5 Quick & Easy Backpacking Cocktails for Backcountry Boozing

After a long, rough day of getting lost in a desert canyon system, the only thing our backpacking group could talk about was how much we each wanted a drink. After setting up tents and falling into a disheveled heap around the campfire, we took inventory of all the liquor that was brought.

“I’ve got a couple minis of Glenlivet.”

“Yeah, there may be some Crown in this corner pocket.”

“Dude, who brought the Fireball?”

Slowly, we accumulated an arsenal of hard liquors in various flasks and mini bottles. But we soon realized that in our attempt to pack as minimalist as possible, none of us had brought anything to go along with them.

Shots all night? After the day we had?

“No thank you,” I said.

It wasn’t until the morning after that I truly swore off shots in the backcountry. But, I mean c’mon, I couldn’t give up liquor all together. So, I figured out some lightweight and simple backpacking cocktail recipes to spice up any adventure, especially on those nights you need it most. These are my five favorites.

5 Quick & Easy Backpacking Cocktails

  1. Cherry Vodka Punch
  2. Spiked Palmer
  3. The C{lime}b Crusher
  4. Mountain Coffee Buzz
  5. Summit Slammer Margarita

1. Cherry Vodka Punch

Unlike in politics, it’s okay to “drink the Kool-Aid” out here. Even if you accidentally buy the sugar-free garbage like I did, this is an extremely sweet and smooth drink that can chase any day of hiking, good or bad. It’s super easy to make and well worth your time. Consider it one of my summer favorites.

Prep Time: 1-2 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 to-go packet of Cherry Kool-Aid Drink Mix
  • 1 shot of your favorite vodka, carried in a flask or mini
  • 8 oz of water
  • Ice and/or snow
  • Juice of one quarter lemon

Cherry Vodka Punch ingredients

Instructions

1. Fill your camp mug or backpacking mug with 8 oz of water

Step 1 for the Cherry Vodka Punch

2. Pour in your Cherry Kool-Aid mix. If you aren’t a big fan of sweet, add a little at a time, tasting as you go. Stop when you’ve reached your desired level of sweetness.

Step 2 for the Cherry Vodka Punch

3. Give the mix a good stir with your camping spork

4. Pour 1 shot of vodka into the mix, or more…I’m not your mom

Step 4 for the Cherry Vodka Punch

5. Squeeze your quarter lemon into the cocktail and place it on the rim so you look cool

Step 5 for the Cherry Vodka Punch

6. Optional: Throw in a snowball for some cold mountain energy

Recipe Notes

Remember when Julian Smith prepped his brother some hot Kool-Aid back in 2009? And it ended up not being half-bad? Frankly, I think that’s disgusting, but I know people that disagree.

My point?

If you’re in for a cold night, maybe boil your concoction on the stove for a warm drink. Don’t blame me if it sucks, though.

Kimmy Schmidt meme

 

Cherry Vodka Punch

A sweet and smooth cocktail that can chase any day of hiking, good or bad.

  • 1 packet Powdered Cherry Kool-Aid drink mix
  • 1 shot Your favorite vodka (Carried in a mini or flask)
  • 8 oz water
  • 1 handful Ice and/or snow
  • 1 quarter lime
  1. Fill your camp mug with 8 oz of water
  2. Pour in your powdered Cherry Kool-Aid mix
  3. Give the mix a good stir with your camping spork
 

2. Spiked Palmer

Did you really think that I would put together a list of backpacking cocktails without using whiskey? I hope not. I’m old enough to know not to drink Fireball and the like, but young enough to still do it anyway. We used Crown Royal in this cocktail, but feel free to substitute with any other brand. (*cough* Fireball…)

Prep Time: 1-2 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 16 oz of water
  • 1 to-go packet of Country Time Lemonade
  • 1 to-go packet of AriZona Green Tea
  • 2 shots of whiskey (I dare you)
  • Ice and/or snow

Spiked Palmer ingredients

Instructions

1. Measure out and fill your cup with 16 oz of water + ice/snow

2. Perform a combo-pour of both of your delicious powdered drink mix packets. Add a little at a time and taste as you go. Stop when you’ve reached your desired level of sweetness. If it gets too sweet, you can always add more water.

Step 1 for the Spiked Palmer

3. Mix in the powder with your spork

4. Add 2 shots of whiskey and stir! Or one if you’re a baby…or don’t want to hike hungover.

Step 4 for the Spiked Palmer

Spiked Palmer

A backpacker-friendly, booze-infused take on an Arnold Palmer.

  • 16 oz water
  • 1 packet powdered Country Time Lemonade drink mix
  • 1 packet powdered AriZona Green Tea drink mix
  • 1-2 shots whiskey (depending on how strong you want it)
  • 1 handful ice and/or snow
  1. Measure out and fill your cup with 16 oz of water + ice/snow
  2. Perform a combo-pour of both of your delicious powdered drink mix packets. Add a little at a time and taste as you go. Stop when you’ve reached your desired level of sweetness. If it gets too sweet, you can always add more water.
  3. Mix in the powder with your spork
  4. Add 2 shots of whiskey and stir! Or one if you’re a baby…or don’t want to hike hungover.
 

3. The C{lime}b Crusher

Gin is my confidence liquor. It’s also my outdoor patio liquor. And my it’s-nice-outside-so-might-as-well liquor. I love gin. Gin goes with just about anything light and tangy, in my inexpert opinion. Gin + lime + orange soda = your Mountain Climbing Confidence Juice.

Prep Time: 1-2 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Orange Crush Singles to go
  • 1 shot of your favorite gin, carried in a flask or mini
  • 8 oz of water
  • Ice and/or snow
  • 1 quarter lime

The C{lime}b Crusher ingredients

Instructions

1. Fill your camp mug with 8 oz of water

2. Pour in your Orange Crush single packet. If you don’t have a big sweet tooth, add a little at a time, tasting as you go. Stop when you’ve reached your desired level of sweetness.

Step 2 for The C{lime}b Crusher

3. Give the mix a good spork stir

4. Pour 1 shot of gin into the mix (psst…or more)

5. Squeeze the juice from your quarter lime into the mix and place it on the rim so you look like a real backcountry bartender

Step 5 for The C{lime}b Crusher

6. Optional: Add a snowball and/or ice

Step 6 for The C{lime}b Crusher

Recipe Notes

Get this drink as ice-cold as possible. Don’t heat up gin and powdered orange crush. If you’re really looking for a warm drink, take a look at our next recipe.

The C{lime}b Crusher

A tangy gin drink that’ll give you the confidence to climb those mountains…the next morning, of course.

  • 1 packet Orange Crush Singles to go
  • 1 shot gin
  • 8 oz water
  • 1 handful ice and/or snow
  • 1 quarter lime
  1. Fill your camp mug with 8 oz of water
  2. Pour in your Orange Crush Singles packet. If you don’t have a big sweet tooth, add a little at a time, tasting as you go. Stop when you’ve reached your desired level of sweetness.
  3. Give the mix a good spork stir
  4. Pour 1 shot of gin into the mix (psst…or more)
  5. Squeeze the juice from your quarter lime into the mix and place it on the rim so you look like a real backcountry bartender
  6. Optional: Add a snowball and/or ice

Get this drink as ice-cold as possible.

4. Mountain Coffee Buzz

This is the most involved of these simple recipes. But, if you’re facing a cold night, you will definitely thank me for this one. There are two liquors involved in this drink, so pack multiple minis or make the alcohol mixture in your flask beforehand. It’s up to you.

Oh, and as a general rule, don’t buy cheap instant coffee. It’s already instant — how bad do you want it to taste?

(We recently did a blind taste test of the top instant coffee brands. Here are our favorites. You can also brew a cup of real coffee with a camping coffee maker.)

Prep Time: 6-7 minutes

Serves: 1-2

Ingredients

  • 8 oz of water
  • 1 packet of your favorite instant coffee
  • 1 shot of Kahlua
  • 1 shot of spiced rum
  • Optional: Toasted marshmallows

Mountain Coffee Buzz ingredients

Instructions

1. Boil your 8 oz of water

Step 1 for the Mountain Coffee Buzz

2. When you achieve a moderate boil, pour in your instant coffee (or just follow the instructions on the back of the pack)

Step 2 for the Mountain Coffee Buzz

3. Spork stir! Gently…don’t scrape up your camp pot

Step 3 for the Mountain Coffee Buzz

4. Pour your coffee into your drinking container (no need to get the camp pot sticky with Kahlua)

Step 4 for the Mountain Coffee Buzz

5. Pour in your shots of Kahlua and rum

6. Mix it all up good

7. Optional: Find some Christmas snowman marshmallows and give them a good campfire char. Throw one in to add some sweetness, and some morbidity, to the cocktail.

Step 7 for the Mountain Coffee Buzz

“Kill meeeeeeee” says the snowman. Charming, isn’t it?

Recipe Notes

Remember, boiling water is hot and coffee is generally caffeinated. Be aware of the repercussions of handling both in the late evening.

This is one of the few cocktails that uses the recommended amount of water listed on the powder packet. Keep this in mind for all recipes.

Mountain Coffee Buzz

A hot backpacking cocktail for cold mountain nights.

  • 8 oz water
  • 1 packet instant coffee
  • 1 shot Kahlua
  • 1 shot spiced rum
  • 1 toasted marshmallow ((optional))
  1. Boil your 8 oz of water
  2. When you achieve a moderate boil, pour in your instant coffee (or just follow the instructions on the back of the pack)
  3. Stir in the coffee with your spork. Gently…don’t scrape up your camp pot
  4. Pour your coffee into your drinking container (no need to get the camp pot sticky with Kahlua)
  5. Pour in your shots of Kahlua and rum
  6. Mix it all up good
  7. Optional: Find some Christmas snowman marshmallows and give them a good campfire char. Throw one in to add some sweetness, and some morbidity, to the cocktail.

There are two liquors involved in this drink, so pack multiple minis or make the alcohol mixture in your flask beforehand. It’s up to you. And remember, boiling water is hot and coffee is generally caffeinated. Be aware of the repercussions of handling both in the late evening

5. Summit Slammer Margarita

There are so many versions of this drink that I love. We have Backpacker Magazine’s Mountain MargaritaPat’s Backcountry Margarita, and now, at the risk of trying to fix what isn’t broken, my Summit Slammer Margarita.

Prep Time: 1-2 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 Country Time Lemonade packet
  • 1 shot of tequila
  • 8 oz of water
  • Ice and/or snow
  • Optional: 1 quarter lime

Someone recommended to me that I add an Emergen-C tablet to this recipe, but I must say that sounds disgusting. I’m pretty gnarly, but I can’t stoop that low.

Summit Slammer Margarita ingredients

Instructions

1. Pour your 8 oz of water into your camp mug

2. Add the contents of your Country Time lemonade packet and stir well. If you don’t have a big sweet tooth, add a little at a time, tasting as you go. Stop when you’ve reached your desired level of sweetness.

Step 2 for the Summit Slammer Margarita

3. Add your shot of tequila

Step 3 for the Summit Slammer Margarita

4. Chill it by adding ice and/or snow, or just serve and enjoy

5. Optional: Squeeze the juice from your quarter lime into the mix

6. Optional: After a long and sweaty day of hiking, stir this cocktail with your fingers to add some salt to your margarita if you don’t have any with you. Or run a finger around the rim of your mug to form a subtle ring of salt. Tasty, eh?

Step 6 for the Summit Slammer Margarita

Summit Slammer Margarita

My take on the classic backcountry margarita.

  • 1 packet powdered Country Time Lemonade drink mix
  • 1 shot tequila
  • 8 oz water
  • 1 handful ice and/or snow
  • 1 quarter lime ((optional))
  1. Pour your 8 oz of water into your camp mug
  2. Add the contents of your Country Time lemonade packet and stir well. If you don’t have a big sweet tooth, add a little at a time, tasting as you go. Stop when you’ve reached your desired level of sweetness.
  3. Add your shot of tequila
  4. Chill the drink by adding ice and/or snow, or just serve and enjoy
  5. Optional: Squeeze the juice from your quarter lime into the mix
  6. Optional: After a long and sweaty day of hiking, stir this cocktail with your fingers to add some salt to your margarita if you don’t have any . Or run a finger around the rim of your mug to form a subtle ring of salt. Tasty, eh?
 

Cheers, you backcountry booze hounds!

Cheers! These 5 backpacking cocktails will serve you well in the backcountry