Lifting spirits
Horse & Hound|November 26, 2020
In Covid times, the only hip-flask contents you can share are recipes. Victoria Rea offers some of the best to lift the spirits and diminish the size of those hedges
Victoria Rea
THERE’S nothing quite like a warming sip from your hip flask on a cold winter’s day hunting. Reviving numb toes or giving courage for an upcoming hedge – or even refreshment on a long, fast-paced day.

As with everything this year, Christmas will be quite different thanks to Covid-19 restrictions. Even when hunting restarts over the festive period, it may be lacking the usual crowds and revelry, so it’s up to all of us to make the best of it we can. It won’t be possible to pass hip flasks round to share and compare, so all the more reason to nail your own recipe this year.

SURREY UNION joint-master Camilla Swift has refined her preferred tipple over the years.

“I always used to plump for a homemade sloe or damson gin, but in the past few years I’ve switched to a whisky mac – a concoction of ginger wine and whisky,” she explains (see box, right).

“I was first converted at the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent-Christmas meet where they serve a potent version. I found it just the ticket for that bit of Dutch courage before heading off around their Blue Anchor hedges.”

Camilla admits that for her own hip flask, she prefers a less overpowering version.

“I use Stone’s ginger wine and a splash of American whisky, rather than a proper Scotch or Irish whisky. I know it’s sacrilege to many, but I’d rather leave the nice stuff for the true aficionados; it’s wasted on me.”

Rather than a hard-and-fast recipe, Camilla adds a slosh of both to the hip flask until it meets the taste-test: “The hip-flask tasting the night before makes the last-minute boot polishing or tack cleaning a bit less of a slog.”

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