Your Guide to Making Cocktails at the Campground

Jun 14, 2021 | Food & Camp Cooking

Your Guide to Making Cocktails at the Campground

There’s nothing like winding down a day of outdoor adventures around a campfire with a drink in hand. Here are eight easy cocktail recipes to make while camping.

By Kerry Sainato

Beer and wine are obvious contenders for an evening nightcap for their ease and convenience, but don’t pass up the opportunity to have a proper cocktail even while roughing it. These drinks are best enjoyed outside by the campfire and are both tasty and easy to assemble. (If alcohol isn’t a part of your lifestyle, all of these recipes can be made virgin.) 

If you’re imbibing, do so responsibly. Not all campgrounds allow alcohol consumption, so check the rules and regulations for each campground before your visit. These are usually accessible on the campground’s website or in your reservation information. Be respectful of neighboring campers who are looking for peace and quiet.

Drink Recipes:


Camping Cocktail Gear

You don’t need much special gear to make a stellar cocktail. Keep it simple with a camping cocktail shaker set, a handheld juicer, and insulated tumblers to keep your cocktails cool. Reusable straws add a nice touch to a mixed drink.

If you prefer drinking your cocktails from glassware, consider bringing mason jars in various sizes. They’re cheap, sturdy, and work well for sipping spirits. Plus, they do double duty as storage containers while camping.

You’ll also want to make sure that you have a bag of fresh, clean ice that’s specifically for shaking up and adding to your cocktails. If you regularly find yourself with reliable access to electricity, consider purchasing a small countertop ice maker which makes it easier to guarantee ice on demand.

There are also a few common ingredients you’ll want to pack. Stir up a large batch of simple syrup by dissolving sugar into an equal volume of hot water. This won’t go bad, so consider packing a quart-sized mason jar full in your drink cooler. Citrus fruits like lemons and limes often make a cocktail sing, so toss a few of each into your grocery pile. 

Finally, if you want to mix up a variety of cocktails at your campsite, you can save space by packing different liquors in individual pint-sized mason jars with lids. Label them with painter’s tape and a permanent marker.


Simple Classic Cocktails

These classic cocktails require just a few ingredients and can be whipped up in a jiffy. 

Person holding drink in high ball glass by campfire
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Whiskey Highball

The whiskey highball, or whiskey ginger, is one of the easiest drinks to make; it requires just whiskey and ginger ale. A squeeze of lime is optional, but a welcome addition.

Makes:

1 cocktail 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 6 ounces ginger ale
  • A squeeze of lime, optional

Directions: 

  1. Add ice to a 12- to 16-ounce glass. Pour the whiskey and ginger ale into the glass. Add a squeeze of lime. Stir. 

Make It Virgin:

Well, that’s ginger ale on ice, but a squeeze of lime would add some zing to plain soda.


Person holding fruit-adorned drink while lounging in hammock
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Paloma

The paloma is the margarita’s rosier cousin and a nice change of pace. You can replace the grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and seltzer with Mexican-style grapefruit soda like Jarritos if you can get your hands on it. 

Makes:

1 cocktail 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 2 ounces fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 ounces seltzer
  • Kosher salt
  • Lime wedges, optional

Directions: 

  1. Pour several tablespoons of kosher salt on a plate. Rub the rim of a 12- to 16-ounce glass with a slice of lime and dip the moistened rim into the kosher salt. Fill the glass with ice. 
  2. Add a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and lime juice. Put the lid on the shaker and give it 10 to 15 good shakes. Using the strainer, pour the drink into your prepared glass, then top with seltzer. Serve with a wedge of lime if you’d like. 

Make It Virgin:

Without the tequila, you’ll have a delicious, fresh grapefruit soda that is sure to please.

Replace the tequila with vodka for a carbonated play on the classic salty dog cocktail.


Person playing game at picnic table with a drink in martini glass
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Classic Daiquiri 

A far cry from the overly sweetened frozen pink concoctions that have become synonymous with the word daiquiri, this classic version calls for just three ingredients—no blender needed.

Makes:

1 cocktail 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Sugar, optional
  • Thin slices of lime, optional

Directions: 

  1. Pour several tablespoons of sugar on a plate. Rub the rim of a 4- to 6-ounce glass with a slice of lime and dip the moistened rim into the sugar. 
  2. Add a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Add the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Put the lid on the shaker and give it 10 to 15 good shakes. 
  3. Using the strainer, pour the drink into your prepared glass. No ice for this one, it’s served straight up. Float a thin slice of lime on the surface of the drink. 

Make It Virgin:

Replace the white rum with 8 ounces of seltzer and serve on ice for a refreshing lime rickey.


Batch Drinks

Batch drinks can be mixed at home and tucked into the cooler to enjoy at the campground. 

Person holding a drink resting on cooler in truck bed
Photo: Kerry Sainato

John Daly

Spike your Arnold Palmer with vodka to make a John Daly cocktail. It’s a bright, refreshing summer drink that’s super easy to make ahead.

Makes:

32 ounces, about 4 to 6 cocktails 

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces lemonade
  • 12 ounces iced tea
  • 8 ounces vodka
  • Simple syrup, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, optional

Directions:

  1. Mix together the lemonade, iced tea, and vodka in a quart-sized mason jar. 
  2. To serve, add ice to an 8- to 12-ounce glass and add the premixed cocktail to the glass. Top off with a splash of simple syrup and stir, if desired. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Make It Virgin:

Premix only the lemonade and iced tea so that non-drinkers can enjoy an Arnold Palmer.

Replace the vodka with bourbon and add a few sprigs of mint for a Southern-style twisted tea.


Fruity drink sitting on countertop in a mason jar
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Tropical Rum Punch

Nothing says vacation quite like a juicy rum punch. This one boasts a perfect combination of tropical nectars. Mini-umbrellas are welcome but not required. 

Makes:

30 ounces, about 4 to 6 cocktails 

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces passionfruit juice
  • 7 ounces guava juice
  • 7 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 7 ounces white rum
  • 2 ounces dark rum, optional
  • Pineapple wedges, optional

Directions:

  1. Mix together the fruit juices and white rum in a quart-sized mason jar. 
  2. To serve, add ice to an 8- to 12-ounce glass and add the premixed cocktail to the glass. Float about half an ounce of dark rum on top of the drink. Garnish the rim of the glass with a pineapple wedge.

Make It Virgin:

Premix only the fruit juices to make a tropical elixir for all.

For a tasty change of pace at breakfast, serve this tropical trio of juices instead of OJ.


Pitcher standing next to two drink glasses; sangria drink in one mason jar with fruit decorations and ice
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Red Wine Sangria

Red wine sangria requires time to marinate, which makes it the perfect cocktail to make ahead in batches. 

Makes:

30 ounces, about 4 to 6 cocktails 

Ingredients:

  • 750 milliliters dry red wine (cabernet sauvignon works well)
  • 4 ounces orange liqueur
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1 orange, diced
  • 4 ounces blackberries
  • Seltzer or ginger ale, to serve

Directions:

  1. Mix together wine (choose a quality but not expensive wine for sangria), orange liqueur, apple, orange, and blackberries in a half-gallon mason jar or sealable pitcher. Let sit overnight to meld the flavors.
  2. To serve, add ice to an 8- to 12-ounce glass and add the premixed sangria to the glass along with fruit from the bottom of the pitcher. Finish with 1 to 2 ounces of seltzer—or if you like a sweeter sangria, use ginger ale. 

Make It Virgin:

Use cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, grape juice, or another juice of choice instead of wine. You can also use sparkling water (flavored or unflavored) as your base.


Dessert Drinks

These sweet drinks pair perfectly with a warm, toasty s’more—or can be enjoyed in place of one.

Coffee press with two coffee drinks sitting on picnic table and camper in background
Photo: Kerry Sainato

Irish Coffee

An Irish coffee is a perfect after-dinner delight. While a proper Irish coffee is made with Irish whiskey, you can replace the whiskey with Irish cream or amaretto for a sweeter dessert drink.

Makes:

1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces brewed, hot coffee
  • 1 ½  ounces Irish whiskey 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Whipped cream, to serve

Directions:

  1. In a coffee cup, combine the coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar. Stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. Top with whipped cream. 

Make It Virgin:

Remove the whiskey for a warm, sweet, and creamy fireside after-dinner coffee.

For easy, fresh whipped cream, pack 4 ounces of whipping cream in an 8-ounce mason jar. When you need whipped cream, shake the mason jar until the cream has thickened.


Photo: Kerry Sainato

S’mores Cocktail

Of course we’re including a drink inspired by a s’more. This dessert cocktail mimics all of the flavors in the classic campfire treat. 

Makes:

1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces chocolate milk
  • 1 ½  ounces vanilla vodka
  • ½ ounce amaretto
  • Chocolate syrup, chocolate spread, or simple syrup
  • 1 crushed graham cracker
  • Toasted marshmallows, garnish

Directions:

  1. Spread crushed graham crackers on a plate. Brush the rim of an 8- to 12-ounce glass with chocolate syrup, chocolate spread, or simple syrup. Dip the rim into the graham crackers to coat. Add ice to the glass.
  2. Add a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Add the chocolate milk, vanilla vodka, and amaretto. Put the lid on the shaker and give it 10 to 15 good shakes. 
  3. Using the strainer, pour the drink into your prepared glass. Garnish with a toasted marshmallow. 

Make It Virgin:

Kids will love iced chocolate milk with the graham cracker rim and toasted marshmallow garnish. 


We hope we’ve inspired you to try some new drinks while you enjoy your next campfire. These cocktails come together almost as quickly as popping a cork or cracking a beer—and are extremely tasty, too. 

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Kerry Sainato

Kerry bought a tiny teardrop trailer on a whim over four years ago and is now an enthusiastic RV traveler. She spends most of her camping nights in New England, but is working on plans for a year-long cross country journey with her husband. Kerry also owns and operates a cooking blog, cookwithkerry.com, and loves cooking over the open fire during her camping adventures.

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