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Taking It With You - Part 1

Portable drinks that stay cold all day

12/16/2007 12:00 AM

You drink at home. You drink at the bar or the restaurant. But what about at the beach? On the boat? While you're walking the dog?

The thought of taking it with you usually involves a big cooler with a bunch of ice and beer. That's fine for a picnic, if you're hauling it with a car, and if you want beer, but there are a lot of other drinks and places you can take them. This can be done easily and conveniently.

A caveat: obviously there are places where alcoholic drinks don't belong. First and foremost is a car, or the cockpit of a boat if you're driving. Places where alcohol is not allowed are a close second. Please use common sense.

Keep it cold

Now, you want to bring your favorite rum punch or Margaritas to a party, or to a beach that allows it. Or you want to take a premixed caipirinha when you visit a friend. How do you keep the drink fresh, cold, and undiluted? You use an old technology invented by Sir James Dewar (no, he didn't invent the Scotch) in 1892--the vacuum bottle. In its modern incarnation, it is called the Thermos, and some of the best ones for transporting drinks are made by the company of the same name.

Thermoses are not just for keeping coffee hot. They keep your drinks cold for hours, sometimes for an entire day. Also, your drinks don't get diluted by melting ice. The ice melts until the temperature is near freezing, then it mostly stops melting. I've kept drinks on ice in a Thermos overnight and they're still concentrated and not watered down in the morning. The Thermos is also convenient because it is self closing--just screw the top on and it won't spill while you're transporting it. That won't work with a sippy cup.

What I use

The smallest Thermos I use is the Nissan Leak-Proof Backpack Bottle (Nissan is a product line from Thermos--not the car). It holds 16 oz--figure about 10 oz of drink and 6 oz of ice. The top flips open very easily with one hand (you don't have to screw it off). You take a sip, then pop the lid back down. There is a gasket to prevent leaks, and it fits most cup holders. This will hold its temperature for about 5 or 6 hours. Perfect for when you don't need much, or you're crammed for space.

Bigger bottles

For larger quantities and longer temperature hold times, use the Nissan Briefcase Bottles. I have an older version of the 26 oz bottle and it works very well. You use about 18 oz of drink and 8 oz of ice.

For the larger 34 oz bottle, figure 24 oz of drink and 10 oz of ice. Measure the drink quantity in a measuring cup and pour it in the bottle. Then fill the bottle with ice. This will get you the correct proportions. The Briefcase models hold their temperature longer--about 10 to 12 hours. They also have a built in cup you can use.

Here are some tips to help you get maximum performance from your Thermos.

  • Prechill the drink and the Thermos in the refrigerator. Fill the Thermos with your drink (leave room for ice), and put it in the refrigerator. When you're ready to go, fill with ice.
  • Because the container and the liquid are already cold, you can use less ice and more drink.
  • Keep the Thermos out of direct sunlight. Even though it's a vacuum, the metal can still conduct heat from the sun to your drink.
  • If your Thermos has a removable gasket, be sure to wash it from time to time. They can get gunked up.

When you get past hot coffee (though Whisky Punch would be interesting), there are all kinds of possibilities for taking fresh, cold drinks with you. You might want to pack a second Thermos because when people find out you've brought high quality drinks, they become your best friend.

Last updated 2/10/2008 9:22 AM