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The Mobile Bar

The great night out may be about to become the great night in

Instead of punters going out to a bar, the argument is, the bar should come to them. The attractions including personalized drinks and cocktail menus, flexible serving times, easy travel, your own choice of music and company - no worries about transport before or after, and no hassles over the likes of smoking and mobile phones. In fact all the party giver has to decide is when they want to have the party, how many people to invite - and whether they want any theme to the drinks, or any drinks in particular. Basically, they just go with the flow.

If you know a member’s club as flexible as that you are lucky. And certainly no evening out at any bar or three will be half so flexible or relaxed. But then it is the stock-in-trade of the mobile bar industry. Of course, some see the phenomenon as a distinct threat to the normal bar as we know it. The mobile phenomenon is no reason for pukka bar operators to start crying into their martinis. In fact, mobile mixology actually benefits ‘fixed’ bars by opening people’s minds to new possibilities in cocktails and generally making it easier for them to make discoveries.

There are weighty social and political issues that affect the mobile bar industry positively as well, in fact, good reasons this particular mobile party phenomenon is becoming so popular: * The recent breaches of security - 9/11 and 7/7 - mean that some are now wary of going out so often, certainly of travelling by public transport.

* 24-hour drinking may lead to a rise in drunken behaviour in town and city centres, giving those that want to party good reason for not wanting to be out after dark.

* The soon-to-be-imposed ban on smoking gives smokers (albeit only 20% of the population, that's still over 10 million people) no reason to want to join their friends for social occasions in public drinking venues.

* The still-poor transport network leaves many people scurrying for the exit at 11.05pm, determined not to have to pay extortionate black cab fares home.

* Many are now worried that unless they pay the expense of a London black cab, they may be gambling on an unlicensed mini-cab driver.

Of course, what the mobile bar operation offers in huge measures is CHOICE - music, guest list, dress code, smoking, food, reputable local cabs, opening and closing times, and of course the drinks themselves. Long, short, strong, weak, red, blue, still, sparkling, sweet, sour, hot, cold..the list of adjectives one can apply to the repertoire of drinks in a polished bartender's armoury is endless.

And for those that can't or won’t drink alcohol (or drink very little), for whatever reason, the mobile mixologist can lay on a far more interesting and sympathetic range of options than is currently offered to them in most public venues. Smoothies, fresh juice-based concoctions, frozen fruit cocktails, alcohol-free takes on standard classics - the conventional offering of "Water or orange juice, Madam?" to designated drivers or expectant mothers doesn't apply here.

Nor does the issue of licensing in most cases, as a homeowner or business proprietor is allowed to offer all manner of drinks to whomsoever he or she chooses, providing the drinks are not being sold and the invitations are extended to pre-invited guests only.

So where's the catch? Well, admittedly, as regards the cost of putting these sort of parties on, it is leagues above the "White wine and cans are in the fridge, help yourself to red" type of DIY party. But there again, nothing in life is free, certainly nothing as good as this. You can, however, opt for the bartenders-only scenario, whereby you provide drinks and glasses and the expert cocktail bar staff bring their equipment, along with lashings of personality and charm to fire the party up.

However, let it not be forgotten that whichever way you choose to do this, this is YOUR OWN private cocktail bar with your very own personal bartenders; you as the host will have little more to do than the rest of the guests, except to invite anyone you want to impress and order them an amazing tasting cocktail and watch their eyes light up.

This article was kindly contributed by David Hurst -