In October 2008, I had the good fortune to walk a cross country backpacking loop off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were a party of six, and when it came time to figure out how we would divvy up group gear, trip member Bob Wade kindly volunteered to “bring evening cocktails”. We wisely accepted Bob’s offer, and after the first evening’s happy hour realized we had made a very good decision indeed. The nightly cocktails were a huge hit, and after the trip I begged Bob for the recipe.

Working up a thirst in the Dragon Creek drainage

Apparently, a passage mentioning backcountry margaritas in the guidebook we referenced while planning the trip caught Bob’s eye. Thus inspired, one evening Bob recruited his wife Ruth to help concoct a suitable mixture. As Bob later reported, the two spent a pleasant night mixing, taste testing, remixing and taste testing again (and again) before settling upon a splendid and lightweight backcountry margarita mix. Bob admitted, “Ruth did the hard, creative work; I mostly taste tested.”

The evening’s test results

Ruth and Bob have graciously agreed to share their backpackable margarita recipe:


(Makes sixteen – 8 oz. drinks)

1 package Kool-Aid w/ 1 cup sugar – lemonade flavor

1 tub Crystal Lite (enough to make 2 quarts) – orange flavor

(Combine Kool-Aid, Crystal Lite, and sugar to create powdered drink mix)

12 oz. Tequila

12 oz. EverClear

To make one cocktail:

1 rounded tablespoon of drink mix

3/4 oz. (also 1/2 shot) Tequila

3/4 oz. (also 1/2 shot) Ever Clear

(total of 1 shot or 1 1/2 oz alcohol)

1 cup (8 oz) water

Ice (ha ha ha)

Bob and Ruth own and operate the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, one of the very finest outdoor specialty stores in all of America. Stop by when you are in the area and say hi.

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