Tiffany Unger, Owner of Wandering Sidecar Bar
We recently visited Tiffany in Warrenton, Missouri at a gorgeous property where huge skies overlooked three spiffy Wandering Sidecar Bars, which she takes to various festivals and events — like a food truck, but with booze! We chatted with Tiffany about her business and photographed the vehicles that have been rehabbed with love. Each bar showcases the vehicle’s original charm while adding a modern touch, with rustic wood trim, chalkboard signs, and cute white tile. They are completely outfitted to serve you all of your beverage needs. They travel to different events, parties and festivals in the Saint Louis (and beyond!) area delivering bars and bartenders to serve up cocktails, beer, wine and more. The Wandering Sidecar Bars have completely stolen our hearts. They are quaint and beautiful, plus they bring alcohol almost anywhere!
Tell us about The Wandering Sidecar Bar.
The Wandering Sidecar Bar Company is a mobile beverage catering company that uniquely works from our three renovated vintage caravan bars. We began in 2015 by renovating our old, rusty 1961 Avalon camper, Ruthie. Over the past two years, we have added our 1967 Holi horse trailer bar, Birdie and a 1969 Chevy farm truck bar, Big Red. In addition, we have handmade indoor bars we can bring along or we can work from an existing bar.
What services do you offer?
Our team specializes in crafted cocktails and really strives to bring an elevated beverage experience to our events. We differ from your traditional bar service not only because we bring really cool bars to your event space, but also because we fully customize each drink menu to meet the needs of our clients. We specialize in all kinds of events including weddings, showers, birthday parties, corporate events, and festivals.
What kinds of cocktails can you whip up in that camper?
I look at cocktail menus pretty obsessively when I’m out for inspiration. I personally don’t try to get too fancy with it though I appreciate a lot of those flavors. Usually, I’m aiming to take a recognizable cocktail and elevate it a bit. I love making syrups. I’ve recently been messing around with shrubs and even tried my own tonic. Last year, our most popular cocktail by far was Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade. The tartness of the lemonade paired with the sweetness of the blackberry syrup is really the perfect refreshing summer cocktail. It was so tasty that after we served it at Strange Folk and 4th of July at The Pat Connolly Tavern, we booked a few events just because they loved that cocktail so much. I mean, we are nothing without great cocktails so I really work hard at perfecting what works, but also trying new things. You can have the cutest little camper bar around, but if your cocktails taste like shit, no one is going to call you. Tasty crowd-pleasing cocktails and skilled, friendly bartenders are really what we focus on most. During the warmer months in the evening, you can usually find us outside sipping on something. We live in a 1929 bungalow with a big front porch that has become a great gathering spot for our friends and neighbors and they are always pretty down to be my official taste-testers. Most of the cocktails that end up being served stem from a Friday night porch party.
We stalked your Insta feed a little. How did you come up with the idea for boozy pops?
Our boozy popsicles came about when I was planning a float trip last summer with some girlfriends. I wanted to bring something different and a little beyond the typical “jungle juice” that I used to whip up 10 years ago. I started with just a few flavors and then got so excited about what I was tasting that I did a bunch. I made Melon and Mint, Strawberry Basil Mule, Blood Orange Old Fashioned, Whiskey and Coke, Cucumber Mint Sweet Tea and Urban Chestnut Ku’damm Berry. They are so good! They can be a little tricky to keep frozen, but with a little dry ice they made it most of the way through a 100 plus degree July day. They have been the most fun thing to play around with and my freezer is usually stocked with them because I try to come up with new flavors all the time. The only problem is explaining to my twin boys that those are for the big kids.
What drew you to entrepreneurship, specifically this line of work?
I had just given birth to my two sons, Sam and Otis, earlier in the year and was trying to figure out a way to bring in income and still work mostly from home. I spent most months trying to not only find something that could be somewhat lucrative, but also something that I enjoyed. One October afternoon after a long day of chasing babies, I sat down to a beer and a magazine on the front porch. I was casually flipping through and bam…there it was. There was a photo of a woman from New Zealand in this beautifully remodeled camper bar and I was just awestruck. I ripped it out and put it on my fridge that day. I became obsessed and just stared lovingly every time I went into the kitchen. I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to do this and two weeks later I was in the middle of a farm field in Illinois buying an old camper. Six months later we launched.
Have you overcome any business flops?
I’m a self-diagnosed “yes person”. Not only do I not want to let others down, but I also suffer from a serious case of FOMO. I tend to want to be a apart of everything and the worst feeling in the world as a business owner is feeling as if you missed out on an opportunity. I’m learning that saying no to certain things is sometimes best and I’m a much better person and business owner if I’m not overextended. I’m working on this. My husband really suffers the most from my shortcomings and I’m so lucky that he loves me. I would have thrown my stressed out, overachiever ass to the curb long ago.
Pick one thing you do really well in relation to your work.
I have learned that you have to put yourself out there. Being a business owner is all about having the balls to go for it. You cannot depend on luck and you have to take risks. I’m not the most outgoing person, but I really have pushed myself to connect with other business owners and industry folks. These have been rewarding relationships and now friendships that I really value. Collaboration has been key for us and I really try to facilitate lasting and strong relationships.
What are you most proud of?
Gosh, so much. I’m proud that we did it. I’m extremely proud of the service we offer and of our staff. I’m mostly proud of the bars though. These trailers and trucks were just sitting unused in farm fields. They are now these beautiful bars that bring people together. I just think that is the coolest thing.
Share a favorite story about your business.
About three months after we launched, we were asked to do LouFest. It was by far the biggest event we had been a part of with mostly weddings and corporate gigs behind us. There was a huge, nasty storm the night before and we worked our butts off through the mud to get set up and ready to go in time. People began to filter into the VIP area and the response to the camper bar was overwhelming. Some of St. Louis’s best bartenders came in as guest bartenders and were mixing amazing and flavorful cocktails. I was standing on the side mesmerized by a line over 30 deep just smiling and socializing. I glanced over to my husband standing about six feet away and our eyes just welled with tears and he came and gave me a big hug. He said, “You did this. This was all you.” I had a lot of encouragement and love along the way, but it was so rewarding and emotional to have that acknowledgement and to see such a positive reaction to this little idea that came into our lives less than 12 months before.