HOUSTON – If you’ve been missing parties and meeting your friends for drinks, don’t fret! One local business is bringing the fun to you. The Traveling Spirit is a chic camper turned mobile bar that’s the perfect addition to your next outdoor event. Owner, Rachel Carlson, shared more about how she came up with the unique beverage service concept.
“I always say that everything I did in the past kind of led me to where I am right now,” said Carlson. “I always wanted to be a chef like as long as I can remember. I was always baking pies and making pasta.”
Following her dreams, Carlson attended culinary school in New York City and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2007. She then trained under great mentors all over the country from New York, Washington D.C., Nantucket and Austin before finally returning to her hometown in Houston.
“I was looking for some cool creative way to bring beverage service to Houston, and I found these vintage campers all over Pinterest. Within a month, I bought a vintage camper,” said Carlson.
After seeing the vintage camper bar trend that is popular in Australia, Carlson thought it would be fun to bring the concept to Houston. The 1959 cardinal caravan, which Carlson dubbed Betsy, was in rough condition, but with the help of family and friends, she was able to renovate it within six months. Shortly after, Carlson started using her culinary background to craft some very unique cocktails.
“My background plays a hug role in this business, knowing those flavors that people wouldn’t normally know, like grapefruit rose or a lemon lavender. We try to incorporate a lot of herbs into our drinks,” said Carlson.
When the pandemic started, business slowed for The Traveling Spirit due to the cancellations of weddings and large gatherings. However, Carlson did not lose faith or stay idle. She gave the camper a facelift, spent time brainstorming and soon saw new opportunities arise for her business.
“Since Texas has opened back up, it’s been busy,” said Carlson. “The Bubble Bar and the Camper Bar are great for outdoor events, and people are looking for fun and safe ways to celebrate with their loved ones.”
The Traveling Spirit Mobile Bar has remained busy, serving events like outdoor microweddings, backyard birthday parties and store openings. The Instagram-worthy design and outdoor setup is the perfect way to safely celebrate and break up quarantine fatigue.
“All we do is celebrate with people,” said Carlson. “It’s just so intoxicating being around people that are celebrating their favorite moments. So, it’s kind of hard to hate the job when you’re doing that all the time.”
If you’re looking for something special to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Carlson shared two cocktail recipes to help you shake up date night.
KISS FROM A ROSE
- 1.5 oz gin
- 1/2 oz aperol
- 1/2 oz rose syrup
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 3/4 egg white
- 2 oz grapefruit soda (squirt)
- Add all ingredients except soda to shaker
- Shake (dry) for 15 sec.
- Add ice & shake hard for 15 sec.
- Double strain mixture over ice
- Top with grapefruit soda
- Garnish with dried rose petals
- 2 oz Tequila (silver)
- 1/2 oz orange liqueur
- 1/2 oz Elderflower liqueur
- 1/2 oz agave
- 3/4 oz lime juice
- 3 fresh raspberries
- Muddle raspberries and agave in shaker
- Add all other ingredients + ice & shake hard 10 sec
- Strain into salt rimmed rocks glass
- Garnish with gold dusted raspberries
To connect with Rachel Carlson, visit the The Traveling Spirit Mobile Bar website.