The Best Camping Cocktails to Make You Forget You’re Outdoors

svmamas-campingcocktailsI hate camping, I really do, but I do it for the kids. When you grow up camping for every single vacation as I did as a kid, you either love camping or hate it with a fiery passion. I’m a hater with a son who is a camping lover, which leaves me trapped in a losing dilemma each summer. This year, we’re heading out for one brief camping trip after our annual trip with friends was cancelled on account of porta potties. (Due to the drought, Memorial Park in Loma Mar closed their bathrooms and are using porta potties instead. You’ve been warned. I can barely camp, let alone use a porta potty for days.)

To make camping a little more bearable, we bring fancy drinks, and this year we have some ace recipes courtesy of Sunset Magazine, including a Ginger-Rosemary Lemon Drop that could be made nonalcoholic for the kids and then punched up with vodka for the adults, and a Forest Negroni that will impress even your most hipster friends.

Quick camping cocktail tips from Nino Padova, senior editor of Sunset:

  • Make ice ahead of time and pack them in small Ziplock bags. He recommended big, square cubes because those melt slower than standard cubes.
  • Make simple syrup at home, which is a great base for many cocktails.
  • Simple bitters – small and easy to pack – go a long way.


The Ginger-Rosemary Lemon Drop is refreshing on a hot day and is the perfect summer afternoon cocktail. For a nonalcoholic version, the Rosemary Lemonade Spritzer, leave out the vodka and instead add 2-3 cups of sparkling water.


  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 piece unpeeled ginger, about 1 1/4 in. by 1 1/4 in., sliced into 1/8-in.-thick coins
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (5 in. each), plus 8 sprigs (1 1/2 in. each) for garnish
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (at least 5 lemons)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups citron vodka or 2-3 cups of sparkling water, for the nonalcoholic version.


1. Make lemon concentrate: In a medium saucepan, bring 2/3 cup sugar, ginger, 5-in. rosemary sprigs, and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Let steep at room temperature 20 minutes. Strain into a medium bowl, discarding rosemary and ginger, and stir in lemon juice.

2. Pour remaining 2/3 cup sugar onto a plate. Slice 2 thin slices from lemon and quarter the slices. Insert a 1 1/2-in. rosemary sprig through center of each quarter. With a wedge cut from remaining lemon, moisten the rims of 8 cocktail glasses. Twist rims gently in sugar to coat.

3. Fill a large pitcher half-full with ice cubes. Pour in vodka and lemon concentrate and stir vigorously. Strain into glasses, dividing evenly. Float a rosemary-skewered lemon quarter in each.

The Forest Negroni is a serious campfire drink.


  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tbsp.) St. George Terroir gin
  • 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tbsp.) lighter-style sweet vermouth, such as Dolin
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tbsp.) Gran Classico bitters
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tbsp.) Lillet Blanc
  • Fresh or dried bay leaf


Fill a cocktail-mixing glass about two-thirds with ice cubes and add everything except bay leaf. Stir until cold, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Strain over a large ice cube into an old-fashioned glass, and garnish with bay leaf.

A good cocktail may just be what some people (ahem, me) need to get excited be okay with camping. Thanks to Nino and the Sunset team for the introduction to these amazing drinks!

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