How to Throw a Camp-Themed Cocktail Party

Get inspired to mix it up in your own backyard with ideas from our San Francisco shindig

Nena Farrell
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With Love from San Francisco

We love a good cocktail hour, so hosting a camping-themed party with our friends from Campari America was right up our alley. It was an occasion that brought together some of the things we love the most—camping, DIY crafting, great food, and some delicious cocktails—on our mutual home turf of the San Francisco Bay Area. From sipping hot toddies in camping mugs to creating city-themed postcards, Camp Campari was an occasion to celebrate our hometown and love of camping.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate the great outdoors this fall but want to stay close to home, get the best of both worlds by throwing a camping-themed cocktail party of your own. Follow along to see how.

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Embrace the Camp Vibes

We took over the Presidio Log Cabin to capture the perfect combo of relaxed, outdoor vibes while enjoying the San Francisco views of Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field, downtown and the bay itself. With a few tents from Shelter Co. hosting activities, wooden bars manned by Rye on the Road with camping classics, and plenty of glamping-style lounging areas to enjoy the view and a cocktail, it was the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Capture the same mood as our afternoon at Camp Campari with a few stylish camping-inspired details. Serve prepared batch cocktails or mixers in round canteens, use camping mugs instead of glasses for drinks, and add some cozy touches with blankets and printed pillows for guests to relax on.

Add an extra twist with some themed cocktails. As an homage to both Sunset and Campari’s home in the Bay Area, each cocktail was named after a different local outdoor landmark. Our menu was made up of “Point Reyes” with SKYY Vodka, “Chrissy Field” with Campari, The Presidio Hot Toddy with 40 Creek Double Barrel Reserve Canadian Whisky, and The Muir Woods Old Fashioned with Appleton Reserve Blend Rum.

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Fire up the Skillet

The best thing to pair with a hot toddy? Some quick bites that channel camping vibes, without the no-sink cleanup. We went the gourmet route with grilled peach toast with prosciutto and pecorino, with bread from Tartine and pecorino from Cowgirl Creamery, and a sweet companion of blistered Medjool dates with warm, dark chocolate from Dandelion Chocolate. These fireside snacks were made by Ashley Rodriguez, a cookbook writer and formerly of Spago in Beverly Hills, with Barebones.

At your gathering, you can skip the open fire, but do grab a cast-iron skillet to make some fresh bites for your guests. Try an upscale take on a favorite camping recipe, or check out ideas for gourmet camp cooking from our Camp Sunset book that are just as delicious at home. Campers especially love our gourmet variations on s’mores, from the “Classic Plus” (dark chocolate + strawberries = yum!) to the “Giandua” (featuring wafer cookies and Nutella).

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DIY throughout the Day

At Camp Campari, we enjoyed a crafting adventure courtesy of our friends from Indigo Designerie, who led us in a shibori dyeing project. At your backyard bash, take advantage of the home turf with a fun camping-themed craft. Personalizing something useful like a handkerchief not only makes for a great souvenir, but also serves as a party favor that guests can use on their next outdoor adventure. Display a few finished products outside to get everyone excited about making one.

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Channel Your Creative Side

The talented Emilee Rudd created these San Francisco-themed postcards for our event, and showed attendees how to use watercolor pens to easily bring the landscapes to life. Recreate the experience with postcards or pages from a favorite modern coloring book. Guests young and old can get excited about coloring when making gorgeous postcards like these.

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Set up a Spot to Lounge

The best part about a cocktail hour is kicking back with a drink, so make sure there’s plenty of space for guests to get cozy. Go for a glamping vibe with outdoor rugs, earth-toned pillows, and printed poufs to lounge on with that camp mug cocktail in hand.

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Grab a Few Props

The best way to make any afternoon memorable? Set up a selfie spot or photo booth to give guests that picture-perfect opportunity to snap away and enjoy lots of laughs between takes. Grab a few camping-inspired toys and hats to bring home the theme and wrap up a fun afternoon.