Meagan brings the bar, you make the memories
Photos by Luke Christopher
“Throw a cocktail at me and as long as it wasn't created in a frat house last year, I will know exactly what it is. My comfort level is when I'm behind a bar and I have my bar tools in front of me, that's where I'm natural,” says Meagan Shreve of Bar Maiden.
Meagan is no stranger to the restaurant and hospitality business. For the last fifteen years, she has been one of Warrenton’s most familiar faces behind the bar at O’Brien’s Irish Pub - and before that at McMahon’s Irish Pub.
Ultimately, the restaurant industry is her bread and butter and it is where her entrepreneurial sights reach in the future, but now, Meagan is periodically stepping out from behind the bar and running her own mobile bartending business. She opened Bar Maiden at the start of 2021, capitalizing on her longtime experience and her knowledge of the community.
Opening a business at the precipice of change, where a “new normal” was bitterly familiar in everyone’s mouth, “was a massive leap of faith,” Meagan says of the jump.
The Pop-up Bar
Bar Maiden is a mobile bartending service serving the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC area. They provide bartending services at any occasion that calls for celebration and drinks. Well versed in classic cocktails, Bar Maiden will also work with you to develop a signature cocktail for your event, or offer a selection of Meagan’s own unique signature drinks, such as Raspberry Herb Prosecco or Cucumber Mint Gimlet.
Bar Maiden arrives at events in a SUV with a folding pop up bar in the back. “I love my pop up bar,” says Meagan. Initially, she looked into starting with a trailer, but it was too much overhead in the beginning. Instead, she found a company in North Carolina that made custom pop up bars. “In six months I had my own bar complete with my logo,” she says. “I got to customize it myself, from the placement and size of the bar wells to which side the ice was kept. It even has customizable LED lights, so I can match a party’s theme colors.”
For small groups, the bar can fit inside a living room. Because it’s so portable, she can go anywhere, such as beaches or bayside. “If I had a trailer, I’d have to stay outside, or further from the gathering and people would have to walk over to me to get their drinks. With my pop up, I’m right there for the guests,” she says.
Bar Maiden uses fresh and - when possible- local herbs, fruits, and vegetables and maintains its own herb garden. Also included in their repertoire are cocktails and mocktails using products from local entrepreneurs such as Mad Magic Kombucha, Erin’s Elderberries, and even Bad Ass Pickles. “I make Bloody Marys with pickle brine from Bad Ass Pickles, and it is incredible,” Megan says.
Meagan brought her drink “magic” to Warrenton’s Wizard Walk last July, and whipped up some mocktails for the kids. “It was adorable,” she says. “I used the butterfly pea syrup from Erin’s Elderberries, which is a beautiful deep dark royal blue. It virtually has no taste but it’s there for the antioxidants and health benefits. But when you happen to add it to citrus, say lemonade, it turns this gorgeous lavender purple. We showcased that that weekend because it looked like magic. I also used Mad Magic Kombucha to add fermentation, making things bubble over. And the kids thought it was magic and it was a lot of fun.
The same way every inch of town is teeming with “familiar faces that you've seen since you were a child,” Meagan was woven into the framework of town and had the chance to offer her expertise to people who became friends across a counter. That very same network of friends were the ones telling Meagan, their favorite bartender, that she should create a business dedicated to it.
“I realized I could take my long experience and put it on wheels,” she says.
Her regular customers across the years were the first to call for Meagan to bartend for their milestones, and the name derives from a song a regular Irish band played for Meagan every week for years, “The Maid Behind the Bar.”
“This community is full of some of the best people you'll ever meet in life,” Meagan says. “Warrenton is constantly growing, it has a pulse.” Even in a place with rich history and many residents whose local ancestry goes back generations, Meagan insists that Warrenton is anything but exclusive. “Whether you're new or old, been here or just got here, you're one of us,” she says.
Meagan, who grew up in Warrenton, lives with her 10 year old daughter, a fifth grader at Brumfield Elementary School, in Cambridge Way in Warrenton. “I love being a townie. The convenience is amazing. I think I’ll always live in Warrenton. It’s such a great neighborhood, my daughter has so many friends.”
Looking forward, Bar Maiden is ready to adjust to fit the spaces the world has to offer while it finds footing in the unfamiliar. Her aspirations are grand, and Meagan says, “Someday I’d like to command my own fleet of Bar Maiden trailers.”
Meagan is up for the challenge, but also here for the moments. “The weddings, the vow renewals, the 70th birthdays, watching the family members see each other for the first time in years, I get to be a part of that… I get a front-row seat to these people creating some of the best memories of their lives.”
The Maiden Special
1.5 ounce Parrot Bay Passionfruit Rum
2 ounces sour mix
½ ounce cranberry juice
Pour ingredients, shake shake shake, strain over ice
Magic Aronia (mocktail)
½ ounce Erin’s Elderberry’s Berry Aronia
1.5 ounces Mad Magic Kombucha’s Double Ginter
2 ounces ginger ale
Combine over ice, stir together briskly, garnish with fresh mint leaves