When it comes to outdoor drinking a hip flask is a must. Practical and portable, these handy hippers store just the right amount of your favourite drink. Take them to festivals and sporting events, to bothies and wild camps, or simply as a warming accompaniment to lochside stravaigs.
We can’t do much about dodgy downpours or relentless midges, but a delicious dram in your back pocket will put you in the mood to toast Scotland’s summer, no matter what the weather brings.
Here’s all you need to know about the humble hip flask and when to use it.
WHY IS IT CALLED A HIP FLASK?
The clue is in the name: clandestine drinkers would conceal their flask in a pocket or belt by their hip. Fortunately, Scotland’s national dress made smuggling booze a breeze, with canny Highlanders tucking hip flasks in their sporran or concealing them in kilts. Today, many simply tuck their flask into a back pocket! Most hip flasks are curved to follow the contours of the wearer’s hip or thigh so you can carry your flask in comfort.
WHY CARRY A HIP FLASK?
Hip flasks are a discreet, practical and stylish way to carry booze on the move. Think summer adventures in the hills, toasting the mountain after an arduous climb, or sharing a dram around the campfire. Hip flasks are also great to have at hand (or hip!) for weddings or other Scottish celebrations that demand boozy toasts. Traditionalists who like to “first-foot” friends and neighbours on Hogmanay wouldn’t be without a hip flask containing fine, single malt whisky, and a wee nip is used to toast the river at the beginning of fishing season.
Many still mark Scotland’s traditional quarter days which are echoes of older religious festivals. If, like us, you enjoy living in tune with the seasons, a hip flask is ideal for summer and winter solstice celebrations or after a day’s foraging. Imagine how rewarding a juicy dram of sloe gin will taste after a long day foraging for wild berries!
In short, there’s many reasons to carry a hip flask. Keep reading for more occasions where you’ll be glad of a hip flask this summer.
THE HISTORY OF THE HIP FLASK
The modern hip flask has come a long way from the traditional bladderskin. Our ancestors knew a thing or two about concealing alcohol; illicit distilleries were rife in the Highlands during the 18th century, with “bladdermen” distributing coveted whisky to throughout remote villages and glens via an animal skin flask concealed in their britches.
The hip flask design we’re familiar with today emerged in the 1700s. Beloved by the British upper classes who liked a dram to accompany their sporting activities, the hip flask found favour with those who possessed an adventurous or rebellious spirit! In Prohibition Era America, women cleverly concealed slimline hip flasks in their stocking garters and gentleman became known as “hipsters” because of the flasks they concealed at their hip.
Traditionally thin, curved, and compact, older models had a ring on the outside that allowed the owner to secure their hip flask to the saddle of their horse. Today the hip flask is much smaller, allowing folk to smuggle a cheeky bevvy into festivals or wedding parties.
IS IT ILLEGAL TO CARRY A HIP FLASK?
What’s the spirit of adventure without a little rebellion?
Just bear in mind that each council area in Scotland has its own byelaws around public drinking. In Edinburgh, for example, you can freely drink from a hip flask in public but must stop if asked to by the police. Hop on the train to Glasgow, however, and it’s a different story. Drinking alcohol in public places has been illegal in Glasgow since 1996.
Most towns in Perthshire also banned public drinking, which includes the towns of Alyth, Blairgowrie, Dunkeld and Birnam, Errol, and Perth City. If you’re caught drinking in public in any of these places you’ll need to drown your sorrows afterwards - the penalty is a £60 fine. You’d also get an on-the-spot fine for swigging from your hip flask in the streets of St Andrews, however it’s perfectly legal to enjoy a dram on the beach.
Currently, 27 local authorities prohibit drinking alcohol in public places. Sometimes the drinking ban is only operational at certain days and times, so it’s always best to check the local council’s website. Because a standard hip flask normally only holds the equivalent of 4-5 pub measurements it’s unlikely you’re going to get drunk and disorderly.
Drink responsibly, be mindful of the rules, and you shouldn’t run into bother.
HOW TO CARRY A HIP FLASK
Due to their compact nature, hip flasks can be easily concealed in a number of ways:
- Stashed in a rucksack
- Hidden in a picnic basket under the sarnies
- Attached to your belt
- Inside the jacket pocket of a blazer or trouser pocket
- Concealed in a sporran
- In the top of your boot
- Tucked into cleavage!
To be clear: we’re not encouraging you to drink where you shouldn’t but part of the fun of a hip flask is that it’s meant to be concealed! It’s fun to surreptitiously hide your flask then whip it out at an opportune moment to thrill friends. The summit of a blustery, rain-spattered Munro would be the perfect moment to whip out your secret flask!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DECENT HIP FLASK
Pewter, silver, and glass were the traditional materials used to make hip flasks (pig skin bladders notwithstanding). Glass was an early choice because it didn’t alter the flavour or aroma of the beverage inside. However, the fragility of glass makes for an impractical hip flask.
Modern hip flasks are made from sensible and solid stainless steel. This material is ultra-hygienic, robust, and won’t spoil the flavour of your favourite tipple. Most come with a bayonet cap to prevent the cap rolling off into the grass. Always a hazard!
Some flasks come with a handy leather or tweed cosy to keep your drink warm. Let’s face it, summer nights can be chillier than we’d like here in Scotland, and there’s nothing like a nip of fiery brandy or uisge-bheatha to rouse your spirits!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN A HIP FLASK?
Whether you’ve been toasting the hills or a friend’s wedding, always clean your hip flask when you get home. Simply clean with hot water and washing up liquid then air dry thoroughly.
Never use soap, as it leaves a residue that will spoil the taste of your next drink.
HOW LONG CAN YOU STORE ALCOHOL IN A HIP FLASK?
Good news; it’s best to drink the contents of your flask on the same day you poured it, so there’s no need to ration! If you’ve been generous with passing the flask around then you shouldn’t have any leftover, but if you do pour the remaining spirit into a glass container then clean the flask as directed above.
While stainless steel container won’t flavour your beverage over the course of a day, if alcohol is left in the flask too long it might acquire a metallic aftertaste.
GIN BOTHY HIP FLASK
The Gin Bothy Hip Flask is the perfect companion for mellow summer evenings exploring Scotland’s beautiful outdoors. Made from hygienic stainless steel, this 6oz hip flask makes the perfect stowaway for pockets, packs, and picnics.
Enrobed in stylish black Harris Tweed to keep your toast toasty, it’s ideal for adventurous souls who don’t want to come in from the cold. Sit under the stars a little longer with a warming sip from this wee hip flask.
WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR HIP FLASK?
Spirits are the traditional choice for hip flasks — think whisky, brandy, and gin. You’ll want to pick something punchy as the narrow opening of the flask reduces the intensity of a drink’s aroma.
Our Hipflask Spirits Collection is ideal for wild rovers with a refined palette!
Packed with juicy Scottish fruit flavour, this liqueur is the jewel of our hedgerow harvest! Made with hand foraged brambles, it’s best served straight up on the road less travelled.
Strong but sweet, warm the cockles with our orange-infused rum. Its spicy, deep flavour is best shared over a bonnie sunset.
Golden Spiced Rum is currently on sale, grab it before it’s gone!
Excellent “wandering juice” as one customer put it! Light, crisp, and refreshing, this liqueur will see you to the top of the hill and back again.
Ok, you’ve got your hip flask and stashed your drink of choice inside it. Now it’s time to go on an adventure!
5 TIMES YOU’LL BE GLAD OF YOUR HIP FLASK THIS SUMMER
1. Not all those who wander are lost…
They just had a dram too many from the hip flask! Jokes aside, getting into the hills with a hip flask infuses summer with the spirit of adventure. Whether you’re scaling a Munro or stravaiging through the glens, you’ll be glad of a wee dram at the end of your journey.
2. Dutch courage for a Highland Fling
Ever tried the infamous Killiecrankie bungee jump? A quick sip from your hip flask is the drop of courage you need to muster up the nerve! We’ve teamed up with our friends at Nae Limits to offer the Adventure Awaits Gift Box to help adrenaline junkies enjoy Scotland’s wildside this summer. Whizz down the Tay on a raft, try your hand at gorge walking, or go all out adventure tubing. Whichever of Nae Limits activity you choose, you’ll get a Gin Bothy liqueur to steady the nerves!
3. A downhill dram
It’s set to be an exciting summer with Scotland hosting the UCI Cycling World Championships. While we wouldn’t advise drinking and cycling, it’s perfectly acceptable to cheer the cyclists on from the sidelines with a dram! Stunning venues across Scotland like Ben Nevis, the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow Green, Loch Lomond, and Glentress are the perfect place to enjoy a dram while watching this exhilarating event unfold.
For mountain bikers who enjoy the trail less travelled, a hip flask tucked away in your pack is the perfect way to toast the terrain. There’s other sporting events too — why not take your hip flask to a rugby match? Whether the dram is celebratory or commiserating, filling a hip flask with Gin Bothy liqueur will ensure smiles all round.
4. Fun at festivals
Scotland is known for its summer festivals. From music and books to food and drink, smuggling in a cheeky dram brings the spirit of adventure to summer. Scotland’s Highland Games season peaks in August —the perfect opportunity to conceal a hip flask of fruity liqueur in your sporran!
5. Wild Camping
You can toast Scotland’s beautiful outdoors with more than marshmallows. A hip flask of Sloe Gin Liqueur passed around the campfire will make summer memorable. Taking shelter in a bothy? Our Golden Spiced Rum will warm you to your boots!
Hopefully you’re now swayed towards the benefits of the hip flask. Whether you’re stocking up the campervan for a scenic roadtrip through the Highlands, cycling, swimming, or camping, a hip flask is your classic hillside companion.
Shop our Hipflask Collection online now and bring the spirit of adventure to your summer. If you’re already on the road this summer, why not visit our Bothy Experience at Glamis and try a dram or two?