Pack a Party in Your Luggage with Portable Cocktail Kits

When the bar closes early—or there’s no bar at all—this gear will let you keep making your favorite island drinks.

Drinks at sunset
Drinks can be pretty pricey when you’re on vacation. It helps to know how to make your own cocktails.Shutterstock

When I realized last year that I’d never again enjoy my favorite margarita—the delicious cactus pear concoction at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, which is no longer at Atlantis—I channeled my inner old-timey alchemist and attempted to master the recipe listed on the chef’s website. The results were… not the best. But hey, we take what we can get when our favorite cocktails are taken from us (or served hundreds of miles away in places we never visit).

Knowing how to make popular cocktails is also an extremely valuable talent for people who host parties and entertain groups (or simply want to be the center of attention), and it certainly helps when you’re on vacation and want to manage your budget by limiting the number of fancier and pricier cocktails. Being able to whip up a few cocktails in your room or somewhere away from the resort can save time and money, and so it never hurts to bring the right gear along so you can serve as the portable bartender.

Pocket-sized Cocktail Kits

pocket cocktail kit
The Cocktail Box Co. 4-piece Cocktail Kit SetAmazon

I’d been familiar with these small tins for some time but only tried them recently, and I was shocked and thrilled with the results. For several years I’d casually tried to learn a basic Old Fashioned recipe so I could offer it to guests and family at parties and holiday gatherings, but nothing I’d handpicked from Google search results worked.

Then, I tried the Cocktail Box Co.’s Old Fashioned kit and not only was the process simple and the results more than adequate, but the presentation is also good enough that I keep the little stirrer and coaster displayed next to the tins on my home bar cart. The Champagne Cocktail kit also helped spice up our weekend mimosas, and Moscow Mule… well, it taught me what a Moscow Mule is, because I was clueless. Best of all, the tins are very carry-on friendly, and so my last two flights gave me the perfect excuse to enjoy a nice Gin and Tonic while the sleeping stranger next to me leaned into my seat.

Do Your Homework

Trader Vic's Tiki Party
Trader Vic's Tiki Party!: Cocktails and Food to Share with FriendsAmazon

One of the most fascinating subjects, to me, is the history of cocktails. Especially those that hail from tropical locations, because they almost always have great stories behind them, and if you’re really lucky you’ll meet a local expert who can offer the story behind the story, and this is especially great when there’s an island vs island rivalry over which people actually created the beloved cocktail. Drink history can often be better than fiction.

So, we definitely trust our friends at Trader Vic’s to give us the best recipes and tips when it comes to throwing a tropical party.

A Personal Favorite

Cocktail Mixer
Yes Cocktail Co. Blood Orange & Chili Pepper Cocktail MixerAmazon

Another mixer I was eager to try was Yes Cocktail Co.’s Blood Orange and Chili Pepper bottle, because I’ve heard it’s really good with mezcal and I’m a mezcal nut. For my first pour I combined the Yes mixer with Casamigos mezcal, poured over one large ice cube and garnished with a sugar-dusted blood orange peel, and the result was an instant favorite that has a forever home among the bottles on my bar cart.

(The instructions recommend adding a squeeze of lemon or lime, which is usually a given for me and tequila-based drinks, but I’ve been a champion of blood oranges for the last few years, and I recently started dusting wedges or peels with flavored sugar or salt, and it makes for a heck of a margarita or cocktail. I strongly recommend it, especially with this or other mixers.)

For When You Mean Business

Home Bar Kit
Zappoware Home Bar KitAmazon

The great thing about making the most popular cocktails is that you can get by most of the time with two red Solo cups for shaking and a spoon for stirring. But if you really want to roll up your sleeves and put some effort into making the appearance match the flavor, you’ll need a bartender kit. Pair it with a convenient travel roll and it’ll slide right into your luggage.

Waste Not Want Not

Silicone Wine Glasses
Brovino Silicone Wine GlassesAmazon

As more and more resorts boost their efforts to eliminate single-use plastics and other harmful products, we can do our part, too. Instead of buying a pack of plastic cups when you stop at a liquor store on the way to your resort, include a set of reusable, unbreakable “glasses” in your luggage, so you can make your own cocktails as you go and feel good about not contributing to the trash dilemma.

Don’t Forget the Straws

Steel Straws
Stainless Steel Drinking StrawsAmazon

And, of course, you’ll need to bring your own straws. A nice set of stainless steel straws can be used for years to come, on vacations anywhere in the world. Just remember to remove them from your pockets when you’re going through the metal detectors.