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Sam Harris Gets Away From It All With Camp Cocktail

INDUSTRY EDGE

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RV Business Style: Camp Cocktail

Sam Harriss Found A Way To Channel Her Passion For The Outdoors Into The Mobile Business By Delivering Custom Cocktails

Sam Harriss With Her Dogs Barley and Pincho [Courtesy/Camp Cocktail]

When asked where her favorite spot in the continental United States in, Sam Harriss replies without hesitation: “I love the North Cascades in Washington. Being outside, getting away from everything. I feel like so many people are going back to that now. There’s something so important for humanity, being outside in nature.”

To Sam, the perfect vacation is “getting away from it all” in the most literal sense. In what she describes as the least trafficked national park in the country, Sam can park her camper and enjoy the remoteness.

Born and raised in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, Sam really embraced her love for outdoor recreation when she was 21 years old.

“I bought a 1951 Airstream off of eBay. I fell in love with the camp culture, being nomadic, and traveling.”

Soon after, Sam found a way to channel her passion for the outdoors into the mobile business she now owns and operates around the country: Camp Cocktail.

“When this idea came to me, it just kind of made sense. A love of cooking and creating, and being outside, having a creative outlet in a business.…”

Sam purchased a 13-foot-long, 1969 Shasta Compact and did a complete renovation of it.

“It was pretty much an overhaul. We took the skin off the frame and rebuilt the floor all the way up. We raised the height of the camper inside so we’d have taller bartenders. Inside the camper itself, everything is custom. There’s just a lot of quirky little details. [An] old driftwood tap system that wraps itself around the bar like a tree. All the lights hang on driftwood from the ceiling.”

With the camper officially completed, Sam opened Camp Cocktail for business in the fall of 2014. She held her first event in April 2015. At the outset, Sam was concerned about the public reception to her idea of a mobile bar and custom cocktails. Turns out, there was no need to worry.

Sam Feeds A Horse From Inside Her Trailer [Courtesy/Camp Cocktail]
Serving Drinks In The Beautiful Outdoors [Courtesy/Camp Cocktail]

“My first event was a free event to celebrate the finished camper, out in the mountains in North

Carolina. After that it was full steam into wedding season. I thought, you know, if this all fails, I’ll have a bar to drink from in my front yard. As soon as word spread about this cool idea...it kind of took off.”

Since then, Sam has expanded her business across the country .This past winter, she traveled in a caravan of friends and campers from North Carolina to California, hosting Camp Cocktail pop-up events along the way.

“The last time we drove across--which was the first time I traveled with Camp Cocktail--we convoyed with a few people. Someone pulled the airstream and someone pulled the cocktail bar. This year we left the airstream in California, so it’s got a little home out there. And I’ll travel back across this winter. I do a lot of festivals. I’ll travel to music festivals and work with distilleries. I’ve done a one-year-old’s birthday party. I’m all over the board. I’ve done a little bit of everything. In a couple of weeks, I’m doing the Mark Twain Humor Awards for Bill Murray. So I’m going to be bartending that, which is pretty exciting.”

While the notion of a bar on wheels is unique in itself, the drinks that Sam serves up are even more distinctive. Sam creates all the custom mixers and cocktails on her menus, featuring fresh ingredients, or what she calls “from garden to glass.”

“We live on such a small little sandbar out here, you have to grow a lot of the food if you want to eat organic. I grew up in a family of fishermen and farmers and I was always encouraged to eat that way. It’s so easy to make a rum and coke, but to introduce someone to a new drink, fresh and good, almost a healthy cocktail in a way, is really fun.”

Even in a far-flung place like the North Cascades, where she enjoys the lack of cell service and the singular company of her dogs--Barley and Pincho, both rescues--Sam can expand upon her concept of garden to glass cocktails by taking her ingredients from her immediate surroundings.

Camp Cocktail Clothing [Coutresy/Camp Cocktail]
Serving Drinks And Laughs At A Party [Courtesy/Camp Cocktail]

“I’ve foraged pine needs and juniper berries and infused vodka to make...almost like a gin.”

The concept of foraging for cocktail ingredients is taking off across the nation. Sam makes a practice of it whether traveling or at home, taking the classic cocktails which most people know and love, breaking them down, and then rebuilding them with local, fresh ingredients.

“Persimmons are in full bloom in the Outer Banks right now. They’re kind of like this funky fruit. So I infuse those in some bourbon which makes this really funky persimmon Old Fashioned.”

Sam even makes her own ginger beer, which then goes on tap in Camp Cocktail at her events.

“It’s almost like spicy and medicinal when I keg it. [I use] five pounds of ginger. I juice it fresh with tons of fresh lime juice, a little bit of sugar…. [add] water, and then I keg it and carbonate it overnight.”

While grateful for the success she’s already experienced, Sam has big plans for the future.

“We’re building out the second Camp Cocktail right now. My dream is to have one cocktail bar going around the southeast doing weddings and one traveling the US doing festivals. And then working with friends and distilleries and breweries. I’ve had this idea to do like a collaboration on national park cocktails. Pulling that idea of hiking and foraging cocktails and local distilleries and making a cocktail book out of that.”

Part of the profits from all of Sam’s Camp Cocktail events goes right back to what she loves the most: the national parks.

“I hate the idea of just a business--it’s selfish to just make money, if you’re not giving back to something…. I’ve always wanted to have a business that gives back somehow.”  

Much like her signature drinks, Sam has found that perfect blend that many small business owners search for: an infusion all of her favorite things--campers, cocktails, hiking, and rescue animals--into a lifestyle that works for her.


Kailyn Clay

A graduate of Trinity Christian College with degrees in English and Political Science, Kailyn has written for GEMS Girls’ Clubs, Spark Hire, The Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and other sources. She enjoys reading, writing, and camping.


Camp Cocktail

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Camp Cocktail, a one-of-a-kind traveling caravan bar. Bartending all types of events or gatherings: weddings, parties, business functions, promotional events and more. Camp Cocktail brings vintage elegance and style to you- anytime, anywhere.

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