You’re not driving anywhere tonight. There’s no staff meeting waiting for you tomorrow morning. You’re camping. If you’ve got the years to make it legal and the bottle opener to make it possible, crack one open and toast the sunset as a group.
The best alcohol for your trip is, of course, a matter of taste. If it fits your budget and quenches your thirst, go for it. Not sure what you should be sipping after you clink canteens? Here are some recommendations for booze to take camping.
Happy hour is serious business on a big annual summer campout I attend, and there’s always wine on the table. Fellow campers tend to uncork bottles of white, red, and rosé for sharing in the hour or so before dinner, and champagne makes an appearance for special occasions: birthdays, engagements, etc.
We tried some more unusual wines on a recent trip, sipping it from cans, plastic cups, boxes, and even a pre-filled goblet.
The boxed wines were a favorite—the Rex Goliath chardonnay, in particular—though the Underwood pinot-noir-in-a-can improved as it breathed in the mountain air, just like anybody would. The pre-gobleted Fetzer Quartz reminded me of mead more than the 2011 white blend it was, but I like honey wine, so that didn’t bother me. We brought most of this wine for the novelty of it, an element seen primarily in the stackable pinot grigio cups we plan to re-use on future trips.
Our regular go-to wines for camping—selected for their drinkability, but lower cost—are Grifone, Three Wishes, and a red blend from Oreana Winery, which features nothing but an orange question mark for name.
This may be the official adult beverage of camping. Fat Tire, Red Tail, and 805 are a welcome addition to any campfire—not too fancy, not too basic. I like Guinness and oatmeal or chocolate stouts, but those are just so heavy, especially if it’s hot or humid, so I might pop open a Newcastle. We brought a box of Gold Brick pale ale on our most recent trip, and it went over well.
Homemade cocktails win happy hour hands down each year. Summer of 2016 saw two favorites: a “cheater” margarita my mom made with Squirt, tequila, and limes, and a key lime pie martini my friend shook up in a repurposed box wine bag, served with crushed graham crackers around the rim of your cup.
Bring along some cans of Izze soda for mixers. Tangerine goes well with tequila, blackberry pairs with gin, and green apple is perfect for bourbon. But don’t underestimate the allure of drinking something on the rocks (if you have ice to spare) or even neat. I love a dram or two of Talisker scotch with nothing else. It has a peaty flavor that pairs well with campfire smoke. On the opposite end of the taste spectrum is limoncello, perfect for sipping with or without s’mores.
A few tips:
• If you’re like most people, you need to push yourself to drink enough water while in the wilderness. Be sure to stay plenty hydrated if you have a drink or two around the campfire.
• Go slow. The water you sweated out during the day, the difference in what your body is used to in terms of altitude and oxygen levels—it can all make a couple of swigs or shots at the campsite an unknown in terms of how they’ll hit you.
• Be responsible. Unwind. Relax. Maybe get a little buzz. Don’t go crazy. Overdoing it can lead to a horrific morning after, especially if you’re in the passenger seat on a winding road as you head back to civilization. I still get queasy at the memory, so learn from my mistake. Too much can also lead to dangerous behavior, so don’t mix rock jumping with your cocktails. Make sure everybody stays conscious and having a good, safe time so you can all do it again later.