There’s no shortage of products designed to sidestep the difficult work of composing a cocktail. From bottled syrups to powdered mixes, some great, some awful, we’ve seen just about every shortcut under the sun.
Camp Cocktails are a new approach to the idea, with each kit coming in a pint-sized jar that’s filled with all kinds of dried goodies. Specifically, there are various dried botanicals (heavy on fruits) along with a big block of flavored cane sugar. To make the finished cocktail, you simply add 12 oz. of the spirit of your choice (though for many of these the spirit should be obvious), put it in the refrigerator for three days, and then drink up. Each jar is said to make 8 cocktails, though that may realistically be on the high side.
Camp Cocktails currently comes in 10 varieties. We tried 4 of them, all tasted with infused spirits as noted below after three days of infusing time. (After all, there’s no way to taste these unmixed.)
Pro tip: No matter which of these you try, be sure to shake well and strain the infusion before drinking!
Camp Cocktails Cranberry Martini – Cranberry, lemon, orange, citrus infused cane sugar. Mixed with vodka. Makes a spicier spin on a Cape Cod cocktail, with a clear cranberry character at the fore, though there’s a kind of muddy character on the nose. Easily drinkable as is, but can work as a base for a more complex beverage. B
Camp Cocktails Aromatic Citrus – Oranges, rosemary, thyme, bitters infused cane sugar. Mixed with gin. The thyme and rosemary are dominant here, so if you don’t like strong herbal flavors, pass on this one. A huge rush of orange strikes the palate after the herbal notes fade, and again I notice that somewhat muddy character — here heavily on the finish rather than on the nose — that derails the experience a bit. B-
Camp Cocktails Butternut – Definitely the strangest in this group, this is a mix of dried butternut squash, allspice, cinnamon, and bitters infused cane sugar. Mixed with bourbon. I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised, as the finished product does indeed taste a lot like butternut squash, but sweetened and spiced up to give it an amazingly holiday-friendly profile. Think about sweet potato casserole (complete with marshmallows), in liquid form. No funky aftertaste — though this mixer probably changes wildly based on the spirit you use for its infusion. B+
Camp Cocktails Pineapple Jalapeno – Pineapple, lime, jalapeño, citrus infused cane sugar. Mixed with tequila. No big surprise here, this is a spicy margarita with a pineapple twist. The flavor is surprisingly authentic, with bold pineapple sweetness up front followed by a not insubstantial punch of peppery heat. They didn’t skimp on either the pineapple or the chile pepper, and if you pair this with a good tequila you’re in for a treat (though, perhaps, it may be a touch on the sweet side). Those who eschew spicy foodstuffs may be overwhelmed. A-
$24 each (makes 8 cocktails) / campcraftcocktails.com