Porter Ranch Engagement Party and Los Angeles Sip and See

29 Jun Urban garden in Los Angeles
Guests arriving to Porter Ranch engagement party

Guests arriving to Porter Ranch engagement party

This past weekend Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending services at two events – the first being an engagement party in Porter Ranch, and then a daytime party in Los Angeles, as new parents celebrated the birth of their daughter.  Summer is here and so is the heat, the backyard parties, pool parties, large wedding and barbecues. Each type of party has its own kinds of challenges.

The engagement party at Porter Ranch was a backyard event that had two bars, and I provided two bartenders to serve 100 guests.  The future bride was of Persian heritage, and engagement parties are a big part of the Persian wedding tradition. I have done several Persian themed engagement parties and they have all been quite large and elaborate affairs.  For this event, I took my long time associate Mia to help me. She is always dependable and always a pro.

We set up two bars from scratch and that is all part of the preparation. The engagement party is structured similar to a wedding, and there is a program where certain things have to happen at certain times. The future bride’s brother acted as the MC of the event and he did an excellent job.  We served lots of Jack Daniels, Bacardi, and Kettle one.  The party went until midnight and the people were still dancing and having a great time as we broke the bars down.

Shots!

Shots!

I had a quick turnaround, because I didn’t get home until after one am, then had to be in mid-city Los Angeles to bartend the “sip and see” Sunday morning. The Cathay neighborhood of Los Angeles near Olympic and Fairfax is where I lived when I first came to LA, over twenty years ago. The nice thing about that neighborhood is that they get a nice ocean breeze, and it is typically 20 degrees cooler than the San Fernando Valley in the summer. The “Sip and See,” was a party organized by the parents so friends and family could see their one month old daughter. They did not have a baby shower, and instead chose to do it this way.

I set up my portable bar on the patio and we served Bloody Marys, Mimosas,  and Ginger Peach Bellinis. We always served  Bellinis for Sunday bruch when I worked at the former Frascati Ristorante in Redondo Beach, so I was quite familiar with them. I made the Bellini mix with ginger syrup and peach puree. All you need to do is pour in champagne.  It was a fun event and many of the guests sat out by the bar socializing. Simple Things of Los Angeles provided the food and I highly recommend it. They had the most amazing breakfast sandwiches and unique finger foods.

Urban garden in Los Angeles

Urban garden in Los Angeles

The Fourth of July is coming up next Saturday and I will be traveling to Orange County to bartend in the community of Villa Park. I am still available for Friday and Sunday parties, if anyone in the Los Angeles or Orange County is interested.

Shots!

Shots!

Altadena Surprise Party and Bakersfield Wedding

23 Jun Junior League of Bakersfield wedding
Getting "surprised"

Getting “surprised”

Friday started the weekend in Altadena for Shaken Not Stirred, where I traveled to bartend for a surprise party. The father hired me for his son’s 35th birthday surprise birthday, and it was martini themed party.  Friends and family gathered in the backyard, while the one of the birthday boy’s friends took him out to distract him long enough for us to get ready. I think he was truly surprised and overwhelmed when he did arrive.

I made Manhattans, dirty vodka martinis, gin martinis, and Lemon Drops. I brought my own martini glasses and they had several. It is always a pleasure for me to make martinis and serve them in real glassware. The presentation is just so much nicer. The birthday boy’s father manned the barbeque and made some killer trip tip.

Guests enjoying martinis in Altadena

Guests enjoying martinis in Altadena

For this job, I did all the shopping . It is a service I offer for a fee. I will buy everything you need, including all the alcohol, mixers, cups, straws, napkins and ice. I require an up front deposit for this, plus the service charge. People have trusted me with hundreds of dollars for this and I have never done them wrong. I have an excellent reputation and don’t want to jeopardize it one bit.

Saturday, I traveled to Bakersfield for my second wedding in Kern County. I also did the shopping for this wedding, and spent most of my day Saturday getting all the supplies together for a 100 person wedding. The wedding was held at the Junior League of Bakersfield. It is a historic building in downtown Bakersfield. I set up my portable bar in the corner of the dining room.

I served Mojitos, Margaritas, and various vodka drinks to the guests.  When serving Mojitos to a large crowd like this, I make a large batch, and serve them that way. I also get several drinks ready as the ceremony is taking place, so that when everybody rushes in afterward, I can make the line go fast. It is ideal to have a barback, but I handled the 100 person  Bakersfield wedding by myself just fine.

Junior League of Bakersfield wedding

Junior League of Bakersfield wedding

Everything went pretty well until the last five minutes, when friends and family were cleaning up the dining room. Some drama broke out among some of the guests outside. The bride looked at me and rolled her eyes, “We almost made it without something like that happening. We almost made it,” she said.  It seems that machismo and alcohol don’t always mix. Believe me, nobody knows that better than me. Kevin Rush was the DJ and he helped to diffuse the situation. I can see that he is a true pro and dealing with situations like that, and also did a very good job of DJing and running the wedding program for the night.

This weekend I have an engagement party in Porter Ranch, and then a Fourth of July party coming up in Orange County.  I still have a few dates open in July, so book your parties now.

Shots!

Shots!

Chino Hills Graduation Party

14 Jun Guests dancing to the "Cupid Shuffle"
Storm clouds disappearing in Chino Hills

Storm clouds disappearing in Chino Hills

Saturday night, Shaken Not Stirred bartending service was on hand for a graduation party in Chino Hills. It was a high school graduation party, though I didn’t serve alcohol to the high school graduates, but served to their parents and older friends and relatives. It was a very mellow party, though no doubt an important milestone in a young woman’s life, as she prepares to embark on the next adventure in her life – a college career.

I am always impressed when family members throw parties in honor of each other. I have said this 100 times on this blog, and I will say it again. Anyone who has a party thrown in their honor is a very blessed person. The father of the graduate was so proud of his daughter, and gave a very touching speech on her behalf. Nobody threw a graduation party for me, because I was a terrible student in high school, and a rebellious teen – I didn’t give my parents much to be proud of in high school. The fact that I even graduated is a miracle.

That being said, the group of high school graduated at the Chino hills graduation party were a very nice group of kids. None of them tried to get me to serve them alcohol. They seemed to have a great time sitting at their own table, and when it came time for dancing, they all got out on the dance floor. Anybody who says the youth of today are totally worthless, I will have to say there are countless examples to contrary.

Guests dancing to the "Cupid Shuffle"

Guests dancing to the “Cupid Shuffle”

I served Cadillac Margaritas, Old Fashioneds, and wine. It was not a hard drinking crowd, but I seemed to stay busy. I have a blender and don’t mind making blended drinks at all. I am pretty good at making them, because I made thousands of blended drinks when I worked at the bar at LAX. We made pina colladas, daiquiris, and margaritas blended. People are amazed when I pour the ingredients into the blender, blend it up, then pour into the glass and it pours right to the top of the glass with nothing left over. That comes with practice.

Next week I will be bartending a birthday party in Pasadena on Friday, then travel to Bakersfield on Saturday for a rather large wedding. I am doing all the shopping for the wedding, which I don’t mind doing for a small service charge. This will be my first event in Bakersfield, and I don’t mind going up there, or anywhere if it makes sense financially. At this point, I am still available for the Fourth of July, though I have been emailing back and forth with one person.

Backyard party setup

Backyard party setup

Los Angeles Bartending Service Does 4 Events Over Weekend

8 Jun Back lot at McCormick Ranch
Bar at McCormick Ranch

Bar at McCormick Ranch

Shaken Not Stirred, the Los Angeles bartending service, was present for four different events this past weekend.  This was a record for Rob Neighbors, veteran event bartender for three days. He was official bartender at a wedding in Camarillo on Friday, set up bar in Bel Aire and Manhattan Beach on Saturday, and then attended a champagne tasting on Sunday.

First of all, Friday, Shaken Not Stirred traveled to Camarillo to the McCormick Ranch to bartend a wedding.  This was my second time at this venue, and it was a pleasure both times.  I highly recommend this venue in Ventura County. It is a just an excellent, peaceful, and beautiful place for a wedding. The people who hired me couldn’t have been nicer.  The groom was helping organize thing minutes before the ceremony. Not one person involved in the wedding seemed to be the least bit stressed, and that carried over – everything went as planned. The couple was married successfully, and I predict a great future for them, because both the bride and groom were so humble and quality people, which reflects on their parents. By the way, the parents were all there and were all fantastic people in my opinion.

Back lot at McCormick Ranch

Back lot at McCormick Ranch

As I was preparing for the wedding in Camarillo, I got a call from my Yelp site. A host in Bel Aire needed an emergency bartender for a daytime party. I decided I could do the event before I had to be in Manhattan Beach at 6pm. It was a children’s party in Bel Aire, complete with face painters, petting zoo, balloon makers, authentic soul food caterer, and me, the bartender. I made margaritas and poured wine, as the kids played and enjoyed the various amusements.  I’m glad I took the event and hope to work for these clients again.

Portable bar set up in Bel Aire

Portable bar set up in Bel Aire

Saturday Night I worked a Las Vegas themed 50th birthday party in Manhattan Beach. I had made some specialty drinks for the party that we planned in advance. I made “Sweet Heat,” which is a spicy vodka drink, that is hard to explain, but I would say it is a vodka margarita. People really liked it. They had a craps table and a blackjack table on hand and I think people really had a good time.  The house actually looked like a real casino, and the guests were dressed accordingly.

Mock casino in Manhattan Beach

Mock casino in Manhattan Beach

Sunday night, I rounded out the weekend by doing a champagne tasting at the Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica. I served a lesser known, but very established French Champagne, which was rumored to be the favorite champagne of Charles De Galle. I had a blast talking to people and serving the champagne. A long line formed as people waited to get to the Cristal Champagne table. I talked to literally hundreds of people and they were mostly very impressed by the champagne I was serving. As a bonus, I got to keep several bottles of very nice champagne, which I plan on serving at my book signing.

Another great weekend for Shaken Not Stirred.  On Wednesday, I am back to Beverly Hills for a cocktail hour for one of my best clients. On Saturday, I will travel to Chino Hills to bartend for a birthday party. Shaken Not Stirred is the Los Angeles bartending service on the scene.

Champagne waiting to be tasted

Champagne waiting to be tasted

40th Birthday Party in the City of Orange

1 Jun Friends and family enjoy a toast
Friends and family enjoy a toast

Friends and family enjoy a toast

Saturday night Shaken Not Stirred traveled to the City of Orange to bartend a 4oth birthday party. They requested a server and I took one of my best with me. We arrived on time, but no thanks to my GPS, which took me on some convoluted route that potentially cost us 30 minutes on the road. I hate being late, and always leave plenty early – I would rather arrive way early and hang out in the area, than be stressing in heavy traffic with only minutes to go. In Los Angeles, traffic on Saturdays is murder.

The drink special of the night was the Vodka Collins. I make the drink with vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. The drink seemed to be a hit because many people kept returning for another. I also made some Old Fashioneds, and we served Victoria beer, which seems to be the popular new Mexican beer on the scene. Moet Chandon was the champagne of choice, and we also served Nero D’Avola, the red wine from Sicily.

Makeshift dance floor

Makeshift dance floor

The party took place in a condo and we set up the portable bar in the kitchen. We used real glassware, which was always nice. They did not hire a caterer, but instead got empanadas and finger sandwiches. My server kept replenishing the food and helped me with glassware etc. We both kept pretty busy the entire party.

Shots!

Shots!

I was hired to do this party from another party I had bartended at in Orange County. I was booked to do another party in October, at this one. It is always nice when I don’t have work so hard to generate new business. I am constantly bidding on Thumbtack, Gig Salad, and leads that come from Yelp and this blog. My phone skills are much better than they were in the beginning, and if I can get new clients on the phone, I can usually close the deal.

Shaken Not Stirred has been in business for over two years and I have bartended at over 150 events.  This week I have three events scheduled, including a wedding at the McCormick Ranch Home in Camarillo, a Vegas themed cocktail party in Manhattan Beach, and a champagne tasting in Santa Monica on Sunday.

Castaic Graduation Party

24 May Shots!
Mariachis making a grand entrance

Mariachis making a grand entrance

Last night Shaken Not Stirred was the bartending service on hand at a graduation party in Castaic. This was the second graduation party I have done this month, and I have realized that a graduation is something very worthy of a celebration. The graduates have worked hard and sacrificed for however many years, and are certainly deserving of a celebration of the highest order. In this case, the graduate the party was in honor of, graduated from USC in the accounting program.

I just realized something tonight as I was sitting in restaurant waiting for my meal.  I saw a couple and I thought I recognized them. Maybe I even bartended their wedding. They were deep in conversation and I didn’t want to interrupt them. I felt a little sad, because I thought of all the weddings, birthday parties, graduations, and engagement parties I have done. All of the people start to blend together. I want to remember all of them, but it is hard.

I have said this before – the greatest thing about bartending private events is that I get to be present as people experience major milestones in their lives. People get married, have 40th birthday parties, have anniversary parties, house warming parties, retirement parties, and I am there pouring drinks through all of it.

Everyone dances

Everyone dances

Last night the Castaic graduation party was a perfect example of how cool it is. The graduate’s father got up and gave speech about how special it was for him to have a daughter, and how proud he was of her to follow him into his chosen profession. It was such a heartfelt speech, and couldn’t be duplicated in a movie. I have heard speech after speech like this.

Today, I am in a hotel room in Banning looking out the window at the mountains in the distance. The sun is shining now, but wasn’t all day and it was unseasonably cold for Southern California. I was supposed to bartend a pool party today in Palm Springs, but it was canceled due to bad weather.  That is the first time this has happened. Maybe I should ask for a bigger deposit. I am not freaking out about it, because I know it is not the norm.

Next weekend I travel to Orange County to bartend a birthday party. I have several birthday parties, weddings, and graduation parties booked next month. Shaken Not Stirred is doing well bartending events all over Southern California.

Shots!

Shots!

Los Angeles Corporate Event

20 May Jalapeno margarita

Shaken Not Stirred, the Los Angeles event bartending service was on hand at a corporate event in the Hancock Park area of LA. Shaken Not Stirred handled many aspects of the event including bar, table, and glassware rentals. Shaken Not Stirred also handled shopping services for all of the beverages, garnishes, and supplies.

I worked closely with the people putting on this event, making sure they got the right glassware, the types of table clothes, ect. We also made a drink menu and shopping list together, down to the wine selection. I made my special cucumber, and jalapeno margarita mixes for the specialty drinks. We served four different wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Rose.

I estimated how much wine we would need based on the approximate number of people (65). It has been my experience that people tend to drink less at these corporate functions, as many people make a quick appearance, have one drink, and then leave. That was not the case at this party, as most of the guests were foreign clients, and they tended to stay longer and drink more. It was a good thing that the host at the last minute, had me by more wine. We ended up going through most of it.

In And Out caters event

In And Out caters event

My margaritas seemed to be a hit, and I used most of my mixes. It seemed to have been split 50/50 between the two types of margaritas. I make my jalapeno margarita mix by combing fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, agave syrup and then blending all that together with jalapenos. It is a little spicy, but not overwhelming. I used red pepper as a garnish, along with a lime and a salt rim.

Jalapeno margarita

Jalapeno margarita

In And Out performed catering services for the corporate event. This was the first time I had seen them at a function. They set up a tent in the backyard to serve the guests, and had a truck out on the street doing the cooking. I think that these guests truly appreciated it, because they don’t have In And Out, outside the USA. I enjoyed my burger, even though it was cold by the time I ate it. It even tasted better cold.

Tomorrow night, I will bartend another industry party in Beverly Hills, at the home of one of my best clients. Then, on Saturday night, I will travel to Castaic to bartend a graduation party. May has been a good month for me, and primarily due to repeat business and referrals. That makes it nice when I don’t have to fight for every job I get, though I will continue to keep my eye on the tiger.

Guests mingle during cocktail party

Guests mingle during cocktail party

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