We interrupt this Summer Hiatus to address a serious, and very surprising, issue.
It’s something that I thought we’d never have to address at Shake, Stir, Muddle due to the abundance of common sense we have between us.
But it seems some of us didn’t get the memo. Because I’ve had a disturbing number of requests for a Camping Cocktail.
On paper, camping seems fun. The romance of climbing into your feather-weight and just-warm-enough sleeping bag at the end of a day of fresh air, giant belly laughs and just enough sunshine to give everyone a Melanoma-free glow. Warm days and cool, crisp nights leading to eight solid hours of sleep where your bladder behaves itself to the point that the question of how far good manners requires you to walk in the pitch blackness away from your tent before relieving yourself remains irrelevant.
Yes, camping as a holiday seems like a great idea but is inevitably a case of just counting the hours until you can go home.
Camping is to relaxing holidays as Midori is to quality cocktails. Yes, they are thematically coherent but the match ends there.
You’re completely at the mercy of the weather (we’re talking camping here, not the Midori). You can never find anything in your tent. Except sand, there’s always shitloads of that in your tent. You have no choice but to listen to your neighbours’ endless cycle of Kid Rock or Celine Dion ballads.
And I know kids love it, but kids also love Fanta. Doesn’t make it good.
And the children of other camping families have zero respect for boundaries. You always end up with some complete stranger wandering into your campsite as you’re sorting through all your clothes, wondering how it is possible that after only two days, six days of previously-clean clothing now requires urgent laundering.
The list is endless and it is time we stopped romanticising what is, in effect, a rolling back of several centuries of civilised living.
Case in point: you can’t get a decent cocktail.
Unless you are the sort of person who camps with a fridge, your cocktail options are extremely limited. And if you are the sort of person to camp with a fridge, why the fuck don’t you just go to a hotel?
Anyway, there’s no perishables (bye-bye fruit based cocktails), not a decent knife for 200kms (bye- bye proper twists) and worst of all, there’s no damned ice.
Way back in 1748, a canny guy at the University of Glasgow, one William Cullen, invented the first artificial refrigeration.
It is no coincidence that zero good cocktails were invented before 1748.
So the correct answer – if you must camp – is to accept that you will need to wait until you get home for a cocktail. Since my camping tolerance is 72 hours (and that’s in perfect Spring or Autumnal conditions, none of this 40 degree plus camping (that’s 104 degrees to my North American friends) and blue skies only, no rain and only the slightest of zephyrs so any month starting with J is completely unsuitable for camping anywhere in the world), I can go without a camping cocktail.
But if you must, here is my suggestion for an ice-free camping cocktail.
It’s a Rob Roy. And it’s not an IBA Official Cocktail.
Rob Roy the bloke, was Rob Roy MacGregor, a Scottish outlaw who lived in the late 1600s, dying just 14 years before his countryman did us all a solid with the domestic refrigeration revolution you seem hell-bent on disregarding.
Rob Roy the cocktail was invented at the Waldorf Astoria (apples, celery, walnuts, grapes) in New York City in 1894 and was created to celebrate the opening of an operetta based loosely on RR MacGregor’s life.
To be clear, it is intended to be served with ice.
But if you must, take your crappy enamel mug and mix up 2 parts Scotch Whisky (must be Scotch, and since MacGregor was born at Glengyle, you might want to consider Kilkerran whisky which is made in the area, or any Highland whisky) to one part Sweet Vermouth and add a dash of Angostura Bitters.
Drink enough to drown out the sounds of the mosquitoes and your camp-ground neighbours and don’t say I didn’t warn you.