The Traveling Cocktail: 5 Tips for Drinking Well on the Road

updated May 24, 2019
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We recently returned from a quick trip to Montana by train. The plan was to not bring computers, read as much for pleasure as we could, snowshoe every day, and drink copious mugs of hot chocolate. We did pretty well on the plan, adding to it at the last minute a few flasks of cocktails we whipped up at home for the overnight train ride. What we learned? You can drink well on the road.

We like to have friends over and make drinks, so I realize our home bar might be a bit more robust than most. But since it’s important to us and makes us happy, we sock away a little money each month to buy a new bottle or two. When traveling though, especially by train, you’re often relegated to drinking the quick gin and tonic or a ho-hum glass of wine.

In mixing up two different cocktails and taking them with us, we thought of a few strategies and tips to make drinking a nice cocktail on the road much more do-able:

5 Tips For Drinking Well on the Road

1. Broad Appeal: While I love experimenting with new flavors and combinations while at home, if you’re going to just have 1 or 2 choices on the road, you likely don’t want to go too terribly bold or try something wacky that you only hope may taste good. For our cocktails, we chose a more herbal gin and chartreuse mixture, and a whiskey/vermouth one as well. This way, we had something to cover the lighter moods and the more heavy, brown-liquor-type cravings as well.

2. Critical Containers: If you don’t have a nice flask, no problem. You could bring a small thermos or even Tupperware — you really just need something to transport your cocktail from point A to point B. Once you get to your destination or while on train, plane or bus, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hunt down a glass. Maybe, if you’re lucky, one with ice! (And of course, if you’re traveling by plane, your containers will need to fit into the TSA-approved sizes.)

3. Ponder Sharing: You never know when you may be sitting in the lobby with a new traveling friend or delayed at the airport on the way home. For this reason, it’s nice to bring enough to share with a new friend. Or, for that matter, to help make new friends.

4. Pace Yourself: This is not the first time we’ve brought cocktail flasks with us on a trip. The first time, we each had a generous glass on our initial night and didn’t have much left for the remaining trip. I find slowly sipping a cocktail for a few nights much more satisfying than having a healthy pour for just one.

5. Snacking, Too? When at home, do you like to have a few nibbles with your cocktails? We love pretzels or crackers, and because that’s such an easy thing to pack while on the road, I usually try to throw those in as well. Then when it comes time to pour a mini road cocktail, you’ll feel not all that far from home, really.

(Image: Megan Gordon)