The Spirit (and Wine and Beer) of Summer Camping

img6106.jpgI’m big on crowdsourcing. My Facebook friends—yep, all 3,394 of ‘em!—offer great insight into what’s new, what’s hot in their world and what should be relegated to the fad and meme Hall of Shame. So when I started planning a recent car-camping trip to Valley of Fire State Park, I took a Facebook poll: “What is the spirit, beer and wine of camping?” I asked. More than 41 comments later, I had my answer (and my Klout score had shot up a point or two).

First to the spirit: Even with the avalanche of votes for it, there was never any question that the bottle in my kit would be Campfire, a smoky Scotch, bourbon and rye blend from High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. I first got to try it right at the distillery, poured for me by High West founder David Perkins not long after its release early last May. A holiday gift from my parents, I have been hoarding this bottle ever since, hiding it from thirsty visitors and just waiting for the first camping trip of the summer. And it was sublime, drinking Campfire ’round the campfire in the Valley of Fire. Food pairing? Try my signature s’mores recipe: marshmallow Peeps (Easter leftovers) and Ghirardelli chocolate truffle squares between Marie biscuits. You’re welcome.

The wine would prove trickier. Red or white? Glass or some variation of a bota bag (wineskin)? “Vinho verde—young, light, crisp, and it has a very fresh finish,” one friend suggested. “A screw-top bottle or something in a Tetra Pak,” offered another. “It weighs less and is easier to dispose.” I considered both opinions at Cost Plus World Market, where I settled on a New Zealand sauvignon blanc by Eco.Love, an inexpensive but deliciously floral wine that is made in the world’s first CarbonZero-certified winery. A number of vinho verdes there also looked tempting. And for backpacking, a Tetra Pak would definitely be ideal.

Shockingly, I was not exactly inundated with beer suggestions—whiskey seemed to fuel the discussion—but recommendations ran the gamut from Rio Grande Brewery’s Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza to Ballast Point’s Sea Monster. But I decided to keep it local with a growler of fresh Citra Rye Pale Ale from Henderson’s own Joseph James Brewery. I picked up my glass growler—which was sealed and would easily last more than 30 days if stored that way—at the launch party at Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits. It’s so refreshing! I cannot wait for it to come out in cans, hopefully in time for my next camping trip.

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