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How to travel with tipples

I never forget to bring good booze when I travel, especially to foreign countries where the selection can be sparse. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know I love to jet-set. If adventure can be had and cocktails can be drunk, I’m there!

When my husband, Jay and I recently visited Guatemala on a 10 day adventure trip – and completed a grueling overnight hike on one of the most active volcanos in the world – I’d stashed W.L. Weller bourbon in a flask for a reward at the end of the day. It tasted mighty good after nine hours of crab crawling down slippery volcanic chutes and watching our guide, Carlos, machete through brush to literally blaze new trails (read the full story at the Washington Post).

Our campsite 400 yards from the active Volcan Santiaguito, where we luckily were able to enjoy a stash of W.L. bourbon we brought from the States

Our campsite 400 yards from the active Volcan Santiaguito, where we luckily were able to enjoy a stash of W.L. bourbon we brought from the States

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The view from a lookout point of Volcan Santiaguito. We scaled down Santa Maria, crossed the valley you see below, and up Santiaguito to camp for the night.

Since we were hiking, I didn’t bother to bring modifiers to mix up a true cocktail, but I did bring them for other parts of the trip when I knew we’d want to kick back at our inns and relax (there’s only so much Gallo beer a girl can drink before it gets boring). Here are a few tips for traveling in style with tipples:

1. Pack minis in your toiletry bag to bring on the plane. Sick of the airlines’ sorry booze selection? To be sure you can enjoy a good drink on the plane, put a mixed cocktail in a clean travel toiletry container, storing it  a zip-top bag, and whipping it out once you’re up  the air. Use the airline’s mixers like soda water and orange juice to complete your concoction.
2. Choose versatile booze to bring. Make it just one spirit you and your companions like most. Make this spirit go the distance by planning three to five cocktails around it. Gin or bourbon is surefire bet. Then bring one liqueur or fortified wine. Make your pick based on the booze you choose, and how many recipes you can dig up using both spirits (probably dozens). Among the most useful are Campari, a bitter amaro, maraschino liqueur or Cointreau, an orange liqueur. Don’t forget a bottle of Angostura bitters.
If you are checking your bag, you can wrap whole bottles tightly in clothing to protect the glass, or transfer the spirits to smaller, reusable plastic or stainless steel water bottles. If you are limiting your stash to what you can fit in your carryon zip-top, buy 3 ounce, reusable plastic travel shampoo containers and transfer the booze to them from the bottles. 

You should know that the Federal Aviation Administration currently does not limit the amount of alcoholic beverages you can send on a plane if they under 48 proof (such as bitters and some liqueurs or fortified wines), but you can only check five liters of sealable alcohol that is between 48 and 140 proof. Anything over that (like . . . a certain type of flammable rum) is not allowed at all, even in your toiletry kit. Overseas, there may be different rules on what’s permitted, so be sure to check before you go.

3. Bring a shaker and a jigger. Seriously. It does not take up that much space. I have certainly made do without a shaker before at a poorly equipped friend’s house and in a vacation cabin, but it wasn’t pretty rigging two glasses together and shaking them gently so they wouldn’t break. Bring the shaker, and to save space in your bag, tuck your cloth-wrapped jigger and a couple of minis in it. The jigger is necessary for whipping up a cocktail you’ll actually love because you’ll get the proportions right every time, rather than trying to wing it.

4. Keep it organized. If you are driving somewhere rather than flying, there are more options for keeping your booze supplies in order. I use a vintage toolbox to hold the things I need like a jigger, strainer, bar spoon, mesh sieves, and swizzle sticks. A small toolbox from Home Depot, or for a more feminine touch, a makeup travel case with compartments, works just as well. To keep glass bottles from clinking or breaking, it’s wise to place them in leakproof wine skins.  
Jay and I navigating the craggy surface in the valley between hikes of Santa Maria and Santiaguito volcanos.

Jay and I navigating the craggy surface in the valley between hikes of Santa Maria and Santiaguito volcanos.

Happy tippling and traveling!

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