You won’t find margarita mixes at the Catskills Cocktail Club. Instead, you’ll be treated to fresh and local herbs, fruits, and other inspired ingredients at this roving bartending service.
Brendan Casey got the idea to start the Catskills Cocktail Club in 2020. That year Casey, and his wife, Lisa Rondholz, began living full time at their weekend home in Accord, after he’d lost his bartending job at a Manhattan hotel. “I thought it would be cool to start something outdoor-oriented where you can enjoy nature and a cocktail at the same time,” he says of his initial idea.
Fast-forward three years. The Catskills Cocktail Club, a mobile bartending service, has evolved into a hybrid of pop-ups around Accord: a weekly Friday-night residency at Stonehill’s, a B&B and events space; gigs at the Starlite Motel in Kerhonkson and The Egg’s Nest in High Falls; plus weddings and parties. But one thing stays constant. “It all revolves around making new friends and having a good time,” notes Casey.
While you can order a Manhattan or martini, Casey likes to put his own spin on classics with local ingredients. Sometimes he offers drinks that speak to the season—say Penicillins, scotch cocktails made with ginger and lemon plus honey from Damn Good Honey Farm, or Clover Clubs with gin, raspberry, lemon, and egg whites.
At Stonehill’s, Catskills Cocktail Club is usually joined by a chef or food vendor, so Casey will often tailor drinks to pair with their offerings. Last summer, he teamed up with Michelle Chiu of Two Five, a Korean-Japanese pop-up also based in Accord. For his Korean-inspired margarita, Casey swapped out jalapeños for gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste. “It’s a little sweet, it’s a little savory, and it’s a little spicy,” he explains. “It’s become one of our biggest sellers.”
Casey makes homemade syrups from herbs and preserved fruits that he gets from local farmers and farmstands, including Barthel’s Farm Market and Creamery in Ellensville and Saunderskill Farm in Accord. When stone fruits are at their peak, he’ll use them in cocktails, like a plum nori. “That’s important, experiencing a cocktail that you know is made fresh and with love,” he explains.
Besides the regular Friday evenings at Stonehill’s, Casey plans to host Saturday night events there, too. They’ll include more food vendors and live music. Check out @thecatskillscocktailclub to find their next pop-up. You can book Casey’s bartending services for parties, cocktail classes, and weddings, as well.