider packets
• Optional: 2 cinnamon sticks
• Optional: 1.5 oz. honey (or sub maple syrup)
i. Place tea bags in water and bring water to a boil
ii. Kill heat
iii. Squeeze lemon juice and drop rind in mixture
iv. Add whiskey (and other optional items). Stir for several minutes until ready.
v. Serve and drink. Get Creative These camping drink recipes require a little ingenuity, whether it’s mixing strange concoctions or using the nature around you, foraging for fruit and even ice to cool off your glass.
4. Spiked Arnold Palmers
From 99 Boulders, this recipe is a take on a classic refreshing beverage, higher up in the mountains. Not feeling the whiskey? Sub vodka for something lighter.
• 12 oz. of water
• 2 oz. whiskey
• 1 to-go packet of tea
• 1 to-go packet of lemonade
• Handful of ice/snow
i. Place water and ice/snow into a jar
ii. Add tea and lemonade and stir until blended
iii. Add whiskey and stir before serving
5. Mountain Margarita/Wild Berry Margarita
Purists might shake their heads at this one, but everything—camping margaritas included—tastes better in the mountains. If you’re trying to get crafty and get some mountaineer points, try foraging for some wild huckleberries or blackberries to add extra fruit flavor.
• 4 oz Lemon-lime Gatorade
• 6oz Tequila
• Handful of snow/ice
• 1 lime wedges.
• Optional: a handful of wild berries
i. Muddle wild berries at bottom of glass or Nalgene
ii. Add snow/ice. iii. Add Gatorade and Tequila. Stir/Shake
iv. Garnish with lime wedges and serve
6. Mintsummer Night’s Dream
Probably the best name of any cocktail on this list, this one might also be the freshest in profile too. From a reader on Backpacker.com, this cocktail only requires three ingredients for you to kick back in the woods.
• 4 oz. Gin
• 3 sprigs of mint
• A handful of wild berries
• Optional: ice/snow
i. Forage for wild berries
ii. Muddle wild berries and mint at bottom of glass
iii. Add gin & stir until ready
iv. Serve over ice/snow if you have it.
7. Spiced Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is a campfire staple. This trail cocktail takes a bit of a more grown-up approach and adds a little twist with some spice and bite to our sweet evening classic.
• 2 oz. tequila
• 8 oz. water
• 1 hot chocolate pack
• 1 marshmallow
• A dash (or two) of cayenne pepper
• 1 cinnamon sticks
i. Bring your water to a boil
ii. Serve into mugs, add the hot chocolate packs, and stir with cinnamon sticks until all the powder is broken up
iii. Add tequila and stir with the cinnamon stick
iv. Add marshmallow to float on top
v. Add a dash of cayenne pepper for a little heat and presentation points (cue Instagram shoot)
8. Campfire Sour
This is one of the best camping cocktails, as it takes whiskey—the classic fireside warmer—and adds citrus, some woodsy sweetness, and slight herbal notes. From Josh Williams at Hipcamp, this is a personal favorite. (Note: requires a jigger to measure out your ingredients.)
• 3 shots rye whiskey
• 1.5 shots fresh lemon juice
• 3/4 shot maple syrup
• 1 sprig rosemary (and 2 more to garnish)
• Handful of ice/snow
i. Add rye whiskey, maple syrup, and lemon juice to shaker
ii. Light sprig of rosemary on fire, and add to the shaker. Cap and seal shaker and let sit for thirty seconds so smoke can infuse
iii. Add snow/ice and shake for 15 seconds
iv. Strain over snow/ice & garnish with leftover rosemary
9. Spiced Rum Old Fashioned
An Old Fashioned without whiskey? It sounds like blasphemy, but the ambition and smoothness will wow your audience with this cold weather cocktail. Another wild one from Josh Williams and Eric Prum at Huckberry will not leave you unsatisfied.
• 4 shots aged rum
• 2 cubes cane sugar
• 10 dashes of aromatic bitters
• 2 cloves
• 1 stick of cinnamon (and 2 more to garnish)
• 2 strips of orange zest (and 2 more to garnish)
• Handful of ice/snow
i. Add sugar cubes and aromatic bitters to shaker
ii. Muddle the ingredients in the shaker until sugar has dissolved
iii. Add aged rum, orange zest, cinnamon, and cloves to shaker. Shake for thirty seconds and let it sit for another thirty seconds
iv. Add ice to above the level of the liquid. Stir for ten seconds
v. Strain the mixture over snow/ice and garnish with leftover cinnamon and orange zest.
Extra Tips for Making Cocktails While Camping
The camping cocktails game is still improving with more and more interest in the outdoors. Some innovators are going in different directions, bringing lightweight and space-conserving vibes to your outdoor bar.
• Pocket Cocktails: From Cherry-Infused Old Fashioned’s to Bloody Mary’s to Coconut-Lime Margaritas, Bar Country is aiding your drinking game in the mountains. All you need is the packet, water, and the pairing liquor to enjoy a nice mixed drink in nature.
• Pat’s Backcountry Beverages: This guy is making powdered beer for camping. With a pale ale and black IPA for your craft beer inclinations, this is the better alternative than hauling a six pack or growler into the woods and having to haul it back out. Be sure to use very, very cold water and distribute it proportionally: the extract is about 50% ABV.
Camping cocktails can be a daunting task, but it’s probably best to stick to one cocktail to bring into the mountain, or two if you’re feeling ambitious. There are many paths to go down, whether you want to keep it simple and not bring a lot of stuff, or go for that “wow” factor and prepare a tailored experience with a shaker, jigger, and the works.
Remember to pack out your waste and be careful with glass. National and State Parks aren’t very kind to heavy drinking, so please moderate your intake and hike responsibly. Did we leave out a few of your favorites? Let us know below! If you’re looking for a few more ideas for libations in the outdoors, check out the video below.