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San Marcos Martini Party

23 Jan
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Portable bar set up in San Marcos home

 

On Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred drove to San Marcos in San Diego County to provide bartending service at an annual martini party. The hosts have put on this annual martini party in January for over ten years. The difference this year is that they hired a bartender. In the past, the guests made their own drinks, but this year they decided to bring a pro in to bartend.

The host provided me with a list of martinis four pages long that the guests could choose from. There were at least twenty different ingredients needed for the various drinks. I don’t usually recommend that people use a drink menu this diverse, mainly to keep costs down. In this case the host had all of the ingredients – many left over from other parties.

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Guest enjoys a “Dirty Martini”

I made lemon drops, appletinis, pom cosmos, dirty martinis, fireball martinis, Key Lime martinis, among others. I am able to do drinks quickly I have never done before if I have the recipe. I think the hosts were happy to have a bartender. It gave them more time to enjoy the party and not worry about restocking the bar. Etc.

Martini Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartender
  • Use real martini glasses
  • Use fresh ingredients
  • Provide a drink menu
  • Choose a theme

The host had plenty of martini glasses, and it is always nice to work with real glassware. I like to shake the drinks long enough that there is a layer of ice floating on top of the drink. I made a lot of martinis when I was a bartender at an Italian restaurant in Redondo Beach. I tend to believe that good martinis are mostly alcohol, and I like to keep the mixers to a minimum. I think there is nothing worse than a syrupy martini. I think I brought my expertise at making martinis to the martini party in San Marcos. Here is the customer’s review of me on Thumbtack: Best bartender possible!

“Rob was amazing! Guests glasses were never empty. Very professional, polite and conscientious! Would highly recommend him for any event.”

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Guests mingle at martini party

This coming weekend I will be bartending a surprise birthday party in Burbank, and then at the beginning of February I will be doing parties in Palm Springs, Glendora, and Sherman Oaks. I am looking forward to servicing weddings, birthday parties, corporate events, and doing the occasional martini party. I am still available for Super Bowl parties. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Los Angeles Bar Service at Two January Parties

17 Jan
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Friends and family surprise guest of honor

Shaken Not Stirred, the Los Angeles bar service provided beverages at two area parties over the weekend. On Saturday I traveled to Redondo Beach to bartend a 40th surprise birthday party, and then on Sunday evening I bartended a lavish dinner party in Beverly Hills. January is typically a slow month in the bar catering business, and it is always nice to get more than one event on the weekend.

I arrived at 10 am in Redondo Beach to set up my portable bar. It was a beautiful sunny day after all the rainy days we’ve been having. It is always a gamble to schedule an outdoor party in January in LA, but this time the host lucked out. The party was held a an iconic Redondo Beach house that I have passed many times and always wondered what it was. It is home to an accounting office, but it has a wonderful backyard that is perfect for having parties.

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Beautiful day and ice sculpture at surprise party 

The host went to great lengths the plan the party and conceal it from his wife. He hired a caterer, Chef Mumsie, a photo booth, Nina Gallery, and a guitar player/singer (I didn’t get his card). The birthday girl was truly surprised and touched when she arrived. Surprise parties are usually great and I’m sure they last as precious memories in a person’s life. I have provided bartending service at many surprise birthday parties, and they always require coordination between the various family members and vendors.

Hire a Los Angeles Bar Service

  • Don’t let your guests pour their own drinks
  • Enjoy the party
  • Get help with drink menu and shopping list
  • Get a portable bar
  • Impress your guests
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    Bar setup in Beverly Hills

    On Sunday I returned to the home of one of my best clients to bartend a very nice dinner party. Jon and Vinny’s of Hollywood catered the event and they offered to bring their own bartender, but my clients wanted me. I was very appreciative of that. I worked well with the catering crew, and they took most of the drink orders and did the cocktailing for me. I brought my Jalapeno margarita mix and mixed it with mescal, which also works very good. I must say that the food from Jon and Vinny’s was excellent, and I cleaned every morsel off of my plate.

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    Dinner party in Beverly Hills

    This weekend I am traveling all the way to San Marcos in North County, San Diego to bartend a martini party. It is supposed to rain the entire weekend, so I hope that does not ruin the party. I know I am bringing the portable bar and we usually set that up outside. Next month is shaping up to be very busy for the Los Angeles bar service, Shaken Not Stirred and I will be doing parties in Sherman Oaks, Glendora, Studio City, and Palm Springs so far. I still have Super Bowl Sunday open, so hope that I get a party there somewhere along the way.

Villa Park Dinner Party

14 Oct
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Guests mingle for cocktail hour

One of my best clients called me to provide bartending service for a Wednesday night dinner party she and her husband were hosting at their home in Villa Park. Villa Park is a very nice upscale community near the city of Orange in Orange County. The dinner was a business event and 25 guests were invited. I was there to make cocktails before dinner and assist with serving the dinner.

I have said this before, but these clients have the best backyard bar I have ever worked at. It is well stocked with top shelf liquor, and is better equipped than many restaurant bars. It is a real pleasure to work from. I was serving Veuve Clicquot champagne and many of the guests drank that at cocktail hour. It is an exceptional brand of champagne. I made a few cocktails and the catering service, Jillian Fae Chef Services, put out some amazing appetizers, including oysters on the half shell, fresh scallops, and a wonderful spread of cheeses.

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Oysters on the halfshell at Villa Park dinner party

After the cocktail party the guests moved to their tables for a four course dinner. I poured wine and kept the cocktails coming, while a waiter from the catering company started serving the dinner. When I wasn’t busy pouring wine and making drinks, I helped the waiter serve the food and clear the plates. It is something I have quite a bit of experience doing, because I worked in fine dining for years. The chef put out an excellent dinner that included a pear salad, short ribs, and many other goodies.

Dinner Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartender
  • Choose a theme
  • Find a caterer to go with theme
  • Invite interesting guests

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    No cheap wine served in Villa Park

The dinner party in Villa Park was a big success because it was well planned and executed. Hopefully I will return there many more times. Tomorrow I will travel to Woodland Hills to bartend a birthday party, and then next weekend I am going to Sylmar to make drinks for a 70th surprise birthday party. Call are starting to come in for the holiday season and I booked two repeat holiday parties in November yesterday. There are still many dates left in December, but they will go fast.

La Quinta Cocktail Party

11 Oct
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La Quinta Rental home across from Desert Trip

Sunday I got a last minute call to bartend a cocktail party in La Quinta. The call came at 10 am and they wanted me there by 1pm – La Quinta is 150 miles from my house. I told him I could be there by two. I put on my mobile bartender suit, loaded my cooler and bar kit and drove out there. Desert Trip, the three day music festival was going on just across the road from where I was bartending and 90,000 people were in town for that.

My job was simple, set up my portable bar by the pool and serve cocktails for an hour or two, and then serve wine at dinner. There were ten guests in from Maryland to attend the Desert Trip show and I was to serve them drinks before the show. I served Moscow Mules, Mexican Mules, and Kentucky Mules. The people that hired me were somehow connected to the Desert Trip promoters, and the guests I was serving were VIPS, also somehow connected to the promoters.

This was the second time Shaken Not Stirred went out to the Coachella Valley in two weeks. I go out there, when it is worth my while, and I always enjoy the area. The dramatic landscape just makes me feel good for some reason, and it is always nice to get a reprieve from LA. The group I was serving were all very nice and I made them all a couple of drinks a piece. This was a typical intimate cocktail party.

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Tequila shots at La Quinta cocktail party

Cocktail Party Procedure

  • Serve specialty drinks
  • Craft cocktails
  • Use appropriate glassware
  • Serve drinks on a tray

After the guests had a couple of cocktails, they all moved inside for dinner. A private chef was there and she prepared a fantastic four course dinner. She didn’t have a card and said she would email me her info, but has not done so yet. The meal included a rabbit pate appetizer, wild King Salmon filets, roasted chicken, and various fresh roasted vegetables. I served the wine and cleared the plates. I have alot of experience doing this and enjoy doing it for groups like this.

After dinner, the guests quickly left to attend the third night of Desert Trip. The Who and Rodger Waters were playing. I packed up and finished just in time to take in the presidential debate. On Wednesday I will be driving to Orange County to bartend an event for some of my best clients, and then on Saturday, I will be staying close to home and doing a birthday party in Woodland Hills.

Beaumont Cocktail Party

6 Sep
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Goodfellas standing by in Beaumont with their brand new taco cart

Thursday Shaken Not Stirred was called out to Beaumont in Riverside County to provide bartending service for a mid-week cocktail party. I was hired through a catering company I have seen at many events, Goodfella’s Tacos, and I hope to return the favor and get them some business, though they are very busy already, and provide great service. The party was held out a new subdivision south of the 10 freeway called the Four Seasons, and it is a very nice development.

The host told me that the party was actually a celebration of her wedding anniversary. Her husband had unexpectedly died less than a year ago, just shortly after they moved into the new Beaumont house. She said that she wanted to have a party rather than sitting around feeling sad on that day. She believed that is what her husband would have wanted, and I’m sure she is right. At least 60 of her friends showed up, and anytime you are able to get 60 people to come out on a weeknight in Southern California, means that you have done something right.

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Cocktail party in Beaumont warming up

Cocktail Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartender
  • Choose a theme
  • Create specialty cocktails
  • Hire a caterer
  • Choose entertainment

I served blended Margaritas, and Margaritas on the rocks. I also served some Daiquiris and a lot of beers. It was an older crowd of mostly retirees and I felt that we had way too many supplies for this cocktail party, but we went through plenty. The host hired a Mariachi band to perform and that was fun for everybody. The Goodfellas served their great tacos, and there was another dessert person that provided the sweets. The host and several of her friends wrapped up the party playing a dice game.

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Mariachis perform at Beaumont cocktail party

That was the first event of a busy traveling weekend for Shaken Not Stirred. On Saturday I had to drive to New Cuyama in Santa Barbara County for a wedding, and then turn right around and drive to Acton for a Labor Day party. Needless to say, I was quite tired on Monday – actual Labor Day, and was kind of glad I didn’t have an event that day.  

 

Shaken Not Stirred Cocktails

22 Feb
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Salty Dog

Last weekend Shaken Not Stirred was quiet for the first time in a long time. I wasn’t happy about it, but it gave me time to refocus my efforts and do some house cleaning. On Sunday, I was feeling a little down because I had no jobs for the weekend, and one of my former clients called me and booked two parties in the Spring. Things will get busy soon enough, and starting this weekend, I have two weddings to bartend in the Palm Springs area. I have a new Palm Springs Yelp page which I have no reviews on, so hopefully I can get some reviews on there after this weekend.

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Cucumber Margaritas

People are always asking me for cocktail ideas for their parties. I have compiled a list of drinks that I often do at parties. I can do many other drinks, but I think this is good start. Most of these are fairly simple drinks that can be quickly made for large crowds. I hate the term “mixologist,” – I think it is pretentious.  Although I can do craft cocktails, this isn’t brain surgery. My secret to making good drinks is making them strong. I am from the dive bar school of bartenders. The other thing I have learned is that most drinks have one part citrus, and one part sweetening agent, with two parts alcohol. The good thing about Southern California is that we have an abundance of fresh citrus, that makes for excellent cocktails. I try to use fresh ingredients whenever I can and it make s a big difference.  Here are a list of cocktails categorized by their base liquor.

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Jalapeno Margarita

Vodka

Dirty Martini – vodka or gin, dry vermouth, olive juice, olive garnish

Pom Cosmo – vodka, Pom juice, fresh lime juice, lime garnish

Black Opal Martini – vodka, Black Sambuca

Bay Breeze – vodka, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, lime garnish

Sea Breeze – vodka, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, lime garnish

Salty Dog – vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, salt rim, lime garnish

Moscow Mule – vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, lime garnish

Appletini – vodka, apple pucker, cherry garnish

Long Island Ice Tea – vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec, sweet and sour, Coke, lemon wedge

Boccacio – vodka, coconut water, splash of orange juice, orange slice (my creation)

White Russian – vodka, Kahlua, milk

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Cosmo

Tequila

Paloma – tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, lime garnish

Mexican Mule – tequila, ginger beer, lime juice, lime garnish

Cadillac Margarita – tequila, margarita mix, Gran Marnier, salt rim, lime garnish

Cucumber Margarita – tequila, cucumber syrup, lime juice, cucumber garnish

Jalapeno Margarita – tequila, blended jalapenos and margarita mix, lime garnish

Tequila Sunrise – tequila, orange juice, grenadine, lime garnish

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Supplies

Rum

Mojito – white rum, simple syrup, muddled mint, lime juice, club soda, lime garnish

Mai Tai – white rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, Myer’s rum, lime garnish

Pina Collada – white rum, pina mix, pineapple juice, pineapple garnish

Caipirinha – rum, brown sugar, lime juice, lime garnish

Cuba Libre – rum, Coke, lime garnish

Bourbon

Manhattan – bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, cherry garnish

Old Fashioned – bourbon, bitters, muddled cherry and orange slice, sugar cube, soda

Kentucky Mule – bourbon, ginger beer, lime juice, lime garnish

Mint Julep – bourbon, mint leaves, water, simple syrup

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Drinks waiting to go out

Gin

Vesper Martini – gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, lemon twist garnish

Classic Martini – gin, dry vermouth, olive garnish (can substitute vodka)

Tom Collins – gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, soda

Fleur Di Paradis – gin, St. Germaine, simple syrup, champagne

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Screwdriver

Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands of combinations and cocktails, and many different liqueurs that I haven’t mentioned here. I tried to stick to the basics. Let me know what cocktail ideas you have and I will try to accommodate you. I have not yet booked the Fourth of July, so if you are planning a party on that day, call me and book it today at (310) 280-6103.

December Bar Catering Begins

8 Dec
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Pastel sky above Rancho Mirage

December bar catering kicked of for Shaken Not Stirred last month with two big events in Rancho Mirage and Valley Village. On Thursday I traveled to one of my favorite places – Rancho Mirage to bartend a company holiday party at Desert Periodontics, and then on Saturday, I bartended a holiday party at a private home in Valley Village, only a mile and a half from my home. These were both repeat clients, which I love getting because I don’t have to work so hard to generate new business.

I have done several events for Desert Peridontics. They have ongoing education for other dentists in the area, and host events for dental products suppliers. They usually have food and host a bar. I set up my portable bar and table for a cocktail hour before the presentation. For this party I served spiked eggnog, White Russians, and Jalapeno Margaritas. It was a very mellow party and there were approximately 50 guests.

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Spiked eggnog

Bar Catering Duties

  • Plan drink menu and shopping list
    Develop cocktail ideas
    Setup and breakdown
    Portable bar
    Cleanup
    Light food service
    Make and serve cocktails
    Beer and wine service
    Non alcoholic drinks

On Saturday, I returned to a San Fernando Valley home in Valley Village for a repeat holiday party. I set up my portable bar and table in the back yard, just as I had a year prior. I remember last year it was much colder. This year, I served two specialty drinks, the Cranberry Old Fashioned, and the Moscow Mule. Those two drinks are perfect for Christmas parties. There 80 guests at the party, and everyone seemed to enjoy the drinks.

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Bar Supplies in Valley Village

Tomorrow, I will bartend a company holiday party in Hollywood for a television production company. This is another repeat client. I will be taking my daughter with me to help out, as there are supposed to be over 100 guests. This weekend I have two more parties scheduled – one in San Gabriel, and one in the Hollywood Hills. I still have Saturday, December 26th available, and several weekdays open for parties, if you have not yet booked someone.

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Guests mingle in Valley Village