By Sam Harriss
November 6, 2020
North Carolina seems a state created in an artist’s mind, full of changing colors in our oceans and our trees — but the autumn season is when the state really shines.
It only makes sense to start every day complimenting the weather when summer goes shuffling off into hibernation. Like clockwork on the equinox, a truce is called between the sun and moon’s fight for time, peacefully dividing our light with darkness. Then magically we all turn the A/C off and open the windows.
I like to believe everyone that has lived here long enough shares a deep romance with fall on the Outer Banks, when beach driving is legal, oyster season is open, beach towels become blankets around bonfires and the local spirit is lifted with the northwest winds. It’s an unspoken tradition to meet up on the beach in the early evening and build a pit fire for roasting oysters. Maybe throw the trout rod a few times, catch the day’s last surf and watch all our local mongrels smile happily at the sandy freedom before them with no leashes holding them back. Of course, a few icy beers go hand in hand but every so often a bottle of bourbon comes to light and is graciously passed around.
No single aroma or taste beckons my memories of fall more than bourbon — well, possibly with the exception of pumpkin pie. To personify the aged oak beauty would mean to make her fierce and strong, a bold woman that moves like wind and wave. There’s nothing quite like it, that ‘ol gem of Kentucky, and like good craft done right, it rarely needs a drinking partner.
But because this is a cocktail column I will gladly oblige to a drink other than an old-fashioned. This one was dreamt up in a late thunderstorm, when we were still hanging onto summer’s end but awaiting fall feels. It’s the perfect balance between seasons and makes the switch a little less hostile for the unweathered.
Spirit of the Equinox
1 ½ ounces bourbon
dash of aromatic bitters
1 sugar cube
sprig of Thai basil
In a mixing glass, muddle the blackberries and bitters into the sugar cube until the sugar is somewhat dissolved. Add bourbon and fill with ice. Stir until mixing glass becomes frosty on outside, strain over ice and add sprig of Thai basil and twist of orange zest.
Sam Harriss is the owner/founder of Camp Cocktail, a mobile bartending business on the Outer Banks. When she’s not slinging drinks from the window of her remodeled 1969 Shasta camper trailer, you might find her nose-deep in a good book, a sleeping dog by her side.