Kara Newman knows a good drink. She’s the spirits editor for Wine Enthusiast and author of several cocktail books. Her latest release, Road Soda, offers recipes and hacks for making a delicious drink just about anywhere.
We caught up with her to talk about this book, just in time for you to take along on your summer adventures.
Phoenix New Times: Tell me a little bit about your book.
Newman: Road Soda is a book all about things to drink while traveling or dreaming about traveling. I give traveling a broad definition because it can mean the formal sense — traveling on a plane, on a train, being in a hotel room — but I think it also has to do with things like camping or being at the beach, anything that's a nontraditional venue. It's about drinking in places that aren't bars and aren't your home bar, necessarily.
It's a very nontraditional setup in terms of the chapters. It starts with the situations in which you might be drinking rather than drink styles. The first chapter is all about planes and trains — drinks that you might be making in a very limited space with very limited materials. I have things like a streamlined version of a jungle bird, which is a tiki-style cocktail that is usually kind of on the lavish side, but here is a pared-down version that you could, in theory, make on a plane if you planned ahead just a little bit.
The second chapter is all about drinks to make in your hotel room. Again, you have access to certain things in a fairly limited amount of space, but not as limited as a plane. You can probably go down and get a couple of lemon wedges from the breakfast buffet and turn that into a whiskey sour, or use your in room heater to make an Irish coffee, something that will be a little comforting.
After that, it's more about drinks that would be made on the go or you would take on the go — so there's a chapter dedicated to flasks, one about drinks that are made in bottles and cans, and an entire chapter dedicated to things made in bags and pouches and Capri Sun pouches. The final chapter is all about bigger batched drinks and things that you might make at your cabin in the woods or things that you can potentially batch together and put in your backpack and take with you on a hike or to the beach or the pool. It’s more larger-format drinks for groups. In between, there's lots and lots of advice from bartenders."
What got you interested in cocktail recipes for travel?
It all really goes back to an experience I had when I was traveling through Mexico. I was traveling with a couple of other people and we smacked right into a 10-hour flight delay and rather than sit at the airport for the better part of the day, we agreed to take ourselves over to the airport hotel and get ourselves a couple of rooms to wait it out there and sleep or work or whatever — and my whatever was pulling out a bottle of tequila and going down to the honor bar in the lobby and picking up a couple of cans of Fresca, which there is a grapefruit-flavored soda. I went back to my room and mixed up some hotel-room palomas and texted my friends and said come on over. It actually turned out to be a nice way to spend the rest of the afternoon, and by the time we got back onto our flight schedule, we were in a much better frame of mind than we were when we started. That just really set me on this journey.
What do you consider must-have gear for making drinks on the go?
I have to admit that I'm not someone who always travels with a cocktail shaker, but I have started traveling with little mini bottles of bitters. I think that's become my go-to. Almost anything else you can probably borrow or rig — I don't bother traveling with a cocktail shaker because anything can be a cocktail shaker but bitters are impossible.
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What are you hoping readers will take away from your book?
I hope that people will read it and realize that there are a lot of different ways to enjoy a drink and a lot of different places to enjoy a drink, and sometimes it's not even about the drink — sometimes it's more about where you are and who you're with.
Ultimate Airplane Daiquiri
Recipe by Julie Reiner, adapted by Kara Newman for Road Soda
4 ounces rum
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
2 lime wedges, for garnish
Fill a large plastic cup halfway with ice, then add the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Stir until chilled, then strain into two cups over fresh ice (use an extra cup or cutlery to hold back the ice). Garnish with a lime wedge on the rim of each cup. Makes two drinks.