Imagine a cocktail lounge in a shiny retro-fitted Airstream trailer — parked in your driveway. Or sitting outside your office park, or after your wedding ceremony, taking orders from guests. That is Hive: A full-service traveling aluminum bar, owned and operated by Graham H. McKissock and Lance Davis, Jamaica Plain compadres who believe alcoholic drinks should match the ambience and quality of detail paid to the rest of private events.
“We wanted to take the high-end cocktail lounge and put it in a mobile form,” says McKissock. Adds Davis: “We have friends who are creative craft beer producers or bartenders making drinks with unique ingredients. We want to give you that top level.”
Hive bar is 31 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 9 feet tall. The 1983 Airstream was dismantled and remodeled by McKissock and Davis over the course of three years. The interior is lined with repurposed cedar slats. A 12-foot wrap-around bar is located at one end, with stools, and a cozy cushioned seating area located at the other. An exterior bar window was also cut out on the side. The Airstream’s aluminum finish has been rebuffed to a high polish. “That took 250 hours,” McKissock says. “It was one of the hardest things we ever did.”
Davis, who has been in the restaurant and wine business for almost 20 years, and McKissock, a general contractor with a extensive knowledge of craft beers, work with hosts to develop a drinks menu tailored to the event. At her wedding this fall, Jennifer Freedson of Beverly says, “Hive was just killer.” Freedson, co-owner of the catering company, Chive Events, wanted cocktails made with liquor from Berkshire Mountain Distillers. One drink the trio crafted was bourbon with Madagascar vanilla beans, ginger ale, and blood oranges. Another was a pickle martini.
“I’m still getting compliments, which is cool as a host,” Freedson says. “I’m very selective. With Hive, the vibe was unbelievable and the service had the right balance of friendly and knowledgeable, and of keeping the party moving.”
Hiring Hive is not the way to go if you’re looking to save money on the bar set-up. Prices vary with the number of guests, but standard for 100 averages $1,500 to $2,000. More guests, and higher-end alcohol can push the price up between $2,500 and $5,000.
Davis’s wife, a lawyer, assists Hive in obtaining the necessary one-day liquor licenses and meeting the different liquor codes in area cities and towns. Brookline, for example, doesn’t require a license if Hive is parked on private property. Hive carries its own liquor liability insurance.
For now, Hive is a part-time endeavor that Davis and McKissock hope will grow into full-time work with more Airstream bars. They are lightly booked for the winter but already look busy for the spring and summer.
“It’s all been word of mouth,” McKissock says. “Weddings and big parties. Fortunately, we both have very gracious wives who help.”
Hive mobile barwww.hive-events.com