Brendan Casey got the idea to start the Catskills Cocktail Club in 2020. That year he and his wife, Lisa Rondholz, began living full time at their weekend home in Accord, after he’d lost his bartending job in Manhattan. “I thought it would be cool to start something outdoor-oriented where people could enjoy nature and a cocktail at the same time,” he says of his initial idea.
Fast-forward three years. The Catskills Cocktail Club, a roving bartending service, has evolved into a hybrid of pop-ups around Accord: a weekly Friday-night stint 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 remains constant. “It all revolves around making new friends and having a good time,” notes Casey.
While you can order a Negroni or martini, Casey likes to put his own spin on classics. Sometimes he offers drinks that speak to the season, such as Clover Clubs made with gin, fresh raspberries, lemons, and egg whites.
At Stonehill’s, Catskills Cocktail Club is usually joined by a chef or food vendor, so Casey will tailor drinks to pair with their offerings. Last summer, he partnered with Michelle Chiu of Two Five, a Korean-Japanese pop-up in Accord. For his Korean-inspired margarita, Casey replaced jalapeños with gochujang. “It’s a little bit sweet, a little savory, and a little spicy. 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 this summer, 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.