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Campfire Cocktails: Drinks for Sipping around the Firepit

Campfire Cocktails: Drinks for Sipping around the Firepit

Barring some unseasonable heat waves, it’s about the time of year people start breaking out the fire pits. Neighborhoods start to smell like tasteful bonfires and people stop barbecuing so much and start splitting wood and roasting marshmallows. And they stop drinking so many light summer beers and move on to heavier brews and hearty cocktails. We’re excited for it and we already have our top picks for drinks we’ll be mixing this fall. Here they are so you can mix them too.

Mulled Mead

Mead hasn’t been on our radar for very long, but we’re glad it is now. It’s unlike anything else anyone’s making right now and the more we get to drink the happier we’ll be. But it’s not the easiest thing to drink straight, so we’re also on the lookout for ways to ease people into the ancient/brand new beverage. Mulling mead is one of those ways. Since mead has certain wine-like qualities (it being honey wine), it takes to mulling as well as red wine does. Dropping in cloves, cinnamon, and ginger adds some fall spice and the sweeter mead base makes a perfect sipping drink for a chilly autumn night. And if you’re feeling particularly in touch with Scandinavian history, you can make it over the fire itself. Recipe

Mulled Wine

We’re including mulled wine as the reliable standby, in case the mead doesn’t go over as well as we hoped it would. Red wine has a deeper sweetness to it, which is brought out when you add some heat, ginger, citrus, allspice, and cinnamon. It’s an easy drink to make and you can get a gallon or two going that should carry you through the whole night, so you’re not jumping up and down mixing individual cocktails for everyone who wanders by. Plus, it won’t get you super drunk. You’re more looking at a responsible adult buzz rather than a fireside blackout. Recipe

Apple Cider Hot Toddy

The Hot Toddy is the granddad of the classic fall cocktails. It’s been around in one form or another since people had liquor and water to heat up and combine. Since those days, the ingredients have gotten more complicated (if you want them too), and some of the iterations are approaching unapproachable. That’s why we like this Apple Cider Hot Toddy. It builds on the old tradition of hot water and and whiskey, but doesn’t do it in a way that seems convoluted. You need a few of the standard spices, some apple cider, and a bit of lemon juice, all combined after minimal effort. Where we disagree with this recipe is in the call for honey whiskey. If that’s what you want, knock yourself out. But for us, we’re sticking with something Irish or made of rye. Recipe

Hot Ward 8

The immediate demand for a thermos in this recipe means inclusion is mandatory. To us, thermoses are unspoken suggestions for all these hot drinks but the Hot Ward 8 is the only one that makes it explicitly clear this is not a drink for staying in one place. It’s one of the more involved recipes, but since the recipe defaults to more than one serving, we think it’s worth the investment. You’re getting pomegranate, orange curacao, and lemon zest, all great accents for a hot camping cocktail. Recipe

Campfire Sling

There aren’t many drinks that taste like the Campfire Sling. Maple syrup is an uncommon ingredient in general mixology and we didn’t even know people made chocolate bitters. Both are flavors we eat year round, but mainly associate with fall and winter. Like Canada. In fact, the combination reminds us of fancy candies Canadians would make, only with better whiskey. Not to put Canadians down. Given the choice, we’re going with their maple syrup. But Canadian whisky is weirdly freeform, so the quality can be sporadic. Recipe

Boozy Hot Chocolate

This is one of those drinks you don’t really need a recipe for. Hell, you’ve even probably made it already, when you took a mug of hot chocolate and last night’s whiskey bottle was still sitting on the counter. There’s a lot of freedom here, as the recipe doesn’t even call for a specific liquor. Anything you feel like drinking can be poured here. The only thing you definitely have to do is melt chocolate in the mug, rather than use a powder mix. Chopping up solid chocolate and mixing it with hot milk gives you a much creamier, smoother hot chocolate, which is infinitely more pleasant than some generic water and powder crime. Recipe

Stone Wall

The Stone Wall is as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. You can play with the ratios, change up the fruit slices, switch liquors, or drop the simple syrup altogether. It’s completely up to you, which, to us, is the best part of the drink. As long as the bones of the Stone Wall are there, you’re going to have a light, cidery cocktail that fits a deep woods bonfire as well as it does a back patio firepit. Just be careful with it. Generally when cocktails have names like Stone Wall, it’s because drinking too many of them feels like hitting the namesake. Recipe

English Harvest

If you’ve ever eaten apples and peanut butter and liked it, you’re a step ahead on this cocktail. The guy who created it wanted to put a nutty, fruity twist on casual cocktails and he pretty much nailed it. The almond syrup takes the drink from a normal apple cocktail to the alcoholic version of a satisfying, healthy snack. And the name is nostalgic. It’s more complicated than something an English farmer would probably mix, but the name definitely paints that kind of picture. Recipe

Bourbon Milk Punch

We’ll admit it was the name that brought us to Bourbon Milk Punch. It’s straightforward and eye-catching and we didn’t even have to see the recipe to know it was going to become one of our favorite cold weather beverages. It’s rich, creamy, flavorful, warm, sweet, and is the perfect drink for the stubborn outdoorsman who won’t concede the firepit until frostbite becomes a real concern. And we’ll be honest here, we’ve already made changes to the recipe, since it actually calls for the drink to be served cold. But we think the bourbon, rum, vanilla, and simple syrup would all do much better mixed with milk that had spent some time in a sauce pan. Recipe


The Sazerac completes the trilogy for classic cocktails, along with the Manhattan and Old Fashioned, and of the three, it seems best suited to a quiet evening around a campfire. Not that you can drink either of the other two in the same situation, but the way rye whiskey and absinthe blend together feels the most appropriate for a camping cocktail. It’s an unusual taste that doesn’t encourage chugging or shots, making it one of the more responsible drinks you can bring with you in the woods. It’s also not very complicated, with only five ingredients, so it’s easy to pack. Plus, peeling a lemon with a pocket knife would add some rustic charm to a more refined cocktail, which is an easy way to sell us on a drink. Recipe

Rattle Skull

We originally featured this recipe in a July 4th article we wrote, but looking at the ingredients, it might lean more toward fall bonfires than summer barbecues. The porter and rum make it a heavier drink, generally something you look for in a drink in the colder months. The lime balances that a little, but only enough that you’ll consider having more than one, rather than ending up like those heavy beers that taste great but are doomed to single servings. Plus nutmeg never seems to be used outside the last quarter of the year, so if it’s involved, it must be fall. Recipe

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