5 Drinks for Backcountry Bartenders

Passing around the flask makes you a good friend. Whipping up one of these wilderness-ready cocktails from top bartenders? That makes you a legend.
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mixed drinks

Class up any camp with plastic cocktail cups from GSI Outdoors (Photo by Ben Fullerton).

Treeline Negroni

Tad Hamilton, head bartender at Montgomery Distillery in Missoula, Montana, recommends a juniper-heavy gin (plug: Montgomery’s Whyte Laydie) to elevate this botanical Italian aperitif. Serves 2

2 oz. gin
2 oz. sweet vermouth
2 oz. Campari

At home: Premix ingredients in a water bottle or flask.
In camp: Chill in a stream or snowbank, then pour two equal portions.

Campfire Sazerac

To make this spicy, herby New Orleans classic backcountry-friendly, Hamilton skips the usual sugar-muddling step in favor of a DIY simple syrup. Serves 2

4 oz. rye whiskey
2 oz. rich Demerara syrup (see below)
½ tsp. absinthe
10 dashes aromatic bitters

At home: Make the rich Demerara syrup: Heat 1 part water in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and add 2 parts Demerara sugar (a partially refined sugar with caramel notes); stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool in the refrigerator. When syrup is cold, combine all ingredients in a flask or water bottle.
In camp: Chill in a stream or snowbank, then pour two equal portions.

Mountain Margarita

Make sure to use 100-percent de agave tequila for the best citrusy flavors. Recipe from Michael Cerretani, beverage director at Denver’s Session Kitchen. Serves 2

3 oz. 100-percent de agave tequila
1 lime
1.5 oz. Cointreau

At home: Combine tequila and Cointreau.
In camp: Chill booze mixture. Squeeze 1.5 oz. fresh lime juice into the bottle. Shake and drink.

Fir-Tip Fizz

Look for new, bright-green spring and summer growth on evergreen tree branches to make the citrusy syrup base for this refreshing cocktail, says Iso Rabins, founder of ForageSF, a foraging school and supper club in San Francisco. Gather needles from several trees to minimize impact. Serves 4

25 fir or spruce tips, washed in filtered water
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
8 oz. vodka
8.5 oz. soda water

At home: Make the syrup: Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and whisk until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add fir tips, and steep at least 8 hours. Strain out tips and chill. When cold, combine 8 Tbsp. syrup and vodka in a flask or water bottle.
In camp: Chill bottle, then pour equal portions of syrup-vodka mixture into 4 cups. Top with soda water and garnish with a fresh fir sprig.

High Country Hot Buttered Rum

A campfire isn’t your only option for warming up on a chilly alpine night. Prefreezing this mix will keep it fresh for several days in your pack. Recipe by Dana Velden, author of Finding Yourself in the Kitchen, via TheKitchn.com. Serves 4

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
Dash freshly ground pepper
Pinch cloves
Pinch salt
8 oz. dark rum

At home: Make buttered rum mix: In a large bowl, cream all ingredients except rum together with an electric mixer or wooden spoon. Place mix on a sheet of waxed paper and shape into a log, twist ends of paper to seal, and chill in the fridge until firm. Slice into 8 equal pieces, rewrap each individually, and place four in a zip-top bag (save the other four for later). Freeze.
In camp: If slices haven’t already softened, warm them in your hands, then unwrap each slice and place in a cup. Add 2 oz. rum to each and top with boiling water to taste. Stir and drink.