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The author finishing breakfast on a previous trip to Ithaca. Mmm, Cider

 

I am going camping this weekend. It is a yearly trip to the woods outside Ithaca, NY. So last night I grabbed a bottle of the dry cider I picked up there last year with the intention of formulating a good camping cocktail. The requirements, in my mind, for a camping drink are pretty simple. It has to be easy: pourable from a couple bottles or pre-mixed so as not to create extra dish-washing or take up extra space. It has to be drinkable from a mug. It has to compliment the environment—something that goes well with winding stories and campfire smoke. 

So I whipped up a few different ideas and, with this last requirement heavily in mind, I sampled them while I imagined standing by my fire. It is counterintuitive to think that camping makes even the simplest meal taste good and yet I failed in every attempt to make something I would want to drink this weekend more than just the cider alone. Or rye alone. Or wine, There are a thousand different ways to combine dry cider and bitters and liquor and everything else that can be exciting and complex and compelling while I stand next to my dining room table, and yet the fact remains: the sum of all bibulous human knowledge cannot replace the peculiar seasoning of the forest at night. 

Cocktails are a diversion. They are clever and meant for civil company. When I sit under the vastness of night, her friendly chill upon my cheek, a fire crackling against her ambivalent emptiness, I do not wish for diversion. I do not wish to feel civilized. I simply wish to be. 

Tonight, I will find some local wine, beer, cider, whisky. I'll fantasize about its origins in the black dirt of the Finger Lakes, or I'll just enjoy the way it tastes while I sit by my fire with my wife and friends telling the old stories and singing the songs of our old days, wild and far away. Some things just don't need improving.
Drink Well. 
-Chris

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