ArtEffects 5/12/19

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HAVE BAR, WILL TRAVEL
Delivering craft cocktails to you.

WRITTEN BY ANN LINDEMANN

photo by Calvin Hobson
Jeff Edwards and Angela Ceccarelli, owners of Petite Street and Derby Bar. Photo by Calvin Hobson

A new trend has rolled into town: mobile bars that bring the good times right to your locale, be it an al fresco wedding, an atypical company happy hour, or even a backcountry shindig.

Here you’ll discover creative Reno-Tahoe bartenders who are shaking up the bar scene by taking their mixology magic on the road.

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Garden to Glass garnishes feature plants harvested around Lake Tahoe, including juniper, yarrow, elderberries, wormwood, and Truckee crabapples. These are complemented by homemade elderberry syrup, limoncello, and fresh citrus.

Petite Street and Derby Bar

As many campers can attest, the great outdoors is the ideal place for creative brainstorming. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you also happen to be sipping a luscious craft cocktail, as was the case with Angela Ceccarelli and Jeff Edwards.

“It happened on a camping trip to Canada,” Edwards recalls. “One night we were enjoying what would have been like a $12 cocktail … and we made these ripping little cocktails in the back of a Toyota camper. That’s when we had the idea: ‘We can do this!’”

It certainly helps that the Reno couple has almost 20 years of high-end bartending chops between them. Ceccarelli, 30, honed her bartending skills in Reno at the Lakeridge Golf Club and Napa-Sonoma Grocery Co., and later Moody’s in Truckee. Edwards, also 30, learned the intricacies of craft cocktail chemistry at LuLou’s and Beaujolais Bistro in Reno, and, finally, Restaurant Trokay in Truckee.

After scouring the entire state, the couple ultimately found their dream trailer in their own Reno neighborhood.

Admittedly, the circa-1959 vintage “canned ham” trailer had a ways to go before it rolled into the tricked-out mobile bar spotlight. Fortunately, Edwards has a father who is a skilled carpenter and a brother who knows his way around electricity and plumbing.

Today, the 14-foot-long Petite Street trailer looks nothing like what Ceccarelli and Edwards say was a “scary” vehicle languishing in that Reno backyard. The fully operational mobile bar features a fresh, white exterior, a hand-hewn wooden bar, and a two-tap kegerator for draft beers. They recently added to the fleet, transforming a smaller vintage horse trailer into the Derby Bar, offering four tap handles.

photo by Kay Kroshus
Petite Street brings its mobile bar services to events and weddings. Photo by Kay Kroshus

The Petite Street trailer debuted in May 2017, and in the first year of operation the couple did 15 weddings.

“Now we are booking into 2020,” Ceccarelli reports.

Their menu includes such delectable cocktails as a Spicy Moscow Mule, made with vodka, spicy roasted black peppercorn and ginger syrup, and fresh lime juice. Another favorite is their Rosemary Greyhound, with rosemary-infused vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Edwards says guests also rave about the unusual Strawberry Jalapeño Smash that leaves a lovely tingly sensation at the back of the throat. The Petite Street Honey Lavender Fizz includes locally sourced honey and lavender that the two harvest themselves.

Rosemary greyhound
Ceccarelli mixes up a rosemary greyhound. Photo by Kay Kroshus

For this travel-loving duo — who don’t mind rubbing elbows in small spaces — the mobile bar business is the perfect fit.

“You can have a dream, but if you don’t act on it then it just fizzles off into oblivion,” Edwards says.

Garden to Glass Mobile Mixology

Michelle Stohlgren takes the term locally sourced to a whole different level with spirits that are created from plants foraged in the Tahoe-Truckee region.

“I took an edible and medicinal plant course, which I absolutely loved,” she says. “It opened my eyes to all these things that are frequently found in the wild that can be made into cocktails.”

Stohlgren says her “gateway plant” was the herb wormwood.

“It’s a highly used ingredient in spirits known for its dry, bitter taste, as in vermouth,” she says, adding that it’s easy to harvest without hurting the plant.

After bartending at the popular craft cocktail mecca Truckee Tavern for three years, Stohlgren was ready for a change.

“I love the backcountry and I thought, ‘What can I do that puts me outside more?’”

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        Michelle Stohlgren, owner of Garden to Glass Mobile                  Stohlgren mixes a crabapple and yarrow old fashioned 
          Mixology, mixes cocktails with ingredients sourced                    with locally foraged bitters, served over a giant rock.
                   from the Tahoe-Truckee region.

Stohlgren, 36, is drawn to the health and wellness aspects of the cocktail ingredients that date back to pre-Prohibition days. Her mission is to promote sustainability through the use of locally foraged specialty flavors and repurposed ingredients with minimal packaging.

Today her niche is what she calls “backyard to backcountry,” offering a rustic mobile set-up for weddings, happy hours, and corporate retreats in the Tahoe-Truckee region. Not only does she supply distinctive signature Tahoe cocktails, but she can also set up a DIY station where folks can select their favorite natural ingredients.

Stohlgren also offers wilderness bartending classes, which feature a foraging hike followed by a lesson in how to use the bounty in cocktails.

Wondering what types of spirits can be conjured up with local plants? Try a citrus liqueur made with an assortment of locally foraged plants (wormwood, angelica, yarrow, Douglas fir, and cedar) combined with organic citrus, spices, and honey.

Another favorite is the nonalcoholic elderberry cordial syrup made with freshly picked elderberries and sweetened with local Tahoe honey. This flavorful syrup is a wonderful addition to cocktails and can be poured over pancakes, too.

“Plus, elderberries are a wellness powerhouse and are commonly used to combat colds,” Stohlgren says.

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Tahoe apertivo made by Stohlgren with locally foraged plants and berries, served over a rock with a lemon twist

She says people respond to the authenticity of beverages made from locally foraged ingredients as it gives them a greater respect for the natural world.

Writer Ann Lindemann fantasizes about a trendy, mobile craft cocktail bar nestled next to her humble backyard ping-pong table. She believes her hand-eye coordination can only be enhanced by rosemary-infused vodka. Find her at Annlindemann.com.

Resources

Petite Street
For details and pricing, visit Petitestreetbistro.com

Garden to Glass

619-977-7593 • Gardentoglassmixology.com

Other enterprising mixologists are hitching their wagons to the Reno-Tahoe mobile bartending trend. For one-stop mobile bartending services for small and large events, try: 

100 Proof Bar Service
1400 U.S. Hwy. 395, Gardnerville
775-386-2149 • 100proofbarservice.com

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