Float trips are hard work in a hot sun—both of which can build up a terrible thirst that sometimes needs something a little stronger than water or soft drinks. I’m talking adult beverages. Again, this is an area where creativity shines.
No float trip is complete without beer. Beer is a canoe brew staple. While it’s not necessarily all that creative, its presentation is. Standard coolers are still used, but they are supplemented by specialty ones. My personal favorite is Bob. Bob is a red and white, round cooler that resembles a fishing bobber. It floats behind your canoe and gives the impression that you’re trawling for the big one! In addition to keeping your drinks cool, it’s a great conversation starter and surprisingly buoyant. To float with an armload of beer is a dream come true for some.
NOTE: Glass bottles are not allowed on Missouri’s rivers. Make sure your beer is in cans.
Besides beer, we have a category of fruit and alcohol drinks. These include Gin Jugs, Plugged (or spiked) Watermelons, Sangria, and Jungle Juice. Each of these drinks is a variation on the same theme: chunks of fruit such as oranges, apples, cherries, lemons or watermelon soaked in alcohol such as gin, rum or whiskey. After drinking the fruit-infused liquor, it’s time to eat the fruit which has been soaking for nearly twenty-four hours. While the drink is potent, the fruit is moreso. A word of caution to those who decide to plug the melon, a spiked watermelon is considered an open container and is in violation of the open container law if found in a vehicle.
Another floating refresher is a Paint Can Mojito. To make this drink you will need a new, one gallon paint can, a clean hand towel, 1.25 cups of fresh mint leaves torn into pieces and crushed to release the flavor, 1.5 cups of lime juice, and 1 cup of syrup made from heating equal parts of sugar and water that is then allowed to cool. Put all ingredients (except the hand towel) into the paint can and add ice to almost fill the container. Leave an inch or two of space at the top. Seal the can by hammering the lid into place. Wrap the can in the clean hand towel and shake vigorously until ice forms on the outside of the can and the hand towel sticks to the surface. This is how you tell when it’s done. Open the can with a screwdriver and pass out straws. It’s a drink meant for sharing.
Slushy drinks are a favorite refresher. Frozen Margaritas and Daiquiris or Bourbon Slushes serve a dual purpose. Mix these in advance and funnel them into plastic bottles. Place them in the freezer, loosely capped to allow for expansion. They may not freeze completely because of the alcohol content, but they will come close. Tighten the caps and place them in the cooler where they will keep everything else cold. When they thaw enough to become slushy again, drink them for a chill that goes through your entire body.
Last, but not least are Jell-o shots. No float trip is complete without them. Mix Jell-o with all the boiling water according to the recipe on the box. Add the cold water amount in the form of half liquor and half ice. Stir until the ice melts and the mixture is starting to gel. The trick with Jell-o shots is that the small plastic cups are not allowed on the river – so finding a legal way to bring them can be fun. Check out Pinterst for all kinds of ideas, including hollowing out fresh strawberries or quartering an orange. With a legal way to keep them, these small, bite-size snacks cool and refresh all the way down.
Whatever drinks you decide upon, remember to drink responsibly and that no glass is allowed on float trips. You are also responsible for cleaning up your trash. Keep the rivers clean by carrying out all aluminum cans, plastic cups and lids.