Camp Cocktail Takes Cocktails On the Road
By Emma Janzen
Samantha Harriss loves making cocktails, but you won’t find her behind a conventional bar anytime soon. Inspired by a serious case of wanderlust and the kitschy appeal of vintage camper culture, Harriss launched Camp Cocktail in early 2015. Now, the self-professed nomad (past gigs include rehabilitating turtles and winemaking in the Willamette Valley) makes drinks on the road, mixing cocktails for events around the country out of a 1971 Shasta Compact trailer that she pulls from a ’71 Ford F250 Camper Special.
Harriss planned the redesign herself, with renovation help from friends in Boone, North Carolina. Countertops are made of pine sourced from an old pickle factory, walnut cabinets come from felled trees, and the “funky driftwood accents” are from boat trips around the Pamlico. It’s well-equipped for making in tight quarters—an under-the-counter ice bin swings out when needed, there are two sinks for keeping beverages chilled. There’s even space for vinyl and a record player.
To date, she’s been booked every weekend (and some weekdays, too), serving crowds at music festivals, weddings, business events and more. Taking a largely seasonal approach to recipes, Harriss creates custom drinks for each event and makes most ingredients from scratch in the trailer. “Depending on the season I always use fresh and local produce,” she says. “I even can my own brandied cherries, keg my own ginger beer and make falernum.”
To give back to the lifestyle she loves so much, she donates proceeds from each event to National Parks and public lands, and she plans to release a cocktail and camping line featuring vintage National Park wares, flasks, enamel camp mugs and a collaborative cocktail book of National Park–inspired drinks.