The Food Issue

The Campground: Couple take backyard cocktail service on the road

Chris Ciesiel (left) and his wife, Cristin Llewellyn, turned their backyard shed into a cocktail hot spot called The Campground.
Chris Ciesiel (left) and his wife, Cristin Llewellyn, turned their backyard shed into a cocktail hot spot called The Campground. The Kansas City Star

Lifestyle trend-watchers from Pinterest to modern-shed.com say bar sheds are picking up where man caves left off.

But the tiny shed behind Chris Ciesiel and Cristin Llewellyn’s South Hyde Park bungalow turned out to be more than just a manly hangout. In fact, it became an incubator for a distinctive brand of craft cocktail camaraderie the couple call The Campground.

Originally they envisioned the 11-by-16-foot plywood and corrugated metal structure as a warm-weather hangout. “I’m not a very big lawn tool collector,” Ciesiel deadpans.

But once they had decorated the rough-hewn space with lodge-y accoutrements — taxidermy, weather-bleached skulls, copper cups hung on nails, wood salvaged from the West Bottoms and vintage bar books — friends (and friends of friends who heard about rustic shindigs via social media) were begging for an invite.

The menu typically includes barrel-aged Manhattans, “bacon-wrapped something” and s’mores, and it turns out the confined space has been a great way for strangers to get to know one another.

Ciesiel, a registered nurse, and Llewellyn, who co-owns Owl + Mouse Textile Designs, have plans to expand on that convivial gather-round-the-campfire spirit, taking their cocktail services to new and unexpected spaces. So far they’ve booked events at West Elm, Hammerpress, Asiatica and Season + Square.

“It’s been a blast,” Ciesiel says, “and we hope to take it a step further.”

The Campground: thecampgroundkc.com; Facebook, The Campground; Twitter @thehydeparker; Instagram @thehydeparker

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