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Bartenders Shout Out The Best Whiskeys For A ‘No Contact’ Camping Trip

With the pandemic raging in many corners of the U.S. and full-on lockdowns on the verge of returning, it’s pretty safe to say no one is going to have a “normal” August. Even when talking about camping, we have to be very careful with how we go out and enjoy nature. Your safety is not yours alone. We need to pull together to ensure the safety of one another.

In the practical sense, that means no indoor dining, wear a freaking mask, no parties/ concerts/ public gatherings, and no flights unless your need to travel supersedes the risk (if you have to ask, it probably doesn’t). But you can still have whiskey and you can still get outside. See? It’s not all bad!

If you choose to go camping this summer, find a spot far away from other campers (BLM land!), shop and fuel up beforehand, bring hand sanitizer, pack extra masks, and don’t forget the whiskey. Drink it straight, on the rocks, or in your go-to cocktail, and let it help you forget about how long it took you to put the tent up.

To find the perfect whiskey for your “no contact” summer trip, we asked some of our bartender pals for their favorite tentside bottles.

High West Campfire

John Marchetti, bartender at Dr. BBQ in St. Petersburg, Florida

High West Campfire truly is the world’s only blend of bourbon, rye, and scotch. Best sipped with a splash or two of water, this complex, blended whiskey is best enjoyed with old friends. I don’t know where to start on the notes because there are so many. Think vanilla, honey, toffee, chai spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange zest.

This blended whiskey finishes long, sweet, spicy, and — best of all — smoky.

Blackened Whiskey

Karl Steuck, bartender at Spirit & Spoon in Los Angeles

I’ve really been digging on Blackened Whiskey. It’s a rad blend of bourbons and ryes, hand-selected by the late and great acclaimed Dave Pickerell. Predominantly bourbon, the sweetness of the juice works perfectly with the rye’s savory spice. Definite notes of honey, cinnamon, and allspice all combine with an unexpected smooth apricot note lingering underneath.

Blackened is an unexpected-yet-ultimately-crowd-pleasing dram, appealing to many discerning palates — especially in the summer around a campfire. In my opinion, it’s perfect as a neat sipper, on the rocks, in an old fashioned, mixed with soda water, or in a mule.

Lagavulin 12

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Nazar Hrab, beverage director at The Pineapple Club in New York City

Camping deserves something smokey — definitely a peaty Scotch. I would say Lagavulin 12. Drinking smoky spirits like this next to the campfire is absolutely magical.

Joseph Magnus’ Murray Hill Club

Melissa Reigle, beverage manager and head bartender at Byblos in Miami

Camping is for stories and bourbon is for long, winding stories. And if you want a long rich bourbon with a phenomenal story, Joseph Magnus’ Murray Hill Club is for you. Almost a century after prohibition, the Magnus family found a single bottle of Murray Hill. They approached Nancy Fraley — a professional whiskey “noser” — and she was so impressed that she helped the family replicate the recipe.

These days, the family has a rich cache of memorabilia and stories, as well as an award-winning bourbon.

Pinhook Rye’d On

Steve Livigni, food and beverage partner at Hotel June in Los Angeles

I really like the whiskeys this brand is putting out. The newest release ‘Rye’d On’ is delicious, very flavorful at 97 proof, but not palate charring. The packaging is great too.

Bulleit Rye

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

The smokiness of a campfire on a camping trip and the spiciness of this rye mash come together for a full sensory experience.

Uncle Nearest 1884

Jorge Centeno, chief spirits officer at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois

Uncle Nearest 1884 is the perfect camping companion. It’s full-bodied with notes of oak, a clean finish, and it goes well with s’mores.

Bulleit Bourbon

Frantjasko Laonora, head mixologist at Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort in Curaçao

Smoke with smoke doesn’t go too well together. My feeling is that you want something that is lighter on the palate. This sip starts you off with smooth tones of maple, oak, and nutmeg then finishes off with a light toffee flavor — making it perfect to sip around a bonfire.

WRITER’S PICKS:

Baker’s Bourbon

One of Jim Beam’s small batch collection, Baker’s is aged for seven years and sits at a potent 107 proof. It’s full of rich vanilla, sweet honey, and subtle spice, making it a breeze for summer sipping after a long day of hiking.

Laphroaig 10

After an afternoon spent swimming in a lake, you’re probably going to want to relax in a comfortable chair while you warm yourself on a campfire. A smoky fire deserves an equally smoky whisky. Laphroaig 10 is the perfect juice for the job because it’s full of robust peat smoke, sweet caramel, and subtle ocean brine.

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