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There may be teetotalling sea kayakers out there but I don’t know any. Booze and the sea just go together. Yo ho ho! and a bottle of rum! In the spirit of the holidays, I’d like to discuss cocktails, specifically the kind you take on a kayak expedition.
My cocktail of choice, the martini, won’t do for expeditions because of the ice factor. Don’t even suggest a warm *choke* martini. On the other hand, tequila in Baja seems obvious because it’s cheap and readily available and you could conceivably make Margaritas. A warm Margarita wouldn’t be as nasty as a warm martini, and tequila is always A Good Thing.
For expeditions my choice is Scotch. Whiskey can be drunk straight or with a dab of water. Oban is my favorite but at $80 a bottle not economical. Inexpensive choices would be Haig & Haig Pinch and Chevas; for Irish, Bushmill’s. Wine is good, especially red. Tsunami Ranger Scott Becklund brought a nice Kendall Jackson Pinot Noir on the 2012 retreat.
Rum of course was the go to alcohol for sailors and pirates in times past. I know Fat Paddler likes his Zacapa, as do I. Rum straight is good if it’s quality stuff. I don’t think many kayakers go for rum drinks when they’re kayaking, though. Again, the issue of ice and mixers. I have tried canned Pina Coladas and call me a purist but I thought they were pretty disgusting.
So what else have we got? I asked the Rangers to tell me about their favorite alcohol to bring on retreats and expeditions.
John Lull: Well, for a multi-day trip, it’s hard to beat the versatility of a fine brandy or cognac. It can go in your afternoon coffee or straight out of the bottle around the campfire at night. And a little goes a long way, so one good-sized bottle can do. My other favorite would be top-quality tequila, which is a great aperitif or just fine for sipping and drinking anytime. A fabulous port is excellent for dessert. And of course a good bottle of red wine goes well with the late-afternoon hors d’oeuvres (aka ‘whore’s ovaries’) or at dinner time. But wine is really best on a single-day or one-night trip because you can’t take enough to last on a longer camping trip. Best of all would be a chilled Ketel One martini, but unfortunately that’s pretty hard to arrange on a camping trip unless you’re in the arctic, so that’s out. Most important of all is to always take the ‘top shelf’ booze; none of that rot-gut stuff for me.
Steve King: On kayak retreats I always bring tequila; it is warming, and it’s a stimulant (unlike other alcohol). I like anejo Fortaleza, one of the best in the world! No need for mixers or salt or nada. Also a bottle called “8” – very, very good.
On my first Tsunami retreat I brought a bottle of Cuervo reserva de la familia anejo, a very great bottle. We pulled it out as soon as we landed on the beach, passed it around and drained it in about 15 minutes! Several people then had naps in the sun!
Deb Volturno: Most preferred by me is a fine sipping tequila! Choices are unlimited though, and have included fine sipping whiskey, scotch, rum, brandy, calvados, grappa, and port. Weather can be helpful in determining the best choice of spirits. Cold arctic circle temperatures in Norway beg for something very different from a steamy Mediterranean day at sea.
Don Kiesling: That would be Scotch. I like it because it has very powerful flavors – in addition to powerful alcohol – and with the taste buds being enhanced while camping, it’s really mind blowing. Also, typically only about half of the folks on a retreat want to share the Scotch, meaning there’s more for those of us who do enjoy it!
Scott Becklund: When on dive and kayaking trips I love to bring good brandy in my flask. It feels right for most days and doesn’t get in the way of drinking wine with dinner. Although I am particularly fond of hot buttered rum. Our good friend Larry would bring a Thermos or two to the beach for any surf, play or dive day. Yum! I’m off to go mix a Vodka Pellegrino with lime right now.
Eric Soares: Eric was partial to Scotch on both land and sea. Being part Portagee, he also loved port. He often brought a bottle on retreats. Fonseca was one of his favorites because that is the name of his Azorean relatives. Eric was proud of his Portuguese heritage.
Misha Dynnikov: Lastly I’d like to mention Misha’s Mead. Eric devoted a short section of his book Confessions of a Wave Warrior to Misha’s Mead – it was that special. Briefly, Misha’s mead was a home-made potion called schizandra. Misha showed up on one of the retreats swimming in from the surf naked carrying only a 2-gallon jar of this stuff. Everyone drank the mead. Apparently it was somewhat hallucinogenic and everyone went a little crazy. The following is a quote from Eric’s book: “An hour later I was sneaking around like Dracula, Gordon was chasing Jim around the beach with a paddle, Michael fell backward off a log with his splayed legs dangling in the air and Misha puked his mead into the sea”. ‘Nuff said.
What’s your favorite kayak cocktail? Spread the good cheer!