Bota bags could be having a moment. These holdovers from skiing’s golden age laugh at today’s need for social distancing.

What will skiing, riding and cross-county look like in 2020-2021? Will gondolas be fully loaded? Will six-seat chairs be limited to a maximum of only two to three people from the same family? No one knows for certain, and policies vary between resorts. But one thing is sure: In a time of social distancing, skiers will be reluctant to pass around that pocket flask of
Jägermeister to ward off the chill.

The time is right to bring back the bota bag. 

Martini trees were a legendary and beloved feature of Taos Ski Valley dating back to the mid-1950s. What could be more memorable than coming across a hidden glass porrón buried in a tree well containing a perfectly-chilled gin martini?

Better yet, what if you could carry a martini around all day? And instead of breakable glass, carry it in a bota bag—a wineskin sling pouch traditionally made of leather, which presumably imparted some retsina-like flavor to the wine. Modern versions with plastic liners could carry martinis, wine or some other bracing refreshment that could be consumed while skiing or riding. What’s more, you could share some liquid courage with your friends and loved ones from a safe social distance of six feet—or farther—depending upon your aim.

The forerunner of the bota bag was the waterskin dating back some 5,000 years. Normally made of sheep or goat skin, it retained water naturally, perfect for desert crossings until the invention of the canteen. The first images of these bladders are from ancient Assyrians, who used them as floats in approximately 3000 B.C...

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