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Whether you’re camping, hunting, or practicing survival skills in the backwoods, a few small comforts can go a long way towards a more enjoyable experience. That might mean camp coffee, a comfortable chair by the fire, paper-bag bacon and eggs for breakfast, or a nip of liquor from a flask. All these things could be considered luxuries, since they require extra preparation and space in your pack, but we’d say they’re well worth it. Camp cocktails such as boilo also fall into this category.
Before you think we’re going to suggest you whip out martini glasses and tiny umbrellas on your next camping trip, this isn’t that kind of cocktail. Boilo originated from hardy Pennsylvania anthracite coal miners, who created it as a drink to keep them warm in the fall and winter. It’s allegedly a derivative of krupnik, an Eastern-European liquor that includes grain alcohol and honey, as well as various combinations of herbs and spices. Like krupnik, boilo is made using a wide variety of recipes, and some believe it has medicinal properties for treating cold, flu, or other seasonal maladies.
Dan Wowak of Coalcracker Bushcraft shared his family’s boilo recipe on his YouTube channel, and with fall only a few weeks away, now is a good time to check it out. Dan’s recipe contains honey, ginger ale, water, lemon, orange, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and Four Queens (an inexpensive 101-proof whiskey). The ingredients are simmered in a single pot over the campfire, then strained before serving:
In the early days, boilo would’ve been based on home-distilled Appalachian moonshine. Other variants might contain nutmeg, cloves, caraway, anise, mint, or fruits such as apples or peaches. However you make it, boilo offers an easy way to relax and boost your spirits by the fire after a long day outdoors.