This article is a part of The Growler’s Outdoor Guide. Find more tips for outdoor adventure and dining here.
If you’re going camping, you can nip on a 1.75 of whatever whiskey you can find in a plastic handle and that’s a perfectly respectable way to get three sheets to the warming summer wind.
But if you’re feeling a little extra—and goodness knows we spirits writers tend to feel a little extra in these situations—you might be thinking about bringing a batch of cocktails along in your water bottle. A few things to consider:
The ice problem: You don’t want to lug a cooler full of cocktail ice over a multi-rod portage (much less the glassware to use it) but a good mixed cocktail has a certain measure of diluted water per drink. It’s hard to say what that measure is; 25% by volume is often mentioned, but it’s not exactly that for every drink, and it depends on your personal taste. A great way to figure it out: weigh the liquor for your favorite cocktail on an accurate scale, make the cocktail, and weigh the liquid again. The difference is the diluted ice, and you can scale that accordingly.
Stirred, not shaken: Stick to the drinks that don’t rely on a heavy shake. Sours, flips, anything with eggs or lots of citrus—don’t bother. Target a drink that is 100 percent spirit-driven: Manhattans, Negronis, and the like. There are several good combos to be had with a single spirit and an herbal liqueur—try bourbon and Benedictine or rye and Cynar. Don’t forget bitters.
The professional choice: Several distilleries are selling pre-batched cocktails now. Drain a glass bottle of Tattersall Bootlegger into your water bottle and bring along a couple plastic bottles of club soda to top it off. Dashfire’s line of bottled Old Fashioneds are already properly diluted—just pour it in the Nalgene and keep it cold.
Chill: Take advantage of nature’s chest cooler—tie a line to the handle of your water bottle and drop it in the lake.
Recipe for Nalgene Negroni
Based on a drier 2:1:1 Negroni. Use your favorite proportions and multiply by the same factor. Makes 6–8 cocktails—but it’s the outdoors. Who’s counting?
13 ounces gin
6½ ounces sweet vermouth
6½ ounces Campari
A dozen and a half good dashes of orange bitters
6 ounces distilled water
Variations: Swap gin for cognac and the sweet vermouth for Dolin blanc. Or, swap the gin for reposado tequila.