MSR Drink Lab: Five Delicious Hot Winter Camping Drinks to Ring in the New Year

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Just in time for New Year’s Eve, we’ve got five rich, savory and spicy hot drinks that’ll keep you toasty on cold nights and mornings in the backcountry. These recipes are our top five favorites as submitted by you to our MSR email request. Concoct one or all of these tasty—and unique—concoctions and keep warm and spirited at basecamp this winter season.

Cheers and Happy New Year from the MSR crew!

Backpacker’s Chai

By Jessica Qualls, Journey Wilderness Adventures, Beijing, China

We run trips in China, so everything has to be from scratch! I found this recipe on a few years ago and have modified it for taste, camping, and what we can find in our local grocery stores.

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup milk powder

1 cup non-dairy creamer

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cardamom

1tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

1 tsp ground allspice (optional)

1/2 tsp white pepper (optional)

1 cup of white sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

earl grey tea

At home:
Mix together the milk powder, creamer and spices. (For best results, use whole spices and grind in a blender/food processor or with a mortar and pestle.)

In a separate bowl mix the sugar and vanilla extract. Then mix with the previous ingredients to create your chia mix.

At camp:

Bring water to a boil, steep one cup of earl grey tea, add 2-3 tsp of your chai mix, stir and enjoy!

REALLY HOT Chocolate

By Tanya Krezevska, Trail Recipes, Russia

What you’ll need:

1 tsp cocoa powder

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp grated dark chocolate

2 tbsp full cream milk powder

1/2 tsp corn flour

Pinch of salt

Very small pinch of cayenne pepper

At home:

Mix all the ingredients and put in a small zip-lock bag.

At camp:

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Pour hot chocolate mixture into a mug. Mix 2 tbsp of hot water to create a smooth paste. Add rest of the water and whisk for 20 seconds. And enjoy!

Hot Mama

By Coral Rose Taylor, Truckee, California

What you’ll need:

1 juiced Meyer Lemon (or a packet of Tangerine, Lemon-Lime or Pink Lemonade Emergen-C® if backpacking)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger (or powdered)

dash of cayenne

couple dashes of cinnamon

1 large spoonful of honey

1.5 oz. of bourbon (I like Bulleit)

hot water

At camp:

Put all ingredients except water and honey in your cup. Pour in hot water. Stir in honey. Warm your hands around your mug as you inhale the lovely aromas. Imbibe. Enjoy.

Not only does this taste delish and warm you up, it’s also good for the immune system (raising internal temperature, burning off bad bacteria/viruses, and alkalizing your system). And, you get to drink bourbon. Winning! 

Sherpa Tea

By Jay J, @rockrat1

This one was taught to me by a Nepalese climbing Sherpa while on winter cscent of Longs Peak, Colorado.

What you’ll need:

black tea

1 tbsp of honey (or brown sugar)

1 tablespoon of rancid yak butter, salted (or regular butter, salted)

Optional: shot of favorite booze (I like peppermint schnapps or tequila)

At camp:

Make tea by either the standard 4-5 steep method, or by boiling the tea bags for 3-5 mins—boiling makes super kickass tea. Add honey, butter and optional shot of booze. Mix, cheers and enjoy! This is perfect for any time of the day. Add the booze for a good night after a long day on the trail!

Caloried Hot Cocoa

By Edward Steele

While a hot tea toddy may be fine for the grown ups, caloried hot chocolate is a drink for everyone.

What you’ll need:

2 cups of your favorite instant hot chocolate

1 box instant pudding—chocolate is classic but banana is also good!

1/2 cup powdered whole milk (when it’s cold out, the fat is a great source of calories and slows the digestion of the simple sugars)

At home:

Mix all ingredients and put in storage bag or container.

At camp:

Boil water. Add two or three heaping tablespoons of your cocoa mix to your cup. Stir in water and enjoy! This isn’t just a tasty drink. It also offers quick, hot and delicious calories to keep you warm on frigid winter nights on any trip into the backcountry.