One of the best things about northern Arizona living is that a scenic 30-minute drive in any direction will get you into a completely different weather system and, for the antisocial freaks and geeks that make up the Masters of Brewtality crypt, that means outdoor fun year round! No more of the hustle and bustle of the downtown bar scene, just open skies and sweet quiet serenity. Now, we here at MOB are indeed avid beer fans. However, for any backpacking excursion, our beloved suds just flat out aren’t practical if you’re planning to do some extended drinking out there in yonder wilderness. True facts: A 16-ounce can of beer weighs a whopping pound each and, if you’re anything like us, sometimes 12 16-ounce beers is a Tuesday night. So, without further ado, fresh out of the sun-kissed canyons of the most remote, desolate Arizona desert, our guide to backpacking cocktails.
Irish Coffee: We’ll start at the beginning of the day, as there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good stiff drink first thing in the morning when camping (or when not camping). Honestly, we’d advocate a morning drink before brain surgery, flying a plane or receiving the Medal of Honor, but we’re also more cautionary example than role models down here in the crypt. For these, our trusty Jetboil is our first choice for getting the water percolatin’ and, for those of us who are as snobby with our coffee as we are with our beer, the Stanley Vacuum Travel Press is a game changer. Well insulated, easy to use and clean, it keeps the drink hot and comes in that classic Stanley color scheme that says, “If it was good enough for Grandpa, it’s good enough for me.” You can premix the Baileys and whiskey before leaving to cut down on bottle weight, but we suggest keeping them separate as that whiskey goes just fine into other drinks. Also, don’t bother with Nalgenes, Thermaflasks or anything like that. They’re heavy and a reused plastic water bottle works just fine. Pour the Baileys and whiskey in to taste and you’ve got a great little legitimized speedball of a cocktail. Subbing out the Stanley and ground coffee for the little packs of Starbucks worked just fine, too.
John Daly: The hideous boozy offspring of the Arnold Palmer. We mixed Country Time Arnold Palmer powder with some water and poured as much whiskey in as we could stand. A few of these got the job done and, before we knew, everyone had sprouted excessive body hair, bloodthirsty claws and was howling at the moon. For mixing whiskey, even though it stands up perfectly on its own, we recommend Grand Canyon Distillery’s un-aged Thundersnow. This white whiskey has faint undertones of candy corn, baked bread and malt, all of which dance with the refreshing lemonade and iced tea flavors perfectly. We used a Sawyer water filter to clean out some spring water before mixing the cocktail down just a hair. And the Ozark Trail Stainless Cup from the good old Wal-Mart was a cheap alternative to some higher end products out there. It worked just fine for drinking these John Daly’s and made a silly little hat late in the evening.
Southwestern Spiced Peach Tea: These are dangerous. Whyler’s packets were an easy mixer with a splash of water and Canyon Diablo’s Prickly Pear Vodka added just a whisper of Southwestern flair to this far-too-easy to drink cocktail. Now, it’s important to remember to do a one for one with a glass of water when drinking in nature, as death from dehydration is a real thing out here in the desert. And, if the Masters of Brewtality crew finds your skeleton, we will use your various bones to create assemblages for the crypt walls. Most people don’t relish winding up a ribcage and skull wall hanging.
“Failure Juice:” We screwed up on this one, but it’s going in anyways. To properly make Madman Mike’s Failure Juice, refill one of the large Smartwater bottles to the top with the Grand Canyon’s rum. Then, mix a few shots with powdered fruit punch Gatorade mix until a hideous slurry consistency is reached, and top off with a bit of water. Sip. Acknowledge defeat. Chug. Pour straight rum into the cup after cleaning and appreciate the whispers of pineapple and mango that tiptoe on the end of this fine 88-proof beverage. They can’t all be winners.
Beer: You knew we were going to bring at least one. When the Good Lord made the church, He left nature to the devil, hence this is where true Masters of Brewtality go to worship. And, as the church has its communion wine, we have the aluminum crowler! They smash down easy, are recyclable and one can totally indulge in the most potent beers they can find. Historic, McGaughs, Majestic Marketplace and Dark Sky all offer crowler fills and, come on, you gotta have at least one. See ya outdoors!