The best hot drinks for camping: alcoholic and non-alcoholic backcountry bellywarmers

people drinking some of the best hot drinks for camping around a fire
best hot drinks for camping (Image credit: Getty Images)

A beer is the obvious choice for campers as they sit back and enjoy an evening campfire. But what about something more warming – and tasty – on a chilly night? A creative camping cocktail could be just the thing.

The recipes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails do require a bit of planning so that you have the right ingredients, but part of the fun is the process of making them over a camping stove or over a campfire with your friends and family. See our best camping stoves for the ideal backcountry cooking solutions and our best camping mugs for the perfect container to do your drinking from.

Do remember to behave responsibly when building a campfire (more on this in How to build a campfire) and you should aim to leave no trace when you break camp. Make use of a readymade campfire area at a campsite, or choose a portable fire pit if you are wild camping.

campfire drinks

Plan ahead and make delicious camping cocktails (Image credit: Getty Images)

7 hot drinks for campers

Hot chocolate cocktail

This is a hot chocolate – but so much more than that! First make a hot chocolate/cocoa in as simple, or extravagant, way as you want. For example, you could add hot water to a sachet of hot chocolate powder. Or, warm milk in a pan over a stove and add a swirling hot chocolate stick. For extra luxury, pour in some cream, too.

With the warming hot chocolate still in the pan, add 2 tablespoons of honey. Remove form the heat and pour into a mug.

Next add a shot of whisky and add a couple of marshmallows. Everyone has marshmallows at a campfire, right? 

Mulled cider

Not only does this hot drink taste divine but it also smells amazing. You’ll need a litre bottle of cider (if you plan to make enough to share with your campfire friends), 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a few cloves, a couple of cinnamon sticks and around 6 to 8 tablespoons of rum (dark rum is best).

Gently heat all of the ingredients together in a pan over a camping stove or campfire and once the sugar dissolves it’s ready to pour into camping mugs. Add half a cinnamon stick to decorate the drinks.

Cinnamon hot buttered rum

This sounds delicious doesn’t it? You will definitely need to plan ahead for making this hot drink but it will bring a wow factor to an evening around the campfire.

The cocktail is made in two parts and for ease you could make the first part, the spiced syrup, at home then bring it with you.

Alternatively, it’s easy enough to make the syrup in a small pan over a fire. Simply combine a cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, the juice of half a lemon, half a camping cup of sugar and half a cup of water. Cook gently until all of the sugar has dissolved and then set aside to cool.

Next, create the butter by mixing together half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 8 tablespoons of butter and a cup of brown sugar to form a paste.

To create the cocktail, divide the butter into four mugs. Pour a measure of rum into each mug and add a teaspoon of the syrup. Add boiling water and stir until the butter has dissolved. Now let the warming camping cocktail cool a little before sipping.

Hot white Russian 

This cocktail is a tasty balance of creamy coffee and vodka. It is simple but surprisingly good.

To create a hot white Russian while camping, simply make a pot of coffee as you would usually. Are you the type of camper that brings a cafetiere or uses an aeropress?

Pour the black coffee into a camping mug, add warm cream or milk, plus a shot of Kahlua (coffee liqueur) and half a shot of vodka. 

campfire drinks

Enjoy a hot drink with a friend while camping (Image credit: Getty Images)

Hot gin punch

This recipe is said to have been a favorite of the Victorians. Bring it into the 21st century with your own campfire version.

This recipe will serve several people and you could make it before you head off for a camping trip, then warm through over a camping stove or campfire. 

Add 150g of brown sugar, the grated zest of a lemon, the juice of the lemon and 600ml of water to a pan. 

Warm through and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Next add 300ml of gin (whatever brand you fancy)  and 200ml of sherry (you can miss out the sherry but it does add a nice extra flavor). 

Gently bring to a boil and allow to simmer for a few minutes before taking off the heat. Serve with thinly sliced lemon and add more sugar to taste if you want. 

Non-alcoholic mulled wine

You can go for a simple version of this traditional warming favourite, or take your time around the campfire to make a more authentic drink.

You’ll need a couple of oranges, sliced, and a litre of cranberry juice (buy a couple of cartons). For an easy recipe, buy a mulled wine spice pack from the supermarket. Alternatively, take you own mix from your store cupboard at home including  2 cinnamon sticks, 3 star anise, 4 cloves and a big pinch of ground nutmeg.

Gently heat all of the ingredients together until warmed through. The longer you cook this for, the richer the spice taste will be. Serve with half a stick of cinnamon each.

Peppermint hot chocolate

For a simple twist on a great camping favorite, make hot chocolate/cocoa (either with a powder mix or milk and a chocolate stirring stick). Then steep a peppermint tea bag in a cup of boiling water for five minutes. Remove the tea bag and add your hot chocolate mix. 

For an adult drink, with extra kick, add a shot of peppermint schnapps.

Once you have tried a campfire cocktail or two, the chances are the beer will be left unpacked on your next camping trip.

Fiona Russell

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.