5 Tips for Making Hot Drinks for Campfires

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Andy Austin, photographer and outdoor enthusiast, knows better than anyone how to handle a bad chill. Growing up in Montana, he says if you give up and go inside when the snow starts to fly, you’ll be cooped up for most of the year, no one wants that!

Austin, who lives a hybrid life between the van and the home, highlights his experiences on TikTok. One particular series of posts he has curated is called Campfire Cocktails, where he teaches his viewers how to make delicious drinks while camping.

Campfire Cocktails began by collaborating with Bozeman Spirits Distilling to make a hot cinnamon punch. His recipe calls for two ounces of cinnamon whiskey, two quarts of a lemon, two drops of aromatic bitters, half an ounce of honey syrup (three parts honey, one part water), and hot water.

“I did this in the spring and I can’t wait to do it again in the winter,” says Austin. “Putting the bitters in gives it a whole new flavor profile that really opens up the drink.”

Austin says that whiskey is generally his drink of choice because it pairs well with many hot drinks like coffee, cider, or hot chocolate that you can make right on the campfire.

A clear expert on the subject, we asked Austin for all the tips and tricks so campers everywhere can easily make hot beverages to drink while camping in cold weather.

Choose a suitable heating source

Austin’s heat source for making hot drinks varies, but he generally prefers a Jetboil to quickly boil water. If he’s not using that, he’ll put a kettle over a campfire, either sitting to the side or on a camp grill.

“I love putting my kettle on a campfire because it’s great to always have hot water close at hand,” says Austin. “It’s so nice when you’re camping and you say, ‘Oh, I want to make a drink,’ or ‘I want to refill my drink,’ and immediately you have your kettle ready for the campfire.”

Prepare a good fire to cook

Because he often uses a grill when boiling water for drinks, Austin keeps the fire small enough that his kettle isn’t on direct flame.

“I keep it a little lower to heat the water,” Austin says. “Once it gets nice and hot, I’ll take the kettle off the heat for a bit just to make sure it stays at a nice temperature and doesn’t boil all the water over.”

Keep cookware simple and durable

Early on for Campfire Cocktails, Austin made the mistake of using typical glassware and mixing equipment. He was frustrated with how fragile everything was and he didn’t want to open his truck and find broken glass everywhere. So over time, he curated a collection of gear suitable for outdoor activities.

First things first: Austin got his trusty teapot at a thrift store. He recommends finding one that is built for open flame, usually made of titanium or stainless steel.

“I’ve definitely charred some teapot bottoms before,” Austin says, laughing.

He, of course, requires a few other tools to make campfire drinks. austin uses high camp flasks For cocktail shakers and mixing glasses. After years of using a leaky and messy ‘shitty’ cocktail shaker, he stumbled upon the brand and hasn’t used anything else since.

“Almost everything they have is double insulated,” he says. “So whether you’re making hot or cold drinks, it’s great to make things and drink from them. Basically, they built a lot of their stuff to do exactly this: make drinks around the campfire.”

The tall copper glass is designed with a built-in strainer, which he says is a great help. It also has a vacuum-sealed lid so you can make a drink and take it with you, if you choose.

use protection

One of the biggest mistakes Austin has made in the past is not using tongs or hot pads when removing the kettle from the heat.

“I’ve definitely been burned a couple of times,” he says. “I used to use makeshift things to handle the hot kettle.”

Highly recommend a good pair of fire fighting gloves.

Another mistake you’ve made is getting too complicated with your drinks.

“The simpler, the better,” says Austin. “A lot of the things I do at Campfire Cocktails I do on camera, but if it was just for fun, I would probably prep a lot of the ingredients ahead of time and bring them with me.”

For example, instead of packing up fresh blueberries and maple syrup, make it ahead of time so you have blueberry syrup ready for whatever toasty drink you like.

never forget the coffee

“I sure am a coffee snob,” Austin says. “I prioritize my life around coffee and where I’m going to get my next cup, it’s an addiction.”

Unlike the typical coffee snob, however, Austin isn’t afraid of instant coffee when camping.

“Sounds like a cardinal sin, but I found a brand called Black Coffee Roasting Company in Missoula Montana and they make amazing instant that tastes just as good as the regular stuff,” he says. “If I’m running to see a sunrise, it’s four in the morning and I don’t want to sit down and make it spill, so I throw instant coffee into some hot water from my Jetboil.”

When he has time to serve, Austin uses the coffee package. He likens it to a dump kit of Russian dolls that fit into a compact setup, something you don’t take for granted when camping.

“It doesn’t take up a lot of space and mimics the type of pour control on a gooseneck kettle,” he says. “I even take it to hotels when I’m traveling because most of them use K-cup machines which are terrible for the environment and have horrible coffee in my opinion.”