A month of sobriety is always healthy in leading a balanced lifestyle. Take a break and see what happens in the space left in its place.
It got me thinking of the many hiking adventures I have done and the spirits I like to take with me when supply is as much as you can carry on your back.
Liquids are heavy so you want to take something that packs the most punch with the least amount of weight and is tasty on its own. Spirits are the natural go to for this. High alcohol strength with the least weight ratio. It lifts the spirits, warms the stomach, numbs sore muscles and helps you sleep even in the less than comfortable locations out in the wild. Some scientific studies have suggested that drinking alcohol in moderation benefits the heart and circulatory system and protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Whiskey, tequila, mezcal, scotch, cognac, red wine and brandy all contain antioxidants.
A good whisky was a firm favourite of my parents to take into the mountains. Tasty neat and goes great with crisp mountain water. Many a humorous morning on hiking trip in the Eastern highlands of Zimbabwe we would by accident take a swig of what looked like water but turned out to be whisky.
Leonista Blanco has become a favourite out in the mountains. Strong, clean and full of earthy, smokey flavours that fit right into the scenery next to an open fire. Plus it looks so good cooling in a cold mountain stream. In the Himalayas it works great to warm you up and it's the only thing that won’t freeze in your bag if you want a celebratory sip on top of the highest peaks. Reposado Black goes great with a little coffee or as a night-cap with hot chocolate we tried in the Cederberg. Honey Reposado is nice and sweet so great for sharing with the adventure buddies.
A pap-sak bag of wine never tasted so good as when it's in a mountain hut. 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. Also you can use the bag to make a semi comfy camping pillow if your feeling desperate.
I must say towards the end of a hike there is nothing you crave more than a refreshing cold beer/draft. I usually start to fantasize about the cold droplet running down the side of the glass and the first crisp sip.
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
I definitely haven't managed any cocktails out in the wild but I know a few lemons and limes in your bag will go a long way. I did some research and found some fun ideas from the Backcountry bartender
Modified Mezcal Margarita with Blackberry and Lemon Balm
– 1.5 ounces Mezcal (Leonista Blanco)
– 1 ounce lime juice (we kept the squeezed lime in our drink to encourage the oil to permeate the cocktail and add a bright green note to the taste)
– 1 tbsp organic cane sugar
– Small handful of fresh blackberry
– 3-5 leaves fresh lemon balm
– In our case, we began by muddling the berries and sugar in the bottom of our cup directly (jar, whatever). If you have the tools, straining the blackberries is great. Making a shrub is an excellent way for this to last even longer and give you even more versatility.
– Add Mezcal, lime, ice (or snow), and shake.
– Press lemon balm leaves firmly but delicately to release oils without bruising the leaf and altering its flavor. Add to cocktail on the finish.
– For this drink, we simply left all ingredients in the jar and poured it into our glassware. The colors in our cocktail required no additional garnish.
see some links to some more backcountry bartending hacks below
What are your spirits on the trail?