Now that the heat of summer has broke and the monsoons are in full effect, it’s time to shelf the light beer and the refreshing rosés in exchange for something to warm you up. Sipping a boozy drink on a porch or in a tent while the rain comes down is one of the simplest pleasures in life and being prepared with the appropriate accoutrement.
The simplest and perhaps most enjoyable rainy-weather beverage is probably whiskey, straight from the bottle. I’ve been on several camping trips where the beer never made it out of the cooler, but whole bottles of bourbon or Irish whiskey were downed. Its warming effect coupled with the caramel, smokey, and slightly spicy character really gets the blood flowing. If you’re really prepared, an Old Fashioned in a thermos or water bottle is also a great way to go. To make one Nalgene bottle’s worth of Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail, follow this recipe:
750 ml of bourbon whiskey (I prefer Eagle Rare)
1 orange peel
10 Luxardo cherries
¾ ounce of bitters (Angostura bitters are the most traditional, but I like half Angostura, half orange bitters)
2 ounces simple syrup (or more/less to taste)
Directions: Add the simple syrup, bitters, and whiskey, shake very well. Add the cherries, orange peel, and ice to the brim of the Nalgene. Serve in plastic cups or pass it around the campfire.
Another beverage to drink when temperatures start dropping is mulled wine. Mulled wine is served hot, and has the addition of spices and distilled spirits. During the monsoon, you’ll still see highs in the 80s when the sun is out, so serving hot wine might not be a great idea. Instead, consider a boozed-up Sangria. Something spicy and boozy enough to warm you up, but with enough acidity and fruitiness to put on ice and be refreshing if the sun stays out a little longer than it was supposed to (again, Nalgene-sized recipe):
500 ml dry red wine (fruit-forward varieties, like Pinot Noir, Malbec, or even a dry rosé will work best)
4 oz spiced rum
4 oz brandy
1 oz triple sec
Directions: Squeeze the juice from the lemon and orange into your Nalgene, saving the peels. Add all the other liquids and shake well. Fill to the top with ice and fruit peels.
On rainy-day, porch-drinking sessions, I highly recommend a big barrel aged beer. Avery Brewing Co.’s Uncle Jacob’s Stout is a 14-percent bourbon barrel-aged stout that has all the warmth you want for an afternoon rainstorm. It comes in 12 oz. bottles, but it’s possible to split that with someone because Uncle Jacob’s is really rich and filling. Alesmith makes a barrel-aged version of it’s Speedway Stout, an imperial coffee stout. Like Uncle Jacob’s, Speedway also has plenty of booze, and with the addition of coffee, it’s got enough zing to keep you awake. Short of these barrel-aged beers, I’d also go the Double IPA route. Decadent Imperial IPA from Ska has plenty of warming booziness with enough fruity hops to be refreshing when it’s still hot outside. It’s also sneaky AF: a four pack goes a long long way. As far as sneaky, boozy, big beers go, Derail Ale from Durango Brewing Co. is also one to look out for. It’s got the high alcohol content you want, but still can be a refreshing beer if it’s nice and hot outside.
Robert Alan Wendeborn is a former cellar operator at Ska Brewing and current lead cellar operator at Tin Roof Brewing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.