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Introducing Joseph Byers, The Donkeys and Cabin 56

 This is the true short story of a crazy idea and the craft cocktails that saved me. On the eve of the New Year, I suddenly got it stuck in my head that I should organize a weird fundraising event at a special cabin I steward in the woods. My cabin sits at the end of a beautiful side canyon called the East Fork, and the only way to get there is to hike 1.75 miles on foot from the National Forest trailhead.

This cabin was issued a permit in 1914. Bandits hid out here in 1921. It survived a flood in 1968. The man who nicknamed it "Lazy S" in the 70’s asked for his ashes to be scattered in the creek outside (they were and the following Spring the Camellia tree finally bloomed for the first time ever). Last summer a bear was scared off at the kitchen door and to this day, it still has no running water, electricity, or heat except for the wood stove and fireplace. It’s a special place where you’re forced to disconnect a bit from the modern world.

Through word of mouth and the passage of history, I knew a great deal about the tiny 24 square feet known as Cabin No. 56.

I couldn’t shake thinking people would dig it, and so for the next two months I worked in my spare time on the idea to have artists, musicians, food and drink and new friends colliding in this off-the-grid setting.

One of the earliest and biggest challenges was food and drink – how would we get all the supplies into this remote location when everything had to be carried in by mule (charged at fifty-cents per pound).

I tried one night excitedly to explain this and more to my dear friend and truly creative mixologist. Talmadge Lowe always listens to my crazy ideas. He’s the best. And as the conversation continued, it became clear just how complicated and hard it would be to set up, stock and staff a bar in the middle of the woods. But he understood how badly I wanted to have something special to offer guests arriving to the Cabin 56, something delicious and memorable. I could tell he was pretty proud of himself for coming up with the perfect solution, something even more unique and better than our original plans, he proclaimed “BTL SVC”. He told me it’d be like having him there, or taking my favorite bartender with me as BTL SVC makes their own kind of art in a small bottle, a perfect fit for this project. Their carefully crafted cocktails are meant to go off the beaten path - created to, actually.

Days later I picked up four cases from the liquor market he owns called Hi-Lo Market and departed at 7:30 AM the next morning, sitting in saddlebags atop mules named Cora and Kenny. As I helped weigh and load the last supply run of over 200 pounds, I thought the boxes had almost been designed to travel this way they fit so perfectly in the dunnage. I had to love the journey these tiny bottles clinking in the sacks were on.

It was late morning when the mules finally arrived in the East Fork to deliver the precious cargo and the next afternoon as guests arrived from their hike they were greeted with amazing drinks we made in a kitchen with no running water or electricity. We just poured them over ice and served.

Our lineup was the Ginger Buck paired with Fennel and Farro Salad, followed with the 1934 Cosmo paired with Parmesan Broccoli Melts and the finale of "Mountain" Manhattans paired with Spicy Whiskey BBQ bites. Every single guest asked to take home a BTL SVC bottle, which would have been possible had we not gone thru every last one. People really loved ‘em. Trust me that a great drink in a unique place with great company tastes better than any one you’ve ever had in a bar.

Amazingly, through friendships and favors and fate, a group of people managed to meet together in the woods to celebrate that. Here’s to the inspiration of Spring and being great stewards of the wonders we’ve been given to take care of while we’re here in this awesome world. And, here are to the cocktails that are as good as bringing your favorite bar to wherever you are. BTL SVC cocktails are truly made to be consumed wherever, whenever.

— Joe Beyer, Cabin No. 56 Gallery Founder


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