Booze on wheels: Canberra's new love of mobile bars

As flowers turn to the sun, as loungeroom furniture faces the TV, so to do party guests gravitate to the bar. Or cocktail station. Or beverage trough. Whatever you call it, a new trend has rolled into town: bars on wheels ready to transform any space into a good time.

Canberra mobile bars like The Pop Inn, Nellie and now Lenton Bar are set to quench the thirsts of folks around town this spring.

For the past few years, vintage cocktail caravans have road-tripped the west coast of the US. In the UK, prosecco vans have popped up at major festivals like Glastonbury. And now we're catching on.

Lenton Bar is Canberra's newest mobile bar.
From left, Manuk Samarasinghe, Amit Oberoi, and Matt Harris. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Lenton Bar is Canberra's newest mobile bar. From left, Manuk Samarasinghe, Amit Oberoi, and Matt Harris. Photo: Jamila Toderas

As Canberrans become more outdoors-focused in the warmer months, mobile bars are gearing up for spring weddings, garden parties and themed corporate events.

The mobility of these services are changing the way we pick our party venues. Think vineyards, paddocks, reserves, warehouses, car parks, streets, your own front yard. The portability makes for a DIY alfresco atmosphere, allowing the bar to be the focus at any outdoor location.

Events are no longer limited to the indoor spaces you grew up partying in. While practical, getting on the turps at Canberra's cultural clubs and scout halls isn't all that easy on the eye.

According to a 2018 Australian wedding survey, the most popular wedding locations included gardens, vineyards and beaches.

There's even been a movement from traditional forms of partying, with less people frequenting traditional indoor bars and clubs and more looking to outdoor events, music festivals and alternative venues for fun.

LENTON BAR

"One thing we've noticed is more people steering away from traditional bricks and mortar bars and clubs. What they want is a unique experience, and one they can control," Lenton Bar co-founder Amit Oberoi said.

Lenton Bar brings the party, wherever it may be. From left, Manuk Samarasinghe, Amit Oberoi, and Matt Harris. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Lenton Bar brings the party, wherever it may be. From left, Manuk Samarasinghe, Amit Oberoi, and Matt Harris. Photo: Jamila Toderas

"That's where our mobile bar comes in. We can deliver fun events, games, food and drinks, a unique experience just for the clients. And hopefully get them outside and into the sun because we're so versatile with the mobility of our bar and where we can set up."

Fitted to a trailer, Lenton Bar brings the party, wherever it may be.

Oberoi recently started the business with Manuk Samarasinghe and Matt Harris, who are both designers by trade. All the guys have "long histories" in hospitality.

Throughout all the birthday parties, corporate events, markets and weddings Lenton has catered, they've found that Canberrans mainly love a Southside cocktail, a gin and tonic and beers by Capital Brewing Co.

The bar regularly partners with event planning companies Love Letters Canberra and Fox Meets Bear, as well as platter vendor Nibble and Nourish.

"We pride ourselves on working and collaborating with other businesses. We work with other local vendors who share a similar market to us, so we can grow together."

With their licence allowing them to operate from 7am-12am, it's fit for those wanting to party into the night, and for die-hards looking to kick things off with a champagne brekkie.

NELLIE

Nellie is a mobile bar servicing the Canberra region. Photo: Anthoz Media

Nellie is a mobile bar servicing the Canberra region. Photo: Anthoz Media

This "local neighbourhood" van by the name of 'Nellie' road trips around Canberra and surrounds for fetes, parties, weddings and high teas. Its classic black and white frame also offers a deeply Instagrammable touch for your shindig. Next month, Nellie will feature at Canberra's Handmade Markets.

CARAVAN MORRISON
CaraVan Morrison services the Canberra and south coast region with their custom drink menus. Some of their seasonal offerings include local craft beer on tap, homemade limoncello and if you're lucky, 10-20 litre cocktail kegs.

THE POP INN

The Pop Inn serves up a storm in Haig Park. Photo: The Pop Inn

The Pop Inn serves up a storm in Haig Park. Photo: The Pop Inn

If wine is your particular poison, meet The Pop Inn. It's an artfully designed pop-up wine bar, the first of its kind in Canberra. They regularly pour up a storm at local events, sometimes bringing along fairy lights and live jazz.

MY SWEET ALICE

My Sweet Alice mobile cafe and bar in Canberra. Photo: Megan Kelly

My Sweet Alice mobile cafe and bar in Canberra. Photo: Megan Kelly

While the retro van is known for its homemade sweet treats, it also "loves a party". For Canberra's weddings, corporate events, bridal showers and birthday parties it transforms into a bar serving champagne, beer, wine and cider.