Cocktails for Summer Settings

Here are some recipes and ideas on how to have an excellent drink no matter how far away you are from the home bar

By Lido Vizzutti
Photo by Lido Vizzutti.

Alcohol is not a prerequisite for a Montana summer adventure. There are times, however, where a warming tipple around the fire with friends, sips of cool sweetness as toes dangle over the edge of a dock or an invigorating boozy beverage after a hike interplay with the soul and spirit of adventure.

If you do choose to include a cocktail along with your next outing, here are some recipes and ideas on how to have an excellent drink no matter how far away you are from the home bar. 

On the Dock

Freezer Limoncello or 

Cucumber Gin Martini

Limoncello Martini

1 1/2 oz Spotted Bear Spirits Vodka

1 1/2 oz Spotted Bear Spirits Limoncello

2/3 oz Fresh lime juice 

Garnish with lemon twist

Cucumber Gin Martini

1 1/2 oz Whistling Andy Distillery Cucumber Gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

Dash of orange bitters

Garnish with a cucumber (or add a slice or two in the pre-mix)

Having a martini dockside is decadent. Although everyone has their own philosophy on exactly how to make one, most of us can agree that it needs to be cold. The colder the better. 

Here’s a fun way to have that martini when you’re away from the ice machine. Add a couple ounces of water to a vacuum-sealed thermos and place it in the freezer for 24 hours, creating a portable ice-cold container. Pre-mix the cocktail in a separate container and place it in the freezer as well. Before heading down to the lake, add the freezer martini to the container with frozen water. Dilution as the ice melts is about the same as stirring the martini with ice, depending on how long it rests in the container. And because the container is vacuum-sealed, it should stay frigid for about 24 hours.

Around the Fire

Flask Boulevardier

For an 8 oz flask:

3 1/2 oz Glacier Distilling Company Fireweed

1 3/4 oz Campari

1 3/4 oz sweet vermouth

1 3/4 oz water

The Boulevardier is a variation of the classic Negroni cocktail, supplanting gin with whiskey and invoking a rich and warming experience. 

Although in a Negroni, my preference is to keep the rations 1 to 1 to 1, in a Boulevardier, I like to let the bourbon hang a little heavier. It’s a marriage of the whiskey with the sweet vermouth and important to find the interplay depending on the spirit. 

The Fireweed — a bourbon made by blending cherry brandy (distilled from Flathead Lake cherries) and bourbon — brings a singular sweetness with slight cherry overtones to the cocktail. Switch out the Fireweed for Glacier Distilling Company’s North Fork Rye for a spicier quality. Preparation is easy — combine all ingredients and funnel into your favorite flask.

As this will probably be consumed at a more ambient temperature, using the aged base spirits helps keep its integrity and adding a bit of water simulates the dilution when stirring together. You may need to test it a bit to find a preferred balance.

At the Campsite

Gold Rush

2 oz Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits Highline Rye

3/4 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz honey syrup

Garnish with a lemon twist

The Gold Rush is an idyllic campsite cocktail. Although it means hauling extra equipment, the campsite-side reactions are worth the effort. It’s a chameleon cocktail, warming on cooler, overcast days, and echoing cool relief when the sun is blazing.

All ingredients can be pre-assembled and placed in a leak-proof container. (The lemon juice can be carried separately, but I found that it travels well pre-mixed.) The high-maintenance efforts come in packing extra ice. 

Ice is a critical ingredient in any cocktail. It helps dilute, chill and emulsify the ingredients. Finding fresh ice on any adventure is challenging. While it may be tempting to dip into the cooler ice, this ice absorbs off-putting flavor and odors. A vacuum-sealed thermos is great for transporting good, clean ice. You’ll also want a shaker and, if you’re going the extra mile, a fine mesh strainer. When it’s time, add the liquids and the ice to the shaker, shake vigorously and strain into cups with ice.

This cocktail is best when shared and the recipe is easily scaled up. I made the Gold Rush on the river to the delight and disbelief of my boat mate — and guide — during a summer’s fishing trip. It’s a fun surprise to make a show of shaking it all together when no one is expecting it. Even out of plastic cups, this cocktail hits the spot after an eventful day exploring.

Where to Find it 

Spotted Bear Spirits is located at 503 Railway Street, Whitefish, www.spottedbearspirits.com

Glacier Distilling Company is located at 10237 U.S. Highway 2 E., Coram, www.glacierdistilling.com

Whistling Andy Distillery is located at 8020 MT Highway 35, Bigfork, www.whistlingandy.com

Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits is located at 2134 U.S. Highway 2 E., Kalispell, www.whitefishspirits.com