How to Turn Your Rolling Cooler Into a Mobile Outdoor Bar

Outdoor living calls for well-appointed outdoor bars––the more portable the better. Ryan Manning, professional barman, shared how he turns our rolling cooler into a mobile watering hole. We gave his advice a go, and we’re raising a glass to the outcome.



Essential Gear

There are a lot of options on the market when it comes to bar tools. Ryan’s personal policy is to buy once and buy for life whenever possible. You’ll never regret choosing high-quality options. He recommends packing the following:  

    • shaker set
    • strainer with tight coils
    • 2:1 jigger
    • durable hand juicer
    • Y-peeler
    • muddler (avoid those with teeth as they tear into herbs and citrus, extracting undesired bitterness)
    • bar spoon
    • charcuterie knife
    • wine key
    • cutting board
    • cocktail cups

There is no need to pack a bottle opener – the Rolling Cooler's zipper pull is equipped with one.

Essential Ingredients

These items will give you a variety of options for mixing drinks.

  • aromatic bitters
  • tinctures
  • garnish
  • lemon juice & lime juice
  • agave
  • club soda (in cans)
  • ice
  • liquor
  • accompanying syrups, bases, or special ingredients



Packing the Rolling Cooler

The Rolling Cooler shines for this application because of its height, which is perfect for tall bottle storage, and its large footprint which gives you plenty of space for cocktail ice plus liquor and any fresh juices or bases you may want to have on hand. You can easily fit a great selection of spirits and ingredients, allowing you more options and thus a better cocktail service. Weight isn’t an issue since your entire mobile outdoor bar is on wheels.


Large Compartment

  • Fill an 8-qt cambro container with ice. (A square-sided version packs the best, but we had a cylinder and it worked well, too.) Place the ice container on the right side of the main compartment, toward the back. 
  • In front of the ice, in separate containers, place garnishes such as limes, mint, rosemary, or Luxardo cherries. In this case, we used a round container for our limes.
  • Organize a place for the cocktail shaker tin.
  • Now that you have the right 1/3 of your compartment dialed with ice and garnish, let’s finish the rest of the backbar.
  • Place your all of your spirits, juices, and bases to the left.
  • This is key. Once your bottles are organized to your liking, take some extra bar or tea towels to use as separators between the bottles during transport. Weave them between the liquor bottles, making sure the glass surfaces won’t make contact with each other. Remove those when you get onsite and all set up.
  • Finally, depending on the size of your cutting board, you might want to tuck that into the back or front of the large compartment.  


Front Compartment

The large rolling cooler has a great front pouch and unzips enough to open and lay flat. There is a net on the back of the pocket and hook and loop in the front of the pocket.

  • Start with the bitters. Most bitters bottles will tuck neatly and line up perfectly side by side in this pocket. Bring as wide a selection of bitters as your menu requires.
  • Next to the bitters, place your jigger, small glassware, and any small garnish bottles, plus extras like wood skewers. This is also a great spot to tuck your charcuterie knife and wine key.
  • Organize the muddler, stir spoon, peeler, juicer, strainer, and any other tools, into the hook and loop straps for easy, quick access.
  • Zip all compartments closed and extend handle for rolling.  


Top view of packed Rolling Cooler


View of bar essentials in Rolling Cooler front pocket


Now that you know how to properly pack your cooler to create a portable outdoor bar, we want to give you something delicious to drink. Below is one of the recipes Ryan, an acclaimed mixologist, created and taught attendees of our Outdoor Cocktails 101 workshop.

Ryan Manning


Beach Beetle
  • 2 wheels english cucumber
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ⅓  oz. simple syrup
  • ¾ oz. Aperol
  • 1 oz. mezcal
  • 2 oz. light lager or wheat ale


Execution for single serving:

In shaking tin, muddle cucumber with lemon juice. Add simple syrup, Aperol, Mezcal and ice.

Shake briefly just to chill and mix, add 2 ounces beer to tin and pour into ice filled 10-ounce cup.


Execution if batching:

Multiply recipe by number of anticipated servings.

Peel cucumber into ribbons, add a few to mezcal or Aperol bottle up to a day in advance (optional).

Add several cucumber ribbons to serving dispenser.

Just before serving, add plenty of ice and approximately 2 ounces of beer per serving.

Gently stir to combine.

Beverage should taste balanced, not too sweet or tart, and malty from the beer. If too sweet, incrementally add more fresh lime juice, tasting until balanced. If too tart, do the same with simple syrup. Add cucumber ribbon to serving cup (optional), fill with ice, and pour in beverage.

How-To outdoor dining

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