Camille Wilson infuses Caribbean flavors in her virtual happy hour kits

Mixologist Camille Wilson brings accessibility to cocktail hour through Caribbean-inspired virtual happy hour kits.

Mixologist Camille Wilson enjoying a cocktail
Photo Cred: Amanda Crommett

Camille Wilson is no cocktail snob

From the start of her mixology blog in 2018, The Cocktail Snob, Camille wanted to create accessible cocktail recipes that everyone could make without breaking the bank. The business grew into curated “Happy Hour at Home” virtual tasting events.

"When I created, ‘Happy Hour at Home,’ I really mean that because I try to keep things simple. And I try my best not to use inaccessible ingredients because I want everyone to be able to make the drinks if they choose."

Camille only became passionate about mixology after college, as she didn’t enjoy the taste of alcohol. Her experience with cocktail-making changed as she witnessed New York City’s bespoke cocktail scene. She found that cocktails could be more than simple syrup but infused with various fresh ingredients.

"When I started, I wasn't trying to make money. I didn't intend to make it a business. I just wanted to write; I just wanted to create, and I think it was sort of like my passion and drive that turned it into a business."

By becoming a home bartender, The Cocktail Snob was born. During the pandemic, her virtual happy hour kits and classes exploded. She began to host 3-4 tastings each a week as people started to search for virtual experiences. She made all her recipes accessible by going to the supermarket instead of usng ingredients from specialty alcohol stores.

Through her virtual happy hour kits, Camille infuses her Jamaican roots into her recipes

When developing new recipes, Camille draws influence from her family roots in Jamaica. Rum is a mainstay of her family and culture. Not only used socially, but rum is also used medicinally and in cooking and baking. Within her recipe creation, she tries to reinvent the use of rum from only frozen drinks to everyday recipes. Rum has been a part of her life at every party and gathering, and through teaching its other uses, she feels she can educate more about her heritage.  

"Rum has been a part of my life since I was born - whether we're drinking it, using it for medicinal purposes or cooking and baking with it. Rum Punch is something that has to be at every gathering. It's part of every Caribbean person's DNA."

Camille has always been drawn to her favorite cocktail: the daiquiri. Made up of three essential ingredients, rum, lime, and sugar, Camille has spent her career demystifying the drink. Many people know the frozen daiquiri but need to learn about the original blended version. While many recipes have fancy syrups and bitters, the daiquiri showcases a great cocktail with simple ingredients.

Camille's mission is to increase the availability of cocktails – including alcohol-free alternatives

Her work focuses on increasing convenience to cocktails, whether hosting virtual events or creating recipes. Including everyone in the conversation is one of her key missions. Writing her first book of nonalcoholic cocktails, she wrote all the recipes within a weekend. Her book, Free Spirit Cocktails: 40 Nonalcoholic Drink Recipes, features 40 new recipes that allow nonalcoholic drinkers to indulge in bespoke cocktail-making beyond soda water. Her cocktails tease out the flavors of fresh produce, often requiring fresh lime, orange, lemon, or grapefruit to boost flavor. She uses new ingredients like green tea and tonic water to elevate mocktail creation to have more complexity.

"It's about inclusivity. I think everyone deserves to enjoy a drinking experience, no matter your budget."

After growing her business, corporate partnerships are her next creative pursuit

Camille feels excited about her new opportunities for partnerships and collaboration. She has begun to partner with new clients as a brand ambassador and develop signature cocktail recipes. In a recent partnership with Thrillist, she created recipes with Smirnoff Peach Lemonade and Pink Lemonade.

"I have a whole planning process where I like to sit down and sort of map out what I want to do, not whether it's like a video or a photo, thinking about the different props and the glassware. And the story that I want to tell. And for me, that has been my favorite part, and to be paid for that is insane."

Camille hopes to continue partnering with different commercial brands, being able to use her creative approach for a variety of other clients. She hopes to expand the viewpoint that cocktails can be made with various other ingredients without alcohol and harness delicious, unique flavors. 

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