A semi-frantic mother packing her son off to camp for the first time can wind up contemplating advice from spurious sources.
This explains why I kept turning these two bits of information around in my head at the end of last month: 1.) The going rate for the services of a professional organizer in New York to put together a child’s camp trunk is $250 an hour; and 2.) According to a short article that relied on anonymous sources, right after New York parents hustle their little ones off to camp, the debauchery ensues, with parties that include “pot, magic mushrooms, ecstasy and group sex.”
Packing a camp trunk is well worth any money you could afford to pay someone to do it. I’m skeptical of the second story mostly because only Scooby Doo refers to psychedelic mushrooms as “magic.”
But just imagining that there are parents out there who fill their child-free summer nights with the kind of energetic activities described in this story put extra pressure on me to live up to my potential. My escapades are better suited to the pages of The N&O than The New York Post, however. What follows is not a definitive list, but rather three drinks to have in Raleigh while your child is away at camp:
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Troy Manhattan at the Wild Turkey Lounge in the Angus Barn: A few hours after our son was secured in the top bunk of a sweltering, AC-free cabin with a week’s supply of clean socks, a clip-on fan and boundless enthusiasm to see him through the week, my husband and I sequestered ourselves in a high-top table at the Wild Turkey Lounge at the Angus Barn. The Barn is renowned as a family-friendly institution, but the Wild Turkey Lounge is a haven for those who seek good steak and drink sans children – and hipsters. The cow-hide upholstery, feathered taxidermy and unique poultry-themed stained glass flourishes lend the loft space the air of a great-uncle’s hunting lodge while its diverse clientele make it one of the best places in the Triangle to people watch. One can wait out the rush hour while watching grandparents from Angier brush elbows with first-class travelers Facetiming in Japanese as they await their flights at RDU. The specialty drinks menu is short, but modern and local with updated versions of the classics, including the Troy Manhattan made with N.C.-distilled Troy & Sons’ moonshine in place of rye. The concoction puts the spotlight on the smoothness of the spirit and completes the mood.
Rising Sun at Garland: Serendipity’s role in summer cannot be overstated. And you know fate is smiling on you when half a dozen of your favorite women are simultaneously available for dinner without children or husbands on the same night. For this occasion, we chose Garland, a place where women can share small plates of Indian cuisine and raise glasses to a few hours of women-talk. Start the evening with the Rising Sun, a dainty glass of gin, Lillet Rouge, Galliano and cherry tomato shrub, which gives it a sweet, sturdy tang that beautifully captures the essence of late-summer sunsets. It’s cool without being too hip.
Crispin Pear Cider at Snooker’s Bar and Billiards: This is the best bar you’ve never been to. That’s probably because you always see the sign when you’re running errands at Ridgewood Shopping Center and put it on the list of places to check out. Pool players and dart lovers cherish it, though, for its endless yards of well-kept felt and tidy dart sets. The windowless underground setting recalls an earlier time, and the bartenders are fast and friendly. If you have the chance to spirit your husband away for a game or two of darts, this is the place. The bar menu offers plenty of options, including old-school drink specials and fresher finds like Crispin Pear Cider, which I found perfect for washing down a bag of Bugles from behind the bar.
Upon retrieving our son from camp, I found that my efforts to pack the perfect camp trunk were unnecessary. Half the clean socks never made it out of the trunk. He had the best week ever anyway. Our week was pretty good, too, no magic mushrooms needed.
Amber Nimocks is a former News & Observer food editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.