5 Easy Camping Cocktails
Like whiskey with your campfire? Spice up your evenings with these perfect-for-camping bourbon cocktails…
While there’s nothing wrong with a little nip of bourbon from your flask now and then, there’s no reason to miss out on real-deal cocktails while you’re camping. All you need – besides a camp kit that includes coffee, sugar, lemonade, a cooler of ice (and maybe an orange) – is some creativity, a small bottle of bitters, and of course bourbon. I like Old Forester for mixing but pack a bottle of your own favorite.
For inspiration, I chatted with Louisville bartender Jared Schubert, who runs Camp Run Amock—a summer camp for bartenders. Here are five ways to enjoy your bourbon under the stars.
Caffeine + bourbon = win
Why not kick up your campfire coffee with a splash of bourbon? It’s quick, it’s easy, and if you have some cream, you can call it a poor man’s Irish Whisky. If not, you can just call it awesome.
Go with a classic
The Old Fashioned may be trumped up in fancy bars, but if you’ve got bitters, sugar, and water, you’re golden. Add about half an ounce of cold water (maybe spring water?) to a bit of sugar and slug of bourbon, then a couple dashes of bitters. Stir it in your drinking vessel with your camp spoon and voila.
A garnish is not necessary for a camp cocktail, Jared tells me, but if you brought oranges along for a healthy snack, swipe a little peel from one and you’ve classed up your campside bar.
Look around you
One of my fondest memories of camping on the Rogue River a couple of years ago was eating wild blackberries straight from the bush. If only I’d had bourbon! Jared says you can find any number of cocktail ingredients if you look around for what’s edible and flavorful. Think mint you can muddle with a fork, or stinging nettle for an herbaceous, bitter kick.
For a Blackberry Smash, pick a bunch of berries and shake them over ice with a couple ounces of whiskey and a bit of sugar. Got mint? Even better, but not necessary. What’s more sublime on a warm summer night?
When life gives you lemons …
Any proper campsite should have lemonade on hand. And hopefully you’re making pancakes for breakfast, so you’ll also have a stash of maple syrup (or honey, or sorghum). Bam! You’ve got yourself a Maple Leaf: a couple fingers of bourbon, a pour of lemonade, a drizzle of syrup. Give it a good stir and serve on ice if you like.
When the night gets chilly, try a cousin of that afternoon delight and make a Hot Toddy. It couldn’t be simpler. Boil some water; add a healthy pour of whiskey; and stir in honey or syrup, or even sugar if that’s all you’ve got. If a toddy in your book needs a squeeze of lemon juice, just add a dash of lemonade and call it a night.
Photos: James Saunders (top), O.A.R.S. (bottom)