Some happy hours, like this week's, aren't conducted in a standard bar or kitchen. Here in the northeast, the fall foliage is at its peak. It sounds geeky but truly, the images are of the kind that inspire great artists, poets and philosophers. Seeking an infusion of inspiration and some fresh air, my family packed up our gear — including some suitable fall libations — and hit the trail for a weekend in the wilderness.
Camping isn't for everyone. Yes, you can go glamping (a new trend in prettying up the grungier, grittier camping experience) but where's the challenge in that? Camping is all about getting away from everyday luxuries, including internet access. Lucky for us, our Hickory Run State Park hasn't been affected by the federal government shutdowns yet, and we were able to pitch our tent, start a fire, and cook up some hot dogs and marshmallows for the kids.
After a hilarious introduction to Mad Libs for the boys, they cuddled up in their sleeping bags and slept (I say this loosely) under the stars. The sleeping part of camping is basically torture for me. I'm a light sleeper to begin with, add a less than cushy (well, let's just say rocky hard) surface to sleep on, rustling leaves and wind to the mix and I'm one wide awake camper. So after the boys fell asleep I made a night cap that was sure to soothe me to sleep.
When I opened a bottle of Knob Creek's Smoked Maple Bourbon, I was leery. Why do we need to flavor perfectly delicious bourbon? It smells just like Saturday morning pancake breakfast and I was afraid it was going to be syrupy sweet, but to my liking, it wasn't. Added to a steaming hot cuppa chai with a splash of cream, this made the perfect camping cocktail. And yes, I brought cinnamon sticks for garnish. I can't help myself — I even like camping to be delicious.
Smoked Maple Bourbon Chai Tea
6 ounces steaming hot water
2 chai tea bags
3 ounces Knob Creek Maple Bourbon
1 ounce half-and-half
Cinnamon stick for garnish
Pour the steaming water over the chai tea bags in a heatproof mug. Let steep for 3 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Add the maple bourbon and half-and-half and stir to combine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
This recipe calls for two tea bags because I prefer stronger chai spice flavors with this maple bourbon, but feel free to scale back to one tea bag to suit your preference.
Though not as creamy as half-and-half, you can also substitute Parmalat when camping. Parmalat is a shelf-stable milk product that is perfect for camping because no refrigeration is required.