FOR YOUR NEXT ALFRESCO SOIREE, TRY CURATED COCKTAILS HANDCRAFTED OUT OF A BAR ON WHEELS.
Elevate your next backyard party with bespoke cocktails served from a fleet of ingenious mobile bars. PHOTO BY JULIA VANDENOEVER/COURTESY OF COCKTAIL CARAVAN
COCKTAIL CARAVAN, a boutique beverage catering business, brings whimsy and atmosphere to private gatherings with farm-to-bar cocktails served from a range of mobile bar options. The company’s flagship mobile conveyance is a vintage 1960s caravan renovated and converted into a bar that travels around Colorado. Lolita, as it’s affectionately known, features butcher-block countertops, birch walls and emerald green velvet seating.
Cocktail Caravan’s new bike bar. BIKE PHOTO BY CRYSTAL SAGAN/COURTESY OF COCKTAIL CARAVAN
This summer, the company is adding both a bicycle bar (yes, a bicycle with a bar mounted on the handlebars) and a vintage three-wheeled Piaggio Ape whose side wall opens up to reveal taps for sparkling wine, kombucha or craft beer. These new mobile bars can be combined with Lolita for larger events or serve as stand-alone cocktail service for smaller affairs.
Cocktail Caravan founder Crystal Sagan was pursuing a career in publishing in the early 2000s. A former bartender, she continued to create bar programs for parties as a side gig. “I did a wedding for 300 and served cucumber margaritas, handmuddling each one,” she says. “I never did any marketing, but people just kept calling.”
In 2016, she left the magazine business to focus on Cocktail Caravan, basing the fledgling company out of Boulder. Today Sagan curates cocktail menus for clients, working with caterers and chefs to thoughtfully pair the drinks to the menu. (Because of Colorado laws, clients must purchase the alcohol; Cocktail Caravan does the rest.) “It’s a high-touch, elevated experience,” Sagan says. Each event is fully customized, whether it’s an intimate dinner for two or a big wedding.
The company’s Lolita bar after dark. LOLITA PHOTO BY SARAH ROSHAN/COURTESY OF COCKTAIL CARAVAN
The company also supports local Colorado growers like Oxford Gardens and Black Cat Farms to source seasonal ingredients—from carrots and cherry tomatoes to Western Slope peaches and cantaloupes.
Sagan’s pandemic pivot was to bottle handmade fresh-pressed cocktail mixers using locally sourced ingredients. The mixers can be ordered as part of Sagan’s new Community Supported Cocktails program. Members get a bottle per week (enough for five cocktails) available for delivery or pickup, depending on location. A light, refreshing favorite is the Garden Gimlet, made with cucumber, ginger, basil, serrano and lime. The ginger gives it a bit of zing; basil adds a layer of complexity and herbaceousness.
Sagan also hosts mixology classes (lately they’ve been held virtually), teaching tips and tricks, offering recipes and imparting history around the cocktails. “My main goal is empowering the home bartender,” she says. “Cocktails should be approachable, fun and creative.” 720.598.2998, cocktailcaravan.com
PHOTO BY CRYSTAL SAGAN/COURTESY OF COCKTAIL CARAVAN
ROSE LEMON SPRITZER
This light and lovely sipper from Cocktail Caravan brightens summer with a blend of citrus and rose.
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
¾ oz. rose tea
1½ oz. Breckenridge vodka
1 oz. unflavored sparkling water
Flowers for garnish
TO MAKE SIMPLE SYRUP
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool before use. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
TO MAKE ROSE TEA
In a small saucepan, add 1 Tbsp. dried rose petals to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer for 5 minutes. (A longer simmer will result in stronger flavors, and vice versa.)
Note: Find food-grade dried rose petals at a local apothecary like Savory Spice.
TO ASSEMBLE THE DRINK
Squeeze fresh lemon juice into a shaker and add simple syrup, ice, rose tea and vodka. Cover and shake for 5 seconds. In a glass with fresh ice, add sparkling water. Top with contents of shaker, stir and garnish with a flower.
Note: Be sure to select food-grade flowers, which have not been sprayed with chemicals.