Hot Drinks for Cold Camping-Mixology for the Winter Backcountry

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Kickstands & Kevlar is a blog hosted by Overland Expo’s own Motorcycle Community Ambassador, Eva Rupert.

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National Hot Toddy Day is on January 11th, so it seemed appropriate to share two of my favorite hot, boozy beverages for your winter campsite. Best savored after a day of brisk exploring, hot cocktails are somehow extra soothing. Science might even suggest that warm alcohol hits you differently because it’s closer to body-temperature or that heat facilitates faster absorption through your stomach lining. That said, I’m a mixologist and motorcyclist, not a scientist, so all I can guarantee is that these are darn delicious after a long day of exploring. Share, sip, enjoy and be prepared to get invited to every camping trip from here on out.

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Water Bottle Glühwein 

Also fondly referred to as, Pannier Vino Caliente, GeländeStraße Glögg (GS Grog for short), Hi-Lift Vin Brulé, Backpack Bisschopswijn… nothing says winter camping trip like spiced warm wine. 

To put this drink in context for all the world-travelling (or wish we were world-travelling) overlanders out there, the Vin Chaud has a globe-trotting history. Regarded as a health tonic in Ancient Greece and B.C. Egypt, a classic winter warmer in Victorian Europe, and then there’s the Chilean version known as Navagado (think boats bobbing on the ocean as oranges will in your glühwein). Basically, you can drink your way around the world without leaving the comfort of your campsite. 

You’ll need:

  • 1 750ml Bottle of Cheap Red Wine (Yellowtail Shiraz is my go-to but anything dry and under $8.99 will do) 

  • 8oz Brandy 

  • ¼ Cup Sugar, Honey, or Maple Syrup (bump it up to ⅓ if you’ve got a real sweet tooth)

  • 1 Orange

  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks

  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cinnamon

  • Extras could include star anise, cloves, and cardamom for infusing and lemon for garnishing

Before you head out for your overnighter, fill your hip-flask with brandy, and dig out your least-favorite water bottle (you know, the one where the opening is too big so you spill every time you take a sip, or the one that got usurped by a high-tech vacuum-sealed version). Basically any vessel will work, as long as the lid seals tight, just be aware that the mulled wine can stain some types of plastic. 

Slice the orange into 8 wedges, remove the peel and rinds (leaving those on will make things a bit too bitter after a day of bumping around in your pack), and toss the orange into the bottle along with the chosen sweetener and cinnamon sticks. Pour your wine in, seal it up and hit the road. The jostling during off-road riding will speed up the intermingling of flavors. So while you’re out exploring, all that fruity, spicy goodness is working its magic on the cheap wine.

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When you get to your campsite, stoke the fire, tuck your long underwear into your wool socks, and pour the whole bottle of grapey goodness into a pan. Again, I’m not a scientist, but alcohol decreases dramatically by boiling and that would make for a lame nightcap. So, tune your Jetboil to a simmer and make sure you don’t cook off the booze. Once it’s all warmed up, pour it into the cups and pass the flask around for topping with a 1/2oz of brandy and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Cheers to that!

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RTW Toddy 

Another trans-global cocktail with a long history, a plethora of variations, and a bunch of stuff that’s actually good for you, the Hot Toddy is a round-the-world crowd pleaser. 

The origins of the toddy are as murky as the bottom of a bourbon barrel, but it most likely has something to do with damp Northern Europe and less-than-stellar Scotch whiskey. The name may come from the Indian word Taadi, referring to the fermented palm-sap liquor. It’s also possible that it might also refer to the Todian Spring or Tod’s Well that supplied the water for Edinburgh. 

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Whatever the history may be, the beverage is darn delicious and, basically, the duct tape of drinks. That is, the Toddy is good for everything. It works for warming up after a blustery day in the wilderness. It helps with congestion, colds, and sore throats. Using local honey can offset allergies to the pollens of the region. Sip one before bed to facilitate a good night’s sleep, but do be aware of your alcohol intake, please. Too much booze can disrupt the circadian rhythms and mess with your mojo the next day, especially when consumed at altitude.

Not that you needed another reason to bring some whiskey with you on your travels, but here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 8oz Hot Water

  • 1 Tea Bag (ginger is my go-to for an extra spicy kick)

  • 2oz Bourbon, Rye, or Scotch

  • 1 Tbsp Honey 

  • ¼ Lemon (that leaves ¾ of a lemon to share this drink with your friends!)

Just boil up your water and pour it over the teabag in your mug. Don’t fill them too full because you have to save space for the booze and lemon. Discard the teabag after a couple minutes of steeping. Give the lemon a healthy squeeze and toss the whole thing in there, along with a big spoonful of honey. Give it a stir, pour your spirit on top, and be prepared to live a long, healthy life.

Sláinte! Na zdravy!   Salud!

Sláinte! Na zdravy! Salud!

It’s a well-known fact that consuming alcohol and attempting any sort of vehicle-based activity is a terrible idea (not to mention, illegal). Save these boozy treats for the post-adventure campsite with your kickstand fully down, tent pitched, and fire stoked for an evening of hanging with friends — preferably someplace beautiful and remote.

Photo by Brett Willhelm


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