A tasty cocktail in camp is a great ending to a good day on the trail. We consulted backcountry-savvy bartenders for their top recipes and tested dozens of varieties of beer, wine, and liquor to find the most pack-friendly picks.
Beta Potent and lightweight, liquor is the time-honored backpacking libation. And while the scientific evidence is mixed, some stuides have suggested that drinking alcohol in moderation benefits the heart and circulatory system and protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Whiskey, scotch, cognac, and brandy also contain antioxidants. Forgot the hand sanitizer? One hundred-plus-proof liquor kills germs.
Packing We like the tried-and-true Stanley Classic Flask (on sale for $19 at Moosejaw now), but any light bottle will do.
Cooking Simmer a dash of scotch or whiskey with a pinch of salt to drizzle on meats for a smoky taste, or add a tablespoon or two of fruit brandy to a sweet-and-sour stir-fry.
Top pick High West Distillery Rendezvous Rye ($50) is spicy and warm.
Beta On short trips, a river-cooled brew after a hot day is worth its weight. Perks: Up to 1 percent of beer’s weight comes from dietary fiber (seriously), and a serving supplies 10 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin B.
Packing Two 12-ounce cans of beer weigh 1.5 pounds. Make up for it by leaving your wallet, excess food packaging, a camp pillow, and extra cooking pot at home.
Cooking Add a splash or two of dark beer to hearty stews for a sweet kick, or sub a mild lager for water in pancake batter.
Top picks Leave the Bud in the store (or in the trash): Melvin Heyzeus Mexican-Style Lager is an easy-drinking brew that pairs well with hot summer weather. For hops-lovers, Upslope’s India Pale Ale is a balanced, classic approach to the style.
Beta Studies show antioxidants in red grapes reduce the risk of heart disease, lower levels of harmful cholesterol, limit blood clotting, and, when consumed with a high-fat meal, reduce blood vessel inflammation.
Packing Our go-to tote: the Platypreserve wine pouch ($10; 27 fl. oz.). Alternative: boxed wines.Cooking “Deglaze the pan to make tasty wine reductions,” says Anthony Giglio, FOOD & WINE Connoisseur Club Wine Expert. After cooking a meal like fresh trout, pour a splash of wine into the hot pan to loosen any flavorful bits left in the bottom; simmer until reduced and pour over pasta or meats.
Top picks Black Box’s Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) packs strong aromas of vanilla bean and raspberry with a smooth finish. Pair with meat dishes or dessert.
Be smart: Guzzling too much in the backcountry is extra stupid. Alcohol makes acclimatizing to altitude harder, causes dehydration, and impairs judgment. Sip wisely.
Take your camp cocktails to the next level with these tips from Crystal Sagan, owner of 3 Chicks Bartending and our Backcountry Bartender.
Pack: “Pour fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice, simple syrup, or premixed cocktails into small juice bottles and freeze. They’re not as messy.”
Infuse: “Pick berries on the trail and soak them in vodka overnight for a fruity flavor. Or try infusing with fresh herbs for added complexity in your cocktail.”
Experiment: “You’d be surprised at all the lightweight options out there, like sparkling wine in a can (Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs) and mini bottles of flavored bitters (The Bitter Truth Travel Pack).”
Cool it: Dig into snowbanks or glaciers to gather clean snow. Chill wine or beer by submerging in a river or stream (in swift water, place drinks in a stuffsack and tie the sack to a tree or rock on shore).
Bonus: Use Wine to Help You Sleep Better
Inflate your empty plastic wine bag and use it as a pillow. (Not for use in bear country.)