By Marisa Marsey

These trendy cocktail carts and other mobile bars are coming to an event near you

Drinking and driving don’t mix. Unless the drinks are driven to you by a mobile bar, the high-octane trend making the rounds on the special events circuit. With Piaggio Apes dispensing Aperol spritzes, retrofitted campers curating cocktails and converted horse trailers coursing with craft beer and wine, potent potables have never been so portable.

Their popularity has accelerated as weddings, corporate affairs and other shindigs shift gears from traditional venues to unconventional locales like barns and baseball fields. Customizable, they can be jacked up for grown-up guzzlers, roll alcohol-free, or both, like at a recent toddler’s birthday party featuring themed tipples for frazzled parents and Italian sodas and juices for the kiddos.

Due to Virginia ABC laws, hosts have to supply the “adult beverages,” but these creative entrepreneurs, working in tandem with you or your caterer, will rev up the party with most everything else. Even motif-matching signs and strung lights.

As the owner of one of these turbocharged drinks trolleys told us, “This adds a layer of cool to the festivities.” So if you’re seeking that je ne sais “quaff” your guests will be talking about long after the party’s over, check out these movers and shakers…

Get Cozy
For the widest range of vintage vehicles: Get Cozy. Richmond-native Rachel Lintvet pioneered bars-on-wheels after she and her husband, a wine distributor, noticed them gaining traction in Europe. From mid-century caravans to prosecco/microbrew mini-trucks, they boast up to seven taps. Food, too. Headquartered in Northern Virginia, these wheels service the entire Old Dominion. Three years ago Lintvet began franchising; Cozy now covers more than a dozen states including Hawaii.

Rosie The Vintage Bar Cart
This pert, imported Piaggio Ape (a three-wheel adaptation of sibling Vespa scooter; in Italian vespa means wasp, ape means bee), ordered from Get Cozy, doesn’t rack up miles residing at the Tides Inn in Irvington, but she embodies her motto “Let the good times roll” by adding buzz to on-property revels with rosé wine, rosé cider beer and more. Like the grande dame waterfront resort, she’s a classic.

Coastal Cocktail Carts
Sarah Campbell and Alexander Ellis spiffed up a rusted horse trailer, outfitting it with a two-tap draft bar system, and launched their business spanning Virginia Beach to New Kent in June. Along with signature packages, they offer an à la “cart” menu (including lawn games!) to suit any bash. Most important, the Peninsula-based couple can genuinely relate to the pressure of planning a wedding. They’re getting hitched next year.

The Sip Social
Jess Aubrey spied a camper-cum-bar on Pinterest and thought, “I could do that.” When she discovered a 1969 DeCamp for sale two miles away, two days later, she deemed it a sign and started peddling sips in 2019. When the pandemic curbed gatherings, she customized cocktail toppers (edible ink on wafer paper) to sell on Etsy. With events reignited, they’re a feature she offers clients as her travel trailer motors mainly two hours from Fredericksburg. Her fleet also comprises tap bikes.

The Watering Hole
Coca-Cola alum Mike Dunlavey jokes that he converted a 1965 Chevrolet C30 flatbed to a mobile bar to escape his own wedding planning. Four years later, “Haggard” (honoring Eric Church’s “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag”) has lubricated receptions throughout Virginia with four taps rigged for everything from wine to nitro coffee to lemon/limeades (faves at farmers’ markets). Celebrated for their glassware (mason jars, goblets), Dunlavey and partner Ana Cordic are tinkering on truck number two.

Tip Top Tap Truck & Mobile Tap Bars
“Draft beer events can be cheesy, like college parties,” says Michael Stump. Not so with his meticulously-rebuilt 1964 Ford F-350 pick-up dispensing up to six kegs of foamless microbrews, cocktails and more at gatherings throughout NoVa, even a celebration of life: “The guy loved beer,” states Stump. His growing enterprise includes a custom-designed tricycle and photo booths.

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