By Elizabeth Sturgeon
Photos by Blair Ramsey
Her name is Ms. Midler, and she has an attitude all her own.
Hailing from Tennessee, Ms. Midler made herself known during Ashley Smith’s search for a vintage camper with potential and personality. The floorless, rough-around-the-edges vehicle fit the bill and soon earned her name as the nostalgic vessel for Pour Birmingham.
Like their 1970s camper, Ashley, Rebecca Posey and Becki Dutton are also Birmingham transplants, bringing a new concept to the area through their mobile cocktail and coffee business. After six months of renovations, they launched Pour in summer 2021 and have watched their Vestavia-based venture thrive as something never seen before.
Coffee and cocktails go hand in hand and are central to the business – and the three do not remember exactly which one came first. After meeting through a blind-date book club and becoming new friends, Ashley, Rebecca and Becki were sipping cocktails on Ashley’s deck when they began to muse on big ideas – book bars, Vestavia coffee shops and local cocktail service all included.
Parked in front of them was the Smith family’s own vintage camper. “Somehow the question came up, sitting on my deck, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if someone could bring us drinks, so we wouldn’t have to go somewhere?’” Ashley says. “And I’m the kind of person who runs with an idea.”
With dreams of lattes and libations, the owners of Pour dove into research, fleshed out their ideas for a camper-coffee-cocktail bar and found the bare-bones 1974 Tagalong camper- who would become Ms. Midler- on Facebook Marketplace.
The camper arrived in Birmingham in January 2021 and was soon stripped to the frame with the help of their three husbands and one of Rebecca’s cousins, who masterminded the rebuilding process and provided the gorgeous 200-year-old pine plank pulled out of Lake Pontchartrain to install as the bar. While designing the modernized-retro feel, Ashley, Rebecca and Becki were also training as bartenders and baristas.
Coffee required an investment in equipment – Becki mentions Ms. Fancy, their beautiful La Marzocco espresso machine, by name – and training for high quality brewed coffee and espresso. Rebecca is particularly fond of the coffee side of Pour, and she’s usually the main barista at their events. “I’ve always wanted to own a coffee shop, and in that same conversation on the deck, there was also a conversation about Vestavia needing more local coffee places,” Rebecca says.
For cocktails, Pour’s creativity extended from their mixology into ways to abide Alabama’s rule on mobile liquor sales. Pour provides everything – mixers, garnishes and glassware – except for the alcohol. For that, they provide an exact shopping list for the hosts to purchase what they need.
While Ashley, Rebecca and Becki all have their favorites recommendations, they look to the client first for inspiration to build a menu of coffees, cocktails, mocktails or a combination of them all. No drink is off the table, and some of their favorite recipes have been the special requests – like a mint sweet tea that is reminiscent of home or a spicy bloody mary that’s fit for a brunch wedding.
For some of their most popular picks, Pour specializes in twists on the traditional. “We like to take the classics and add a little something,” Ashley says. Their pineapple mule and pomegranate margaritas top the list of favorites, and both show off Pour’s inventive side.
Behind the bar, you’ll find at least two of Pour’s three owners at any of their events, all able to run each area of the business but gravitating towards the parts they do best. Ashley brings her creativity to marketing and her organization to enacting new ideas. Becki handles the finance side of the business and loves working with customers like Rebecca, who thrives in the front-facing parts of the job and manages operations.
They have all worked to find a balance between Pour, their friendship and their lives, from day jobs to family life, a lot of which collides through shared school schedules and other commitments. Along with hard work and dedication to the business, balance comes a little bit easier when you’re serving happy people.
Originally, all three assumed that weddings would be their focus, but they have also provided drinks for corporate events, open houses, neighborhood block parties, birthdays and more celebrations. “We’re at these events where everyone’s happy and in a good mood,” Rebecca says. “They’re happy to be where they are.”
Pour has also been an empowering experience in all that they’ve learned and the ways they conceptualized something so innovative yet so classic and fitting for a range of events. Wedding coffee bars – no matter the time of day – are sweeping the scene, Pour at the ready with the best of the best.
Their ownership over the business is ever-present. “Everything on our camper has a story, and we love to share when people ask,” Becki says. Ashley’s vision for an old camper, Rebecca’s dreams of her own coffee company and Becki’s dedication to giving back to the Birmingham community all come through in Ms. Midler’s appearance and everything happening behind the scenes.
The trio does it all and handles all their must-have equipment – from espresso tamper and power tools to lemon press. “Even the basics of pulling a camper and packing up, people see us three girls and assume we need help, but we’ve got it,” Rebecca says.
There’s power in the ingenuity and the execution, and Pour will continue to measure their days in toasts raised, limes squeezed and espresso poured.
Pour finds harmony between someone’s standard drink order and a balanced menu for any number of guests, usually recommending two signature cocktails that each bring something a little bit different in types of flavors and liquor. Ashley says one of her favorite parts of the job is the personal touches clients have in mind when they talk through the menu.
When someone needs a little inspiration, Pour has several go-to creations: their pomegranate margarita, pineapple mule, lemon drop and bourbon smash. The team can also create non-alcoholic options, including their strawberry lemonade with fresh juice and puree. (The lemonade goes great with Tito’s, too, when the time is right).
Here is a fan favorite cocktail recipe:
4 oz White Tequila
2 oz. Triple Sec (the trio suggests Grand Marnier)
½ cup pomegranate juice
Club soda to top off
Lime and salt or sugar for garnish
Like the do-it-all philosophy behind their cocktails, Pour can service a full coffee bar with brewed coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, iced coffees and more. It is important for the team to build a relationship with a local roaster, and they proudly serve Seed’s Coffee and admire the community focus behind their rich coffees.
When choosing coffee for an event, the Pour team recommends a basic coffee bar as the biggest crowd pleaser, but shaken iced coffees, caramel macchiatos, flavored lattes and hot chocolates are fun to add, too. “I love the wide eyes and large grins kids get when handed a cup of hot chocolate, brimming with whipped cream and custom toppings,” Becki says. “Actually, the adults get the same look.”
Below is one of the owners’ favorite coffee recipes:
Iced Caramel Macchiato
Pour vanilla syrup in the cup (they like Ghirardelli’s vanilla sauce)
Add cold milk (2% works well)
Fill cup with ice
Add a shot of espresso (or they often use cold brew)
Top with caramel sauce (Ghirardelli’s)
Home in the Hills
Though the camper travels near and far for events, Pour is rooted in Vestavia Hills. Ashley, Rebecca and Becki have the “What’s Happening in Vestavia Facebook group” to thank for their original book club and connection as Vestavia residents. You’ll usually find Ms. Midler somewhere in Vestavia, most likely in Becki’s driveway. And although Rebecca recently moved from Vestavia to Bluff Park, she serves as the director of Ascension Episcopal Kindergarten and is often in the area. Pour now plays an important part in the neighborhood as the first of its kind and has been spotted at Deck the Heights among other Vestavia events.