Cheers to the great outdoors
Emily Vikre’s cookbook Camp Cocktails offers an inspiring collection of fun and easy cocktails for hiking, camping, or relaxing in your backyard
Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor
One of my favorite Norwegian phrases is “Ut på tur, aldri sur!” (Out on a hike, never angry), which I often quote while on the trail with my kids in the local woods near our home.
Tent camping and backpacking adventures are not on my summer to-do list, but I could be convinced after reading the inspiring new cookbook Camp Cocktails: Easy, Fun, & Delicious Cocktails for the Great Outdoors by Emily Vikre.
If you’re a long-time reader of The Norwegian American, Emily Vikre is a familiar name. She is a food writer and recipe developer at Five and Spice, and a previous drinks contributor to the Norwegian American Weekly. She holds a doctorate in food policy and behavioral therapy from Tufts University and explored her creative side and love of flavors out of the office.
During a visit home to see her parents in Duluth, Minn., Emily and her husband, Joel Vikre, were discussing the local craft beer scene. “We had this epiphany moment that this area was uniquely equipped with the natural resources, with Lake Superior and ingredients, for a distillery,” said Vikre.
The couple took a leap of faith and left their desk jobs on the East Coast to move home to Duluth to co-found Vikre Distilling in 2012.
Vikre Distilling is located on the shores of cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, with a cocktail room near the Aerial Lift Bridge. Their organic and sustainable products are inspired by from the North Woods, and utilize ingredients that come from within a 100-mile radius of Duluth.
Vikre Distilling has quite a following among drink enthusiasts. Some of their accolades include gold and silver medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and 90+ points in Wine Enthusiast. And in 2016, USA Today named Vikre Distilling Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery in the country.
In 2019, Vikre Distillery launched a canned cocktail called The Frenchie: An effervescent mix of Vikre gin with flavors of grapefruit and elderflower, sparkling rosé, and lemon. (You can learn more at frenchiecocktail.com.)
All this goes to say: Emily Vikre knows flavors, and her new cookbook Camp Cocktails: Easy, Fun, & Delicious Cocktails for the Great Outdoors is a real treat for outdoor enthusiasts.
The book is divided into five sections: Cocktail basics, Backpacking, Car Camping, The Cabin, and Foraging.
In the Basics section, Vikre details out the supplies and techniques one needs to take cocktails into the wild. It’s informative (like scaling proportions) and useful (like camp-friendly barware.
The book has a deliciously wide range of recipes that are well suited for every taste in every season: single servings in a flask or a big batch for a crowd, drinks served hot or cold, fruity or bitter, with great suggestions for adding a bartender’s touch. She includes a few Scandinavian-inspired recipes too, a nod to Vikre’s Norwegian heritage (she holds dual citizenship and spent her childhood summers in Norway), and her love of aquavit.
I bookmarked recipes throughout the book to try, notably the Chai Blossom Toddy (chai with brown sugar, lime juice, and rum), the Flask Boulevardier (which can easily be scaled up if you’re hiking with a group of friends), and the savory Spiked Cider with rosemary and bay leaf, reprinted here in The Norwegian American.
I love the Foraging section, and I asked Vikre about her inspiration for including it in the book.
“I got into foraging before we started the distillery… This is something that I grew up doing in Minnesota and Norway, finding the edible things in the woods: Ramps, berries, etc.,” said Vikre. “It’s part of the New Nordic cuisine. With the concept for this book, it’s all about cocktails to enjoy in the outdoors. So I thought about how to integrate the outdoors into your cocktails, with things that are pretty easy to forage.”
Divided by season, highlights in the Foraging section include Lilac Cordial, Field and Garden Vermouth with local herbs, Wild Berry Syrup, and Rose Hip Schnapps.
With stunning photography in the North Woods and thoughtfully crafted drink recipes, Emily Vikre’s Camp Cocktails will inspire you to get outside, whether on a hike or in your backyard.
Camp Cocktails: Easy, Fun, and Delicious Drinks for the Great Outdoors launches on Feb. 25, and can be purchased at your favorite local bookstore or Amazon.com.
Reprinted with permission from Camp Cocktails: Easy, Fun, and Delicious Drinks for the Great Outdoors by Emily Vikre
One 3- to 4-inch sprig rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
8 black peppercorns
Two 2-inch-long strips orange zest, peeled using a vegetable peeler
32 ounces fresh pressed apple cider, not juice
6 ounces rye whiskey
It’s so easy to put on pie-spiced blinders when thinking about apples that we often forget the apple’s remarkable affinity for other flavors, such as woodsy green herbs. This deeply aromatic cider plays up apple’s savory side with rosemary and bay leaf. Peppery rye is a perfect fit for making it boozy, though I also love this cider in its non-alcoholic form. – Emily Vikre
At home, pack the rosemary, cinnamon, bay leaf, peppercorns, and orange strips in a small zip-top bag or container for transport. At your campsite, combine the cider with the herbs and spices in a pot over a camp stove, and heat gently until steaming, but not bubbling. Allow to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cider from the heat and stir in the whiskey. Ladle into mugs to serve.
Make it bartendery: Bartenders love sherry, and so do apples. If you’re feeling alike a fancy camper, add a generous spoonful of oloroso sherry to your spiked cider. It will add a dry richness to your drink…. Not to mention, lugging a bottle of sherry with you when you’re camping is a clear indication you have your priorities straight.
To learn more about Vikre Distilling, visit:
In person: 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 102 Duluth, MN 55802
On the web: www.vikredistillery.com
This article originally appeared in the February 21, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.