Drinks to the Rescue
It was a six-alarm idea – more like genius, when Deborah Hanson came up with the notion of starting a bar-on-wheels, called Napa Valley Cocktail Company. The genius part is that they serve cocktails at special events from a vintage fire truck. His name is Charlie
He’s a little 1929 Chevrolet American LaFrance Cosmopolitan fire truck that hails from Irvington, Indiana, where he served a very small community back in his day. “These trucks are rare,” said Hanson, a Napa resident with husband Ray since 1972. It’s a bit ironic, but more like one of several ‘signs’ that Charlie – a Cosmopolitan – was destined to be a cocktail bar on wheels in his near-retired life.
With three years of research, renovations, customizing and polishing, topped off with a beautiful LED-lit bar and umbrella, Hanson says Charlie provides first-class cocktails for any occasion. He’s also the perfect size that fit most events too. It all began when Deborah and Ray took a red-eye flight to Indianapolis to look at and ultimately purchase Charlie from Ralph Kramer and his son Chris, three years ago in Shelbyville, Indiana.
Once in Indiana and after some thoughtful negotiating, turns out the Hanson’s had mutual friends in common with the Kramer’s and forged a special friendship after the sale. “Are we the foster parents now?” asked Michelle Kramer, Chris’s wife, who together, have since enjoyed a tour of the Napa wine country, compliments of Destiny Wine Tours.
Now booking Charlie for events, Hanson says there’s no competition, because there’s nothing like Charlie in the market.
“If you’re looking for something different that’s really classic, cool and extremely functional, we can do Bloody Mary’s, Moscow Mules, margaritas, beer or even serve your favorite wines, all on tap,” said Hanson, a hair stylist by day.
“Basically, we customize kegged cocktails. Let’s say you’re doing signature wedding drinks and you want a pink cosmopolitan, we can put it on tap, or you want a Long Island iced tea, we can put that on tap for you too!”
Her husband Ray, who created Destiny Wine Tours, a luxury limousine service offering curated wine tours for the last 10 years in Napa Valley, sells their own wine called Destiny, an estate cabernet, which thoughtfully sports a red fireman’s cap on top of the bottle. The fact that Charlie, ties perfectly into their family’s firefighting background of the last few decades. “My father-in-law retired from the Oakland Fire Department, my husband Ray retired from firefighting in Alameda with 29 years of service, and my son Dustin is a fireman in Sacramento,” said Hanson. “Since I do hair and my husband runs the Destiny Wine Tours, this is our together business!” Hanson loves everything about Charlie, their Engine 29. “Charlie was a gift,” said Hanson. “Everything about it brings smiles.” When describing the truck to others, she said people typically nod and say ‘cool,’ but when they see it in person at an event, the wow-factor kicks in with over- whelming oohs and ahhs. “Once Charlie was primed for service, we were asked to participate in three major fire relief fundraisers,” said Hanson. “I feel so blessed to be able to participate in such events that help our community so much.
Their benefit concert to support the Napa Valley Wildfire Foundation,” said Kathy Magner, hospitality director at Robert Mondavi Winery. “It was the perfect addition to this community benefit.”
Running Napa Valley Cocktail Company with Charlie definitely has its perks. “I love everything about it,” said Hanson. “It’s like a backstage pass when we do parties. We were at Alpha Omega Winery, parked on the lawn surrounded by beautiful tables, food and people danc- ing. Everything about it – brought smiles!” Whether you’re renting Charlie, the fire engine mobile bar for two hours or six, Hanson says everything is customizable, from the spirits to the hours of service. It’s like a conversation piece on wheels, but with bubbly instead of a 3-inch, high-pres- sured hose spouting water 80 gallons per minute. “We will have your event stand out, because it’s so cool and unique,” said Hanson. “It’s self-contained and we provide premium cocktails of your choice. We add an element that no one else can!”
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Article By: Charleen Earley