Private Bartender Attends El Monte Quincinera

31 Aug

Last night, Shaken Not Stirred, the private bartender service was honored to bartend at his first Quincinera in El Monte. For some reason I thought I was going to bartend a wedding, but when I got there I discovered it was a Quincinera. I was scheduled to arrive at four and arrived at 3:45 and there were already probably 100 people there. I panicked and thought that I had mixed up the times, but was informed that I wasn’t. It was hotter than blazes in the San Gabriel Valley and I set up my portable bar under a tent.

I started bartending immediately after setting up and I served Coronas, Modelos, and a variety of mixed drinks. Margaritas were the most popular, and I brought some of my special mix. I made many margaritas with that and then used regular margarita mix after that. I went through several bottles of tequila and served a lot of Jack Daniels. It was hot and we ran out of ice half way through. Somebody ran and got more ice.

I booked another Quincinera for September on the spot and was given a deposit. That was my one remaining Saturday in September that wasn’t booked, so that worked out well. There were many people at the party that spoke only Spanish, and I know enough Spanish to get by. There were some men there playing guitars and singing. I asked them to play my favorite Spanish song, Cucaruca tu, and they happily obliged. I remember once being in Acapulco at a bar and the guitar player was pissed off because the American kept requesting “La Bamba.” I asked him to sing Cucaruca Cu, and he was so happy – he sang his heart out.

Today I am private bartender to a backyard party in Redondo Beach, a community where I have a lot of history. I was bar manager at Frascati Ristorante on PCH before it closed, and have worked off and on for Le Rive Gauche in Palos Verdes Estates. I am leaving tomorrow for Montana for a week vacation, then have a cocktail party the first day back in Beverly Hills. Autumn is my favorite time of the year and am looking forward to bartending many nice events.

Shots!

Shots!

Pinata at El Monte Quincinera

Pinata at El Monte Quincinera

Shaken Not Stirred Provided Bartending Service at Camarillo Wedding

30 Aug

Last night, Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending service for a wedding at the McCormick Home Ranch in Camarillo. I brought along another bartender to serve wine and beer to around 150 guests at this very nice venue. I hope to bartend many more events at this location in Ventura County. The weather was perfect for a wedding and a nice ocean breeze blowing in from the coast provided natural air conditioning.

Forever Young Brewery,  provided some kegs and he had a keg cooler with Co2 bottles, which makes it very easy for the bartenders. This is really the best way to serve beer from kegs – and I dread the pump up taps that slow service way down and the beer is often way too foamy. We had six different beers to serve, from a light ale, an IPA, two different porters, a stout, and Coors Light. We served completely out of the Ale and IPA, but there was plenty of the other beers left over. We also served Chardonnay, a Moscato, Merlot, and Cabernet. We ran out of white wine, which is always the biggest seller at weddings.

After the initial rush directly after the wedding ceremony, I probably could have handled this party by myself, but I usually recommend that people book two bartenders for parties over one hundred people. I have several great people who work with me, and the service is much quicker, especially when a big line to the bar forms. We usually try to pick up empty glasses and keep the tables and area clean when we aren’t busy. Good bartending service is about providing all around service, not just serving drinks.

Bruce Barrios provided the DJ services and he says that Ventura County is his territory. He says he does several events a year at the McCormick Home Ranch, and I hope to work with him again. Wood Ranch Barbecue

McCormick Home Ranch in Camarillo

McCormick Home Ranch in Camarillo

Future bride with her daddy

Future bride with her daddy

Action shot bartending

Action shot bartending

The sparkler gauntlet

The sparkler gauntlet

provided the catering and their food is always excellent. My son has worked for them for years and they are a very good company that is growing in Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange counties.

Tonight I have another wedding in El Monte, and then tomorrow am doing a backyard pre Labor Day party in Redondo Beach. This marks the official end of the summer, but not the wedding season, as I still have several wedding coming up in Westlake Village, Temecula, Palm Springs, and I just booked one in Santa Ynez.  I am flying to Montana on Monday for a week long vacation, and then am providing bartending service for a cocktail party on my first day back in Beverly Hills.

 

Mobile Bartender Services Tehacapi Wedding

25 Aug

Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred, the Los Angeles mobile bartender that travels all over Southern California, provided beverage service at a Tehacapi wedding in Kern County. The wedding was held at a new wedding venue at a very picturesque location outside of Tehacapi called the Rose Garden Estate. The weather and scenery couldn’t have been nicer. Once the sun went down, the sky was clearer and the stars were brighter than I have seen them in a long time. It is far enough away from LA for that.

Rose Garden Estate Wedding

Rose Garden Estate Wedding

First Dance

First Dance

Salud!

Salud!

I talked to owner who operates the venue and he said he built the business specifically to do weddings and events, and he also operates it as a bed and breakfast. He has all the tables, dance floor, lights, and almost everything else needed for a wedding right there. I brought my portable bar and set it up as people were rushing around preparing for the ceremony. I hope to bartend more events at that venue.

The ceremony was held outside on the lawn overlooking the valley. The reception and dinner was held in a big building there designed for that purpose. About seventy guests were in attendance. The bride wanted to limit the number of drinks each person had and she did that by issuing four tickets to each person. That way, theoretically each person’s limit would be four drinks. She did not wanting people getting drunk and out of control.

I told her there is almost no way to keep an alcoholic from getting drunk and out of control once they start drinking. They either have their own supply, or they beg other family members for extra tickets, etc. Well, fortunately, nobody seemed to be drunk and out of control. As a certified bartender it is my job to spot people who have had too much and cut them off accordingly. That rarely has to happen – I am happy to report that the vast majority of the people I serve at weddings and other events drink responsibly. There are usually a few that are a problem, but I know how to spot them.

We did run out of alcohol just as the party was ending, but there was a lot of beer left. I help my clients with their shopping lists and I am usually pretty accurate on how much they should by. Next weekend I have two weddings booked – one in Camarillo, and one in El Monte. The wedding season sows no signs of fading out, as I am continuing to book weddings into September, October, and November. The weather in Southern California is so nice, that there is plenty of work for a mobile bartender all year long.

Studio City Backyard Party

17 Aug

Last night I bartended a backyard party that served both as the host’s birthday party, and to celebrate the recent completion of landscaping to the backyard. It was another hot day in the San Fernando Valley and I couldn’t wait for the sun to go down as I set up my portable bar beside the pool. We were expecting around forty guests and I transferred the host’s liquor from his indoor bar to my portable bar by the pool. He had a pretty well staffed bar and we were able to cover almost all bases in the liquor department.

I made a batch of cucumber/mint syrup to try out at this party and it went over well. Several guests requested cucumber margarita over and over again. The cucumber syrup also mixes well with vodka and rum. It is very concentrated and I only put about an ounce of it into each drink. I can’t wait to try other concoctions, like peach, mango, and melon. Somebody else brought jalapeno syrup and I made her favorite drink with that. The second most popular drink of the night was the Malibu Bay Breeze.

The sun finally went down and there was some relief from the heat. Some of the guests brought their swimming trunks and dove into the pool, turning the backyard party into a pool party.  The host requested that I stay an hour longer than my scheduled time and I was glad to do it. I think it is foolish for a bartender to leave when a party is still going strong. I always stay later when requested and am glad to do so. When I schedule a party on a Saturday night, I have no other pressing business.

It was nice staying in my neighborhood doing parties for the last two weeks, but am going on the road again next weekend to do a wedding in Tehachapi. Then I have two more weddings to do the following weekend in Camarillo and El Monte. The wedding season obviously isn’t over because I have other weddings already booked in September and October.

People ask me how far in advance they should book me, and I say if you agree the price is right – do it now. About a week ago somebody was talking to me about a date in November and they said they would get back to me. The next day I booked a party on that same date and took a deposit. I always book with the first person who pays a deposit. Even if a better deal comes my way – I honor my agreements with those people who have paid me a deposit. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Portable bar on Studio City patio

Portable bar on Studio City patio

Guests mingling beside pool

Guests mingling beside pool

After sundown

After sundown

Studio City Wedding at “New York Street”

11 Aug

Saturday Shaken Not Stirred travelled all the way to New York Street

Mia bartending at New York Street

Mia bartending at New York Street

Real New Yorkers!

Real New Yorkers!

New York Street wedding

New York Street wedding

The toast...

The toast…

Shots!

Shots!

at CBS Studios in Studio City to bartend a wedding. It was a party of 200 people and I took another bartender, Mia, who has worked with me several times. This was my first event at the studio and I was nervous – big parties like this have the potential to go wrong in many different ways. My method of combating potential problems is to arrive early.

I did arrive one hour early and the first problem I noticed was that there weren’t enough cups. That was probably my fault because I had made a shopping list for the clients and they just followed it. Luckily, Mia had not arrived yet and was able to pick some more cups up. I recommend that people buy at least four times the number of cups as there are guests. Yes, a lot go to waste, but I don’t know how to remedy that.

The second problem was that the ice had not yet arrived when guests started arriving for the cocktail hour before dinner. People were waiting for 20 minutes before we had ice. This has happened at several weddings. I guess it’s just one of those details that slips through the cracks. Once the ice arrived, everything else went smoothly.

The host had chosen a speciality cocktail, the Cucumber Margarita. I volunteered to make the cucumber syrup, although I had never made it before. It turned out great! I made a gallon of it and it is very concentrated. I used fresh lemon/lime juice to mix with it. The cumber taste comes through loud and clear. It mixes well with vodka and tequila and I made myself a non-alcoholic drink with the syrup, lemon/lime and soda water that was really good.  Wow, I’m now a real “mixologist” though I hate that term and think it is pretentious.

The wedding was a really nice affair and the weather couldn’t have been nicer. We ran out of beer an hour before the party ended, but still had plenty of vodka and tequila left. This was a nearly eight hour party, and I guess I didn’t take into consideration it was two or three hours longer than most parties when I made the shopping list.  Next weekend, I have a birthday party in Studio City, and then I have three more weddings later this month in Tehachapi, Camarillo, and El Monte.

Mobile Bartending from Beverly Hills to Quartz Hill

4 Aug

Shaken Not Stirred mobile bartending service did three events last week starting with a Beverly Hills cocktail party on Thursday, then a post wedding reception in quartz Hill, and finishing the weekend off with a company pool party in the hills of Burbank. The actual bartending is only part of the story, because each of these events required planning, including the shopping lists and drink menus, and in the case of the Burbank party I did the actual shopping for alcohol and beverages. I’m glad I did that because it was a great learning experience for me and I came in $47 under budget.

I did a little research and chose Smart and Final for 95 percent of the items I needed. They had everything from cups, to straws, good prices on soda, and most of the alcoholic beverages I needed. There were only a couple of specialty items I needed which I found at a very nice liquor store, Mission Wine and Spirits on Burbank Blvd. If you are in the San Fernando Valley I highly recommend this place. If you are planning a party and need help with the shopping list I have many lists already made for various numbers of people. I can also do the shopping for you for a fee, of course.

The Beverly Hills cocktail party was repeat business for me and I was glad to have it on the Thursday night. The host told me she would be using me a lot, because I am dependable and not priced out of sight. I am a good bartender and am worth the going rate and more, but I also realize that bartending is not brain surgery, and price my service accordingly. Each crowd that I service is different, and in Beverly Hills it seems it is all about business. They want somebody who comes in, does the job, is tactful and discreet, and then cleans up and gets out of there without a lot of fanfare and I can do that.

Saturday, I was off to Quartz Hill, outside of Lancaster to bartend a post wedding reception. The wedding took place in the Bahamas and the hosts wanted a reception for their family friends back home. I served many blended drinks there including Pina Colladas, Cadillac Margaritas, and Strawberry Margaritas. Shaken Not Stirred is a mobile bartending service that serves most of Southern California, including the far ends of Los Angeles County

Beverly Hills backyard

Beverly Hills backyard

Native flora of Quartz Hill

Native flora of Quartz Hill

Bar menu at wedding reception

Bar menu at wedding reception

Burbank pool party

Burbank pool party

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The company pool party on Sunday was held at the host’s home in the hills above Burbank. There are some incredible houses up there, and this was one of them. It was spitting rain all day, but that didn’t keep the guests from drinking delicious Mai Tais, Cadillac Margaritas, and Blue Hawaiians in and out of the pool. No lightning scares. You will notice that I serve Cadillac Margaritas at almost every party I do because people love them! They are by far the most popular drink I serve. Next week I do at wedding at CBS Studios in Studio City. So far August 16th is still open, though I have some inquiries floating out there.  

Encino Law Office Anniversary Party

27 Jul

An Encino law office celebrated 20 years in business Saturday and Shaken Not Stirred was on hand to provide beverage service. The law office is located on an Encino estate that is perfect for partying. They did the party up right and had two different caterers, a photo booth, steel drum band, bartenders, and later on a DJ. It was a hot day and the ice was melting faster than we could keep it stocked.

The party was an open house and people came in and out all day. People brought their kids and the pool was busy all day. There was a dog there that was in and out of that pool for nine hours straight and I’m sure that dog had a good night’s sleep. I brought another bartender with me, Mia, and we served Modelo on tap, Margaritas, and a few other specialty drinks. We served many shots of tequila and had several brands to choose from including, Cazadores, Don Julio, Patron, and Don Azul.

Nesta provided the entertainment with steel drums and I have seen them at other parties – they are great  addition to any summer party. They had a taco bar set up in the front yard and I don’t know how the cooks kept from passing out it was so hot out there. The sun was just relentless. Another caterer was set up in the backyard and they kept passing around appetizers including shrimp cocktails, and then prepared a nice lasagna dinner. Everyone was well fed and we never ran out of drinks.

Next week I am doing a cocktail party in Beverly Hills for a repeat customer and then a wedding in Lancaster on Saturday. I have four different weddings booked for August. Then, in September I am planning on spending a whole week in the Palm Springs area and here is the press release

Rob with a huge jug of Cassadores

Rob with a huge jug of Cassadores

Retriever doing what she does best

Retriever doing what she does best

Nesta Steel Drum Band

Nesta Steel Drum Band

about that. The first week of September I am traveling to Montana for a much need week vacation.

 

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