Camp Runamok: Where Bartenders Play
Posted by Ariela Kozin

Ah, summer camp: Memories of frog-catching, s'mores by the fire and seeing the sun rise, and then set, while drinking bourbon. For a group of hand-selected bartenders from across the country, this version of summer camp became a reality at Camp Runamok, the first-ever bartender summer camp dedicated solely to whiskey.

With distillery visits during the day and good old fashioned fun during the evenings, it was a memorable experience: "Being given the chance to learn more and see hands-on was the ultimate for me," explains Duane Fernandez Jr., an NYC-based cocktail consultant. "It was a true bartender's vacation!"

We've gathered a few of the most memorable experiences from two of the attendees, but don't worry if you missed out on the fun this time around because THE TASTING PANEL will keep you posted about Camp Runamok in 2013!

Here are their stories:

Dear Camp Runamok,

There are no words I can express about the emotions, created friendships, unity and a love for Bourbon you've awaken in me.

For myself, Camp Runamok helped check off some of my bucket list: 1. Camping 2. Smores by the camp fire 3. Camp fire sing-a-longs just to name a few. What more can a city boy like myself can ask for? Being in the middle of the woods smelling fresh air drinking Bourbon, seeing the sunrise over the moutains drinking Bourbon, watching the sunset while drinking Bourbon-it all felt like a dream.

Bourbon is my number #1 spirit, so given the chance to learn more and see hands-on was the ultimate for me. The visits to the distilleries solidified my love for the Old American Whiskey. The craftmanship and passion that these brands give to their products was unlike anything I had imagined. The stories and history about these brands put me back in time and left me with a clear message from our gracious host: We are a brotherhood and we take care of each other. That's when the aha moment hit and I finally understood the real reason why we were here!!

I was honored just to be selected and at such a cool camp experience was amazing.  I have gotten the chance to actually get to know many people I had come to admire over the years and opened myself up so they could learn a little more about me. Camp Runamok was intimate and personal; a true bartender's vacation. I have formed lifelong friendships and secured bonds I had never had before Camp Runamok.

Lush Life has created something special that I hope many get to experience in years to come. I know I want to continue to be a part of the project as I am a part of Camp Runamok's First Champions! 


Duane Fernandez Jr
Bartender at ACME in New York, NY

Camp Runamok-

While there are a plethora of memories from my time at Camp Runamok, the greatest has to be all of the moments when I was able to personally connect to the brands and products. The ability to transform these brands from liquors I use in a cocktail to a personalized experience is a truly incredible opportunity:  from touching the kernels of corn at Buffalo Trace, tasting the 2-day-old mash in the vats at Four Roses, barrel tasting 11-year-old Bourbon in the Heaven Hill Rickhouse, and getting a guided tasting of Bulleit from Hollis herself. Every time I pick up one of those bottles, I will remember everything I learned at each of the distilleries and be able to take my knowledge and passion and pass it onto my customers and colleagues.


Pamela Wiznitzer,
Bartender at L'oubli in New York, New York

Camp Runamok's first campers:

Top Row: Carol Donovan, Rhachel Shaw, Rob Crabtree, Junior Ryan, Joseph Ambrose; Second Row: Nicole Battle, Lainey Collum, Danielle Crouch, Jabriel Donohue, Josh Durr; Third Row:  Pam Pritchard, Alba Huerta, Hollis Bulliet, Travis Tober, Erin Harris, Rocky Yeh, Erica Ordonez, Anu Apte; Bottom Row: Scott Douglas Baird, Chris Elford, Laura Clifton Byrne, Steve Schneider, Keith Waldbauer, Liz Pearce, Erica, Chris Hannah




Posted by Ariela Kozin on October 16, 2012 02:23 pm | Permalink 

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