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Is that water in that bottle, or is she quaffing a backcountry gin and tonic?
Is that water in that bottle, or is she quaffing a backcountry gin and tonic?

Paul Magnanti’s recipes

For cold weather:

Three parts apple cider, one part spiced rum. Add a cinnamon stick and an orange slice or two.

Three parts cocoa, one part peach schnapps.

For warmer weather:

Backcountry slushie: Scoop up snow, add a little water to get it melting, add your favorite sweet beverage to desired potency and vodka, also to desired potency.

Backcountry gin and tonic: Pre mix gin, tonic and limes together in a one-liter bottle. Scoop snow into another one-liter bottle. Pour mix over snow.

Special bottles

The Nalgene bottles sold at Neptune Mountaineering sport measurements for mixing up a margarita. An employee at the store suggested the idea, and the staff embraced it, conducting extensive field research to perfect the mix. The results are on the current bottle.

On her first big climbing trip, a few Memorial Day weekends ago, Piper Musmanno, of Boulder, learned a new backcountry trick. It involved margarita mix.

“My friend Cynthia sent me down from the crag about mid-day with instructions on how to mix her drink,” Musmanno said. The directions were to fill a Nalgene bottle with ice, then add half margarita mix and half water. No alcohol — she was using the salty mix as a substitute for a sports drink.

The margarita mix served its intended purpose that night, after climbing.

Despite the downside of drinking at altitude — dehydration being the biggest — many backcountry enthusiasts like to enjoy a little nip during or after their adventures. Especially if it’s convenient.

Ted Alvarez, an editor for Backpacker magazine, said plastic bottles are the best choice for carrying any drink in your backpack.

“Plastic bottles make packing everything out much, much easier,” he said.

Alvarez pointed out that it’s often easy to buy alcohol in plastic bottles — as long as you don’t mind cheaper booze. Plus, he said, it packs more of a punch.

“As much as I love beer, there’s just no point when you can get so much more power out of less,” he said.

Then again, a lot of great local microbrews — like Upslope’s ales and Oskar Blues brews — come in cans, which are much more convenient to stash in a pack than bottles, says Paul Magnanti, of Boulder.

After years of frequent ski tours and extended backpacking trips, Magnanti has honed his tastes for backcountry booze based upon the season and activity.

“For winter, my handy one-liter thermos is king,” Magnanti said.

But for summit celebrations, like a friend finishing all of the fourteeners, Magnanti suggests passing whiskey among friends.

“Whiskey should be sipped straight from the shared bottle,” Magnanti said.

He adds that the further you are into the backcountry, the better everything tastes — even in plastic.

On that vein, Alvarez recommends Pocket Shots — tiny packets of gin, vodka, rum, you name it.

“They’re not exactly top-shelf, but freeze-dried pasta primavera isn’t either, so it shouldn’t matter,” Alvarez said.

If you’re going for quality over quantity, bring a flask. GSI and Stanley make good ones, Alvarez said. (Also, Nalgene has a new BPA-free flask on the market.)

“I filled one with tequila, and it lasted two or three nights on Canada’s Rockwall Trail,” he said. “Also helped cure the rained-out blues.”

For wine aficionados, Alvarez calls the Platypus PlatyPreserve indispensable. But Magnanti calls boxed wine his “four-season favorite.”

“It comes in handy half-liter sizes for chilling in the snow all the way up to 5 liters for the really big hut trip.”