Behind the Stick with Ashley Wardle of BaRV
Ashley Wardle, owner of BaRV and General Manager at Sycamore Den, has turned a 1976 RV, that she bought for $1,500, into an awesome mobile bar. From a beat down RV to a new and improved retro-inspired RV, Ashley shares her story on how her mobile bar came to life.
How did the concept come about?
After months of traveling cross country in the RV, I settled down in Brooklyn, and started working at a bar. As a hobby, I started making drinks in the RV that were too weird for the menu at work and invited friends to come drink them, and BaRV was born.
What's the mission for BaRV?
To build a mobile bar empire! Just kidding, the mission is to do something fun and creative, maybe make a little money and when it stops being fun, I will stop doing it.
How complex are you willing to go with the libations?
Having a bar that seats seven people where I can change the menu from event to event means I have the flexibility to be as obscure or simplistic as I want. I love learning and trying new techniques and combinations. The BaRV has really given me a space to experiment with those things, but I also think drinks with few ingredients and classic techniques are amazing when done well.
How has San Diego being responding to this concept?
It’s very new, so I don’t think I could say definitively but people seem to really like the concept, I mean what’s not to love about a fully operational bar that can pull up to any party and start making drinks?
What's one favorite memory you have experienced so far with BaRV?
In 2015, I had the wild idea to drive BaRV from Brooklyn to New Orleans for Tales of a Cocktail with four bartenders who didn’t know each other. We broke down in rural Alabama and we were stuck there for a few days. I remember drinking Bahama Mamas at Applebee’s with everyone and laughing so hard I fell out of my chair. While we never made it to Tales, we had such a good time we all got matching RV tattoos.
The concept is clever, so is the name. What type of clientele will you be catering to?
Thank you! I will be catering to anyone that wants to book an RV bar. Weddings, festivals, house parties, you name it, I’m game.
About Ashley Wardle
Are you from San Diego?
I’m from Long Beach, and I came down here for grad school in 2009.
How did you get into bartending?
Accidentally. I was working at a golf course driving the beer cart, and loving it when a bartender didn’t show up for their shift. The managers threw me behind the bar to pour beer and make rum and cokes. That was all it took, I loved the feeling of being behind a bar and making people happy.
How has your journey been since taking on the role as GM at Sycamore Den?
This job has undoubtedly been the highlight of my bartending career. I get to work with and develop fun cocktail menus with some of my closest friends, and build relationships with our amazing regulars and new guests that support us and keep us in business. I have also been forced to grow as a leader and bartender which has been uncomfortable at times, but I feel like I am becoming a stronger more confident version of myself almost daily.
Comparing San Diego to the other cities you've experience bartending, how are we holding out?
San Diego is a great city to be making drinks in. The community is so supportive, we are constantly going to each other’s bars and supporting our friends programs. The cocktail scene is young and there is plenty of room for growth but I think we are on track to be and eating and drinking destination.
Define the perfect cocktail.
The fourth one of the night is usually the perfect one for me.
What's your favorite cocktail to make behind the bar?
I like to have conversations with people about what they are looking for and then try to make something tailored to them. When they take a sip and are totally satisfied, that’s my favorite cocktail to make.
What's your favorite spirit?
Today: I’m loving Barr Hill Gin. They are a small distillery out of Vermont that started as an apiary and now they are making a lovely gin with honey they harvest. Barr Hill also teaches beekeeping classes at local schools, and that’s a lot of my favorite things in one sentence.
What's next for you?
Becoming a better GM. I have only been doing it for a few months, so I would like to focus on being better for the staff and the bar before I start thinking about my next adventure. But I always have a side project or two going, so look out for some cool events happening at sycamore den and in BaRV.