Downtown LA Corporate Events and Palm Springs Birthday Party

20 Jul

It was another busy week for Shaken Not Stirred as we did corporate events in downtown LA on Thursday and Friday, and then traveled to Palm Springs on Saturday. In addition, a former client in Beverly Hills need someone on Friday night and I sent one of my other bartenders. Everything turned out very well, and I believe we have some more satisfied clients.

Thursday and Friday I was at The Reef

A world of dogs at the Reef

A world of dogs at the Reef

Drinks waiting to go out

Drinks waiting to go out

Palm Springs pool action

Palm Springs pool action

ps193

Guests react to surprise mariachis

in downtown Los Angeles as they had one of their quarterly sales events that attract hundreds of buyers. We set up stations in the morning to serve Mimosas, and then again in the afternoon to serve wine.  People look at the mimosa station and roll their eyes – “This early?” they say, but we ended up serving all of the champagne budgeted.  This kind of bartending is so easy, that it is almost embarrassing, yet however one of the bartenders pre-opened every single bottle of wine at his station, and much of that wine had to be poured out. That is something that comes with experience – you pre open a few only. Wine goes bad quickly once it is opened.

The Palm Springs event was a 50th birthday party and went from 1pm until 10pm.  I made dirty martinis, cosmos, bay breeze, and many margaritas. I make good margaritas and I always add fresh squeezed lime juice to them with a salt rim. There was a lime tree in the backyard, so I had no shortage of limes. There was also a grapefruit tree and I made Salty Dog martinis with the fresh grapefruits.

This birthday party was one of the most memorable I’ve done.  Friends and family members of the birthday celebrant came from all over the country and Canada for the event. They rented a very nice home in Palm Springs just north of downtown. They arranged for two separate tours for the guests to see the movie stars homes in Palm Springs. Crayons of Palm Springs provided the catering and they were fantastic. They had two different types of paninis, heirloom tomatoes, pasta, and other goodies. Their strawberry salad was out of this world, and I was reluctant to try it because I don’t normally like salads with fruit in them. Truly a unique choice in catering and I highly recommend.

The highlight of the evening and it really was an incredible moment, was when the doorbell rang, and in came a troupe of mariachis blasting their trumpets and it was completely unexpected. Some friends of the birthday boy had hired the mariachis as a surprise and they ended up playing for an hour. It really blasted the party into the fourth dimension.  Mariachi Jalisco provided the mariachis and their phone number is (760) 333-0991.

Next weekend I will be doing a big event in Encino as a law office throws a big anniversary party and is expecting almost 200 guests.

Santa Barbara Wedding Reception

13 Jul

Saturday Shaken Not Stirred was at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry to bartend a wedding reception. The Santa Barbara Art Foundry is an art gallery with an actual foundry on the premises, which also doubles as a very cool event venue. I took my son with me to help and we served a nice crowd of 150 people right up until one AM. We were slammed most of that time and we ran out of several things – but we always had options, including Bulleit

Santa Barbara Art Foundry

Santa Barbara Art Foundry

Willie pours a drink

Willie pours a drink

"Are they related?"

“Are they related?”

Shots!

Shots!

Rye Whiskey, Bulleit Bourbon, Knob Creek Bourbon, Stoli Vodka, and several different brands of top shelf tequila.

The Art Foundry is on Santa Barbara Street just a few blocks from the pier. It’s been years since I’ve been down to that area and it has transformed into a really cool area populated by hip restaurants, wine bars, and art galleries. I wish I would have taken some pictures because it really is picturesque. It was unusually hot for a beach community and must have been in the high eighties with no breeze at all when we arrived. It was sweltering inside the art gallery for most of the time we were bartending and we barely came up for air from the time we arrived until the last call.

There were some nice people helping us when we arrived, bringing us supplies, etc. I wondered where the bride and groom were and assumed that they were getting married at another location and would arrive later in full wedding regalia with the rest of the wedding procession. Well, it turns out the people helping us set up were the bride and groom. They had gotten married at a small ceremony at an earlier date and were having the reception for friends. I felt like fool – “Yeah, just put those boxes over there, I told them dismissively,”….

My son did a great job and I definitely needed him. He makes up in personality where I am lacking., and I admit I can get grouchy when the heat is on. He made some martinis and jumped right in there making Cadillac Margaritas, Manhattans, Vodka Tonics, and Dirty Shirleys. We had to keep stocking beer and white wine and finally ran completely out of white wine and almost out of red. We had just enough ice to make through the night, and when it is hot ice goes fast, as does beer. The days will likely get hotter and hotter in Southern California all the way until October. Next weekend I am traveling to Palm Springs for a birthday party, and then the following weekend I will stay close to home doing an anniversary party in Encino.

Mobile Bartending on the Fourth of July Weekend

7 Jul

Shaken Not Stirred was in true mobile bartending mode this Fourth of July weekend and did two parties in Orange County – a Fourth of July party in Newport Beach on Friday and a Santa Ana wedding on Saturday. I spent two days in San Diego on other business last week, then traveled to Newport Beach to bartend a Fourth of July party.

I was worried all week that getting in and out of Newport Beach was going to be a nightmare, but it was surprisingly easy. The hosts provided me a parking space in their garage. Everybody knows that beach parking on the Fourth of July is impossible. Most of the guests at the party were locals and arrived via beach cruiser. There were around 30 guests in attendance and it was a very nice low key party in a fantastic house.

I served three nice vintage cabernets – a 93’ Cakebread, a 98’ Chimney Rock, and a 96’ Von Strasser. I don’t usually serve a lot of red wine at summer parties, but this crowd couldn’t resist these three excellent wines. They had fun tasting all three and comparing. The Von Strasser proved to be the crowd favorite. By the end of the party all three bottles were empty. I served a few martinis and made Lemon Drops using fresh lemon juice from lemons in my back yard. The party abruptly ended as the guests left to watch the fireworks. I got top see most of the show as I was driving out of there.

I stayed at the Wyndam in Irvine and got a very good deal through Priceline

Fireworks over Newport Beach

Fireworks over Newport Beach

Vintage Cabs

Vintage Cabs

Guests enjoying the Fourth of July

Guests enjoying the Fourth of July

Tennis Court turned into wedding venue

Tennis Court turned into wedding venue

Mariachis waiting in the shade

Mariachis waiting in the shade

– where I named my own price. There is no reason to stay at the Motel 6, ever. I did a wedding the next day in the hills of Santa Ana. It is a very nice area off of the 55 freeway in the hills where I have never been before. There are some incredible houses up there and the wedding was held at one of them.

They had the tennis court converted into a super wedding venue for 200 guests. We had two bars set up, one above in the pool area, and another on the tennis court. Mia was helping me and she took the upstairs bar. There were at least 50 kids in attendance, so we spent plenty of time refilling sodas. Cadillac Margaritas were a big hit, and we also did Jaeger bombs, Patron shots, and Fireball shooters. The wedding planner abandoned ship halfway through along with three of the servers, as they ran out of food before everyone was served. Thankfully, she didn’t hire me and I was hired directly by the host. When I heard how much money they had paid her, I was thinking I should become a wedding planner. A friend explained to me why that would not be a good idea and I quickly came back to reality.

Next weekend I have another big wedding to do in Santa Barbara and I am taking my son, Willie to help me. I have several more weddings booked during the rest of the summer all over Southern California, and a few birthday parties. It has been a great summer for Shaken Not Stirred.

San Clemente Surprise Birthday Party

29 Jun

Saturday night I traveled south to Orange County to bartend a surprise birthday party in San Clemente. San Clemente is one of the true gems of Southern California right on the border of Orange/San Diego Counties. You really couldn’t find a nicer place to live anywhere in the country. The host had done extensive planning to pull off this event as a surprise and was quite successful – her husband was totally surprised.

I must say I was very impressed by how much the host had put into this event. She had photo shopped pictures of her husband with various celebrities and it had me fooled. I wondered who is this guy? She had made a surf/Hawaiian theme and the back yard looked incredible. I set up my portable bar on a little section of lawn and it fit just perfectly. They had artificial grass at this house, and I must say it looked very nice and was perfect to set up on.

The host and I did a lot of planning on the drink menu. I served Mojitos, Pom Martinis, Bellinis, Margaritas, blended Strawberry Margaritas, and Coors Light. The birthday boy was Coors Light man and the beer went fast. We ran out of beer before the party was over, but one of the guests came to the rescue and brought more.  Every crowd is different and it is hard to gauge what people are going to drink the most of.

SohoTaco

Hills of San Clemente

Hills of San Clemente

Portable bar with green trim

Portable bar with green trim

Sohotaco cart

Sohotaco cart

Shots!

Shots!

did the catering and they served up some awesome fish tacos and regular tacos. Overall it was a very nice event and a great group of people. I am tired after doing three events this week and only hope I will be this tired every week. Shaken Not Stirred as a business is really taking off and I am grateful. I hope to keep up the momentum.

Next week is Fourth of July weekend and I will be in Newport Beach for a Fourth of July party, and then have a big wedding to do with over 250 people in Santa Ana. Every Saturday is booked in July and I have four weddings in August. As they say where I come from – “make hay while the sun is still shining.”

Beverly Hills Moroccan Themed Birthday Party

28 Jun

Friday night I was the bartender at a Beverly Hill Moroccan themed birthday party. I was hired just a couple of days prior, so there wasn’t much time for preparation. I usually make a detailed list for people on what they need to buy for a party and a drink menu, but we didn’t really do that other than just over the phone. The bar was a little limited as for what I had to work with, but I made it work.

The host wanted to do a Moroccan themed drink and she made cinnamon infused simple syrup for the drink. I didn’t catch the name of the drink, but we coined it the “Moroccan Rocket”. It was made with Bullit Rye Whiskey, a dash of orange bitters, a dash of Rose’s lime juice, a teaspoon of the cinnamon infused simple syrup, and then club soda poured over ice with an orange peel garnish. It was a big hit!

I brought my martini glasses and served a few martinis. I had squeezed lemons from a tree in my back yard. We have the best, juiciest lemons I have ever seen. They have a darker peel than the lemons you buy in the stores, and they are so juicy and kind of sweet. I add an ounce of that to two and half ounces of vodka with a dash of simple syrup and add a lemon twist garnish. That makes the perfect Lemon Drop Martini.

We also served pomegranate martinis. I like to say I invented the pomegranate cosmo when I was bar manager at Frascati, but I’m sure about 10,000 other bartenders were also inventing it around the same time. There are different recipes, but I like to use Pom juice, and not pomegranate infused vodka. I like to use fresh ingredients rather than any infused liquor. I use two and half ouces of vodka, and ounce of Pom juice, and a dash of lime juice. The drink has a nice tart taste and is not too sweet.

I also made what I called “make shift margaritas” with tequila,  the fresh lemon juice and Rose’s lime and people loved them. I like working with fresh ingredients and will try to do more of that. Tonight, I’m off to a birthday party in San Clemente, and then next weekend I will do a Fourth of July party and a wedding in Orange County.

Welcome to Beverly Hills

Welcome to Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Backyard Bar

Beverly Hills Backyard Bar

Moroccan themed party

Moroccan themed party

Hollywood Screening Event

27 Jun

Last night Shaken Not Stirred did another week night event in Hollywood. I’ve been doing a weeknight corporate event almost every week for the past few weeks and I hope the trend continues – I love these gigs. Last night it was the premier of the second season of the Comedy Central series, Nathan For You. The event was held at the funky little theatre on Fairfax, Cinefamily

Beverage selection

Beverage selection

Terrance bar tending

Terrance bar tending

Industry mingling

Industry mingling

. The Theatre has a cool little outdoor space in the back for events like this with a bar.

I took a new bartender I have met with me, Terrance, who recently moved here from Rochester New York. We served around 180 people wine, beer, and sodas for about an hour before the screening, and then after the screening was over for a couple of hours. Stella Artois was the most popular beer of the night, followed by Ranger IPA. We served two highly rated wines for under $10 a bottle, Round Hill Chardonnay, and Gen 5 Cabernet.

I had made a shopping list for the event planner and he increased the beer order from what I had given him, which turned out to be a good thing – we went through almost all the beer. We served most of two cases of wine. Another successful event for Shaken Not Stirred. Another night in Hollywood where the television industry promotes its wares, and I hope to do many more events like this.

Tonight I am doing a cocktail party in Beverly Hills where we will be serving Manhattans, Whisky Sours, and Pomegranate martinis. I have twelve martini glasses I am bringing to the party, which makes it fun for everybody – including me. I love making martinis and pouring them into real martini glasses. I will do it again tomorrow night at a birthday party in San Clemente.

Shaken Not Stirred serves corporate events, screening, fundraisers, reunions, and openings. We also do birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, pool parties, barbecues, and holiday parties. I have booked a Fourth of July party in Newport Beach, which could be challenging, considering the traffic and parking situation. I will keep you posted.

Camp Pendleton Wedding

24 Jun
A wedding scene

A wedding scene

cp4

Bride and Groom on beach

Traditional chair dance

Traditional chair dance

Sunday I was the bartender at a wedding on the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton. They have a very nice beach resort there for active and retired members of the military. All branches of the military may enjoy the resort, not just Marines.  They have one and two bedroom villas on the beach available for rent at significant better rates than local hotels in the area, you can check out the website of the Del Mar Beach Resort. The wedding that I attended was on the sand in a tent.  All Occasion Disk Jockeys provided the wedding entertainment.

First of all, what I imagined and what the wedding was like were two very different things. I had exchanged several emails with the bride about the drink menu and shopping list, but had never actually talked to her on the phone. I assumed she was marrying a Marine and there would be many Marines in attendance in full uniform. I know that Marines can drink, so I made a shopping list accordingly. Fortunately, the bride knew better and didn’t exactly follow my shopping list or she would have bought way too much.

As it turns out the bride is a doctor in the Navy, and that was her connection to the military. There were no Marines in attendance! I was only bummed because I wanted a picture taken of me surrounded by Marines in full uniform! It was a very nice wedding despite of my expectations and a perfect scenic setting for a very memorable event.

Mojitos were one of the drinks on the drink menu. Mojitos are a very labor intensive drink and I usually make large batches of them. Also, Mojitos require many, many limes. I ran out of limes at this wedding and had to stop making Mojitos. I do not recommend having Mojitos for parties over 40 people. They are just too time consuming to make and will slow service way down.

This week I have a screening event to do in Hollywood, and then am heading down south to San Clemente to bartend a birthday party. Again, I will be making Mojitos. The Forth of July is still open on my schedule. I did not get a Forth of July party last year and hope I am not going to get skunked again. Oh well, I could just enjoy the forth with my own family and freinds, couldn’t I?

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