Jill Martini mixes drinks in The Wandering Whale

For Jill Martini, opening her boutique mobile bar The Wandering Whale was a leap of faith. Now she's hoping to make waves in Sarasota all summer long.

Martini has lived in Sarasota for 13 years. She came to the area to attend Ringling College of Art and Design, where she studied interior design. In her post-grad years, Martini has worked for several architectural firms while also running a side gig in bars and restaurants, where she honed her mixology skills.

Working for other people, Martini realized she had an entrepreneurial mindset. Earlier this year, while browsing Instagram, she came across a trend in other cities: people converting old Volkswagen buses into mobile bars. Realizing a bus wasn’t in her budget, she got creative. After perusing Facebook and Craigslist for weeks, she found a reasonably priced old horse trailer. Martini says that from the moment she decided to buy the trailer, she committed to start and complete the project within three months.

The Wandering Whale before its makeover 

With her interior design background, Martini had experience tearing down houses to the studs and rebuilding. One of her friends, a local boutique owner, booked The Wandering Whale for an event before Martini had even finished construction on the trailer. That initial engagement helped Martini launch her new brand.

While there was a learning curve (Martini had to study how to properly hitch and haul a trailer), Martini has begun making her mark at local events—weddings, bridal showers and corporate gatherings. She helps clients come up with a menu that suits their event and brings everything but the alcohol to the venue. (Local laws require clients to purchase and supply the booze.) Napkins, glassware, creative drink garnishes and even music are all part of the mobile experience.

The Wandering Whale allows Martini to bring a craft cocktail experience to her customers, while they get in on the fun with the perfect Instagram-friendly backdrop. Her summer drink plans include a lavender lemonade, drinks featuring watermelon and spiked snow cones served in a martini glass.

We asked Martini for a summer drink suggestion and she came up with the patriotic "Sarasota Sparkler," perfect for a hot Sarasota afternoon:

Jill Martini's "Sarasota Sparkler"

Recipe makes one cocktail 

1.5 oz. grenadine
1.5 oz. vodka
Instructions: Fill a cup with ice and pour the grenadine in so it sits at the bottom of the glass. Then pour in the vodka and top off with Sprite. The drink is intended to be layered, so no stirring or shaking. Garnish with red and white spiral paper straw, blueberry stick with American flag and a cherry.

For more info, call Jill Martini at (941)-650-9950 or email her at hello@thewanderingwhale.com for details.

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