The Art of the Backwoods Toddy

HAE’s boisterous behavior usually kicks up a few notches during Happy Hour. After a neccesary trip to the watering hole for the primary ingredient, the team settles themselves about the camp stove in anticipation of that steamy hot, alcohol enriched concoction: the Hot Toddy. After a couple of mugs of toddies, the volume goes up and the local wildlife has fled the scene. The HAE Bar and Grill is now open!

Choose Your Poison

If HAE had personal sherpas lugging up their stuff, you can be sure most of that stuff would be beer. Because the burden is their own, a more compact and lightweight alcoholic consumable is packed. Which means a trip to the State Liquor Store, standard proceedure for the HAE team as they head northward to the wilderness. HAE usually shows up before 9 AM to make a good size purchase attracting the attention of gawking locals and law enforcement officials.

gpond29There are many, many liquor choices for the backpacking booze hound. Remember, you’ve gotta carry this stuff on your back so you’ll want the strong stuff. What you’re after is something around 80 proof or better. HAE has tried them all but a few brands have dominated the liquor cabinet. Since HAE likes to drink straight from the flask as well as mixing into the toddy, something both smooth and flavorful is required. Recently all our favorite brands seem to have “Jack” in their name. Of course, you can’t leave that booze in that glass bottle…


Select the Decanter

Over the years, HAE has used many types of bottles to hold the precious booze. For nearly a decade, “Sigg” fuel bottles were the standard booze container. By the end of the nineties they were phased out and for good reason. The aluminum will stick fast to a moist lip if its cold enough. And there’s the chance one of the team would have eventually taken a deadly slug from the real fuel bottle by mistake. Of course, those bottles are also much heavier than the plastic bottles currently available.

There are many booze bottle options out there for the winter hiker as a trip to the nearest backpacking store will confirm. Vincentoli introduced the team to the current HAE Flask in 2001. (shown below) This 500 ml bottle is perfect for winter backpacking because of its resistance to cold, lightweight yet durable construction and easy to pack flattened shape.

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Savor the Flavor

The dictionary defines the Toddy as: A drink made with hot water, sugar, spices and liquor. HAE defines a hot toddy as: Anything hot with booze in it. One of HAE’s favorite recipes is hot cocoa mix, boiling Maine mountain brook water and whatever booze is within reach. Serve in a dirty camp mug with a sludge of whatever you had in that cup last. Remove any large floating “chunks” before drinking. For a refreshing fruity flavor, substitute the cocoa with spiced cider powdered mix. The classic HAE toddy recipe, a standard for over a decade, included fresh apple cider, a half gallon of the stuff, lashed to the back of Vincentoli’s pack and lugged high into the mountains. That recipe now exists only in the HAE Hall of Fame.

There’s nothing more depressing than an empty booze bottle. On the other hand, carrying out unconsumed booze would be unacceptable. White Trash Night, the last night in the woods, was designed to consume ALL alcoholic consumables to prevent the possibilty of left over liquor. The good thing about booze is, the more you drink, the less your pack will weigh. So do like Vincentoli says every year after that last hot toddy has passed his lips; “Bring less food and MORE booze!”

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