Set in the perfect summer backdrop of Oregon’s Sauvie Island sits Ritzy, a 1962 Canned Ham travel trailer fully equipped with a two-tap kegerator and mini-fridge. Modern, mobile, and full of character, Ritzy is part of The Swig Rig, a beverage catering service that’s anything but conventional. From craft cocktails to beer, wine, and bar snacks, this retro trailer brings chic charm to any event and is sure to make life’s special moments extra fun and memorable.
Recently, our in-house stylist Jess Ford teamed up with the Swig Rig owner, Shirey Bukowski, to update the interior using some Schoolhouse favorites. Inspired by their story and success, we set out to capture the recently renovated rig on the oh-so-picturesque field of Vibrant Valley Farm. Below, the duo takes us through the design details, Schoolhouse picks, and share a garden-fresh lavender gin cocktail recipe perfect for sipping on all summer.
Tell us about the Swig Rig! How did it come about?
Shirey: We were looking for a small business opportunity and came across The Swig Rig for sale in 2019. The business had been running out of Bend since 2015 and the current owners were opening another business and decided they couldn’t do both. We fell in love with the trailer and the idea of owning a business that was based in celebration and community, so we jumped at the opportunity. We transitioned the business to be based out of the Portland area in the fall of 2019.
We have some questions about Ritzy! How did you find this travel trailer and what was it like having to outfit it to be a mobile bar?
Shirey: Ritzy has been in use since 2017 and was in need of some updates. I knew I wanted some new pulls for the cupboards and immediately thought of the Talbot Pulls I’d seen at Schoolhouse. But you know how it goes, one thing leads to another and before we knew it, we were doing a full remodel!
Could you walk us through the design process from initial inspiration to final execution?
Jess: The design process has been a long time in the making! Shirey reached out in August 2020 looking for an upgrade for their beverage cart and asked us to help. We connected via phone to chat details, and from there I provided a few different styling schemes to choose from. Initially, we focused on lighting, hardware, and some accessories to help round out the space.
The timeline worked perfectly with our new wallpaper collection, so that was another design layer to consider. With each element we wanted the cart to feel fresh and updated, but with choices that would be timeless. For our final photoshoot heading into Summer 2021, we landed on a colorfully classic theme with pops of primaries, mixed prints, and easygoing details.
Shirey: I purchased the Talbot Pulls about a year before the actual remodel process began. We intended to have them installed immediately, but when we went to install them we found that the holes from the original pulls were about an ⅛ of inch shorter. We realized we’d need to drill new holes in the cupboards, and this is when the scope of the project started growing. I actually returned those pulls because Covid hit at the exact same time we were hoping to start this project.
After the shock of the first few months of Covid passed, we decided to start moving forward with the project and I connected with Jess to talk about how we could implement more Schoolhouse products into our remodel. As part of the remodel, we decided to replace all of the bamboo woodwork with maple and get fresh paint on the cupboards. We worked with Dan Healy Woodworks to manage the project including the design and installation of the new woodwork and then Dimitriy with NW Fabrication Inc. came to the rescue on very short notice to complete the custom cabinetry and fine finishes.
At times, it felt as though the project would never end, but as is usually the case, everything worked out for the best, and I feel so lucky to have been able to work with so many talented people.Turns out, the pulls that started it all are the ones that Jess felt were the best choice for the space. I love seeing them in the space as reminder of what inspired this project!
What were some of the highlights and challenges while working on this project?
Jess: Our goal was to do a winter/holiday styled photoshoot, however, with project timeline and COVID delays, we ended up having to keep pushing the photoshoot dates. Our plans had to pivot quite a bit, but it ended up being for the best because then we were able to use our new wallpaper, and have a beautiful, summery farm location. Our photoshoot execution at Vibrant Valley Farm was definitely a highlight – the location, our vendors who participated, and our amazing photographer Anna, everyone was such a joy to work with.
Shirey: The challenges were mostly relative to Covid delays but in the end, it was for the best because we were able to install the new Schoolhouse wallpaper, which we are totally in love with! The highlights were getting to work with Jess throughout the design process and of course, it was so wonderful to see everything come together at the photoshoot. Anna and Jess were so wonderful to work with along with Chas of Wildflower Portland and Shelbi of Too Sweet Cakes who helped bring the vision for the shoot to life.
What’s your favorite part of the final design?
Jess: I really loved how all the elements complimented each other once we put the cart into use for the photoshoot. Shirey uses such beautiful mixers, wines and recipes that everything came to life. The florals done by Chas of Wildflower Portland and the desserts by Too Sweet Cakes could also not have been more perfectly executed for our overall theme. I think this collaboration really emphasizes how talented the event community is here in Portland.
Shirey: Oh man, how can I choose one favorite?! I love the wallpaper SO much! We receive compliments on it at every event. I love the way Jess tied everything together, even helping with our choice of flooring. The finished product is better than I imagined. I also really love how Jess chose the Ion Lamp in persimmon as an accent piece. I never would have thought to choose that piece and I love the way it pops against the wallpaper.
Which Schoolhouse products did you select for the space and why?
Jess: The Olive Grove Wallpaper in Ochre really refreshed and warmed up the cart while also keeping it neutral enough to be styled for any type of event any time of the year. The Agnes Pendants gave it the “vintage modern” feel while the Talbot Pulls really elevated the heirloom quality.
Shirey: Jess gave me a few different options when it came to the lighting, wallpaper, and pulls and we were always in agreement on which ones felt like the best choice!
Have you seen the wedding world change this past year? And do you have any key takeaways or insights to share around the future of the industry as we know it?
Shirey: This past year was definitely a crazy one in the events industry. After the initial impact of Covid, we were lucky to continue to work throughout the season as couples decided to host more intimate weddings. It turned out to be a really special time that allowed us to spend extra time getting to know our couples and navigate all of the unknowns with them. Now, as the world opens back up, we’re moving into a fully booked season of weddings and public events. All signs point to the future of the industry thriving, especially over the next few years as people make up for the lack of gathering in 2020.
From sugar snap mint margaritas to blueberry lemon basil mules – you have some amazing and innovative beverage recipes. How do you come up with your craft cocktails?
Shirey: One of the most important things I learned throughout my career in nonprofit administration and event planning is that the best results come from building a great team. I’ve also always been very picky about my cocktails. While my background isn’t in bartending, it was important to me to offer the best craft cocktails we possibly could. So, when Kate Bolton of Silver Julep started bottling and selling her mixers, I knew I wanted to include her creations on our cocktail menu. One of my favorite parts of owning this business has been working with Kate to support each other's businesses, which for me means being able to offer our clients fresh and local mixers made by an award-winning bartender!
Finally, what’s something you’re looking forward to this year either personally or professionally?
Shirey: This year has brought an unexpected opportunity for Ritzy to transition to a new home at Abbey Road Farm. We were fortunate to connect with Abbey Road Farm very early on in transitioning the business to the Portland area and we’ve had the pleasure of working with them regularly over the past two years. Their team fell in love with Ritzy, and they’re thrilled to add the trailer to their family.
They have exciting plans in store. Ritzy will continue to be available to weddings and events on property for mobile bar service in addition to being used as a mobile tasting room to bring the Abbey Road Farm collective of wines to local events and festivals. Luckily, we will still be seeing a lot of Ritzy as we finish out all of our previously booked events through our 2022 season.
Lavender Bee's Knees
- If you live in the Portland area you can easily make this delicious cocktail by ordering the mixer from Silver Julep or stopping by their Thursday market at the Sellwood Community House.
- If you don't live in the Portland area, you can make your own lavender simple syrup or buy a bottled syrup and follow this simple recipe.
- 1 oz lavender simple syrup
- 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 oz gin
- Pour 2 to 3 oz of the mixer and 2 oz of your favorite dry gin (We love this one by Portland distillery, Aria) over ice in a cocktail shaker.
- Shake for 30 seconds.
- Strain contents over ice or serve it up in a cocktail coupe glass and garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy your five-star craft cocktail!
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