Post-Hike Beverages: Hot Trail Toddies

4 steamy drinks to spice up your after-dinner stargazing
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4 steamy drinks to spice up your after-dinner stargazing

Few camp comforts rival the warm glow of a fresh-brewed drink cascading down your throat and into your belly. Take a long swig, and the night air seems less cold, the wind calmer, and the stars brighter. Next time out, ditch the old tea bags and weak, sugary hot cocoa for one of the palate-pleasing recipes below. Whether you're toasting the end of a winter day or waking up to a crisp morning, these sweet potions will warm your stomach-and your attitude.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Dashes of cinnamon and salt give this sweet standby a savory twist.

1/3 cup brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup cocoa

2 1/2 cups powdered milk

At Home

Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag.

In Camp

Divide mix evenly into four mugs. Add boiling water and mix well.

Tip: You can substitute vanilla extract for powdered vanilla.

Mocha Espresso

Satisfy your caffeine and chocolate cravings with a sweet kick.

5 oz. semisweet chocolate (squares or bars)

3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder

1/2 cup instant espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

At Home

Shave chocolate with grater or sharp knife. Store 4 oz. with powdered milk, cinnamon, and espresso in zip-top bag, and the remainder in plastic wrap.

In Camp

Spoon 2 tablespoons espresso mix into a mug. Add 6 oz. boiling water; stir. Sprinkle the extra chocolate shavings on top, and serve.

Tip: Substitute dark roast instant coffee for espresso powder.

Mulled Wine

Wintry spices warm up an ordinary bottle of red.

5 teaspoons sugar

5 pinches of nutmeg

5 pinches of cinnamon

1 fresh lemon

1 bottle of bitters (flavoring derived from roots, barks, herbs, and berries)

1 bottle red wine

At Home

Place nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar into a zip-top bag. Pack lemon and bottle of bitters in a paper bag. Decant wine into hydration bladder or Lexan bottle.

In Camp

For each drink, simmer 5 oz. wine in a non-reactive pot (i.e., not unanodized aluminum; stainless steel with non-stick coatings are okay) with one teaspoon of the nutmeg mixture, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a dash of bitters.

Switchel Syrup

This old-fashioned infusion invigorates hot water, apple cider, and even whiskey, while adding a dose of electrolytes and stomach-settling ginger.

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup finely grated fresh ginger

At Home

Add ingredients to a pot, and bring to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let steep 15 minutes. Strain and pour the resulting syrup into a small Lexan bottle.

In Camp

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup to a mug of warm water or cider. It's also refreshing when mixed with cold water. Makes 5 cups.

Tip: Grate the ginger, skin and all.