Now that I'm on the other side of it, I can say that it probably wasn't the best idea to make it in the middle of the week. It just took so much time! I knew it would take several hours, but somehow it's still a surprise to me just how long it really takes. Also, it's oddly warm for this time of year so the fondant isn't going to hold up through the day. I'm hoping someone will cut it and have some before 10 am - then it can completely fall apart and everyone will think that was the catalyst.
I started prepping three days ago with the wood panels for the side of the cake. This is just fondant with tylose powder added to it to help it stiffen up. I drew light lines in the panels to give it some wood grain detail and then painted the pieces with food coloring mixed with vodka.
Then I made the sugar ice using this recipe and technique. And two partial sugar beer bottles using a silicone mold I made forever ago - that thing has really worked out for me! I've used it a lot more than I thought I would.
I went ahead and dragged out the airbrush machine once I got the panels attached to give the barrel a more uniform look. As messy as that is, it really changes the way the cake looks in a good way.
So all of the components were made ahead of time and all I had to do this morning was put it together.