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Five Special Events in SoCal

30 May

Shaken Not Stirred closed out the month of May with five big special events throughout Southern California this week. I am dog tired and sore as I write this, as I served literally hundreds of drinks in the past few days – maybe even thousands. Yesterday alone I served four cases of tequila and a case of whiskey. Today is Memorial Day and I am taking it easy, but if somebody calls me last minute I will probably put on my bartender cape.

Brea Corporate Event

The first event of the week was a corporate event in Brea. I am not sure what the occasion was, but we served drinks to 200 people in the back lot of the company headquarters. We used the drink dispensers to pour margaritas, which saves alot of time. Two bartenders are needed to serve 200 people. Mariachi Sabor De Mi Tierra provided the mariachis. They had a three different food trucks serving up the food.My associate, Mia Martini helped me out, and we worked well together as always.

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Cocktail waitress at Brea event

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Guests mingle in makeshift food court

El Segundo Corporate Event

The following night I traveled to El Segundo to help Mia Martini with one of her gigs. Once again it was a corporate event on a weeknight (I love those). The company that hosted the event was a 3D printing company that manufactures parts for the aerospace industry. Their equipment is quite fascinating and I’m sure this company has a bright future. The caterer did not show up and when the host called him, he apparently had the date wrong. The hosts scrambled and ordered pizzas and a local El Segundo restaurant stepped up and delivered 50 pizzas and salads within an hour. This is one of my worst nightmares that I mix up a date and miss an event. That isa why I always confirm a week in advance, and again the day before.

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Mia Martini in El Segundo

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A Hurricane hits El Segundo

Alexandria Ballroom Wedding

On Saturday night my son and I bartended a wedding at the historic Alexandria Ballroom in downtown LA. The ballroom has hosted presidents and dignitaries like Winston Churchill in the past. Once again, we were serving 200 people. The plan was to have a whole bunch of drinks already poured so the people could just grab them when they came out of the wedding ceremony. I poured a bunch of red wines and was waiting to start pouring the cold drinks until fifteen minutes before the end of the ceremony. Well, the ceremony ended 20 minutes early and we were faced with a wall of people wanting drinks. We handled it. Maxim Restaurant provided the catering and they had many delicious Russian specialties.

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My son bartending at Alexandria Ballroom

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Guests mingle at Alexandria Ballroom

Palos Verdes Wine Tasting

On Sunday afternoon, I traveled to my old stomping grounds in Palos Verdes Estates to pour wine for Jaques at Le Rive Gauche. He put out a spread of appetizers and charged people $20 a head to taste several French wines. It was a great deal and I think all of the people attending certainly got their money’s worth. He had two red Bordeaux, a white Bordeaux, a Grenache, a Champagne, and two Cotes Du Rhone reds. The Grenache, a rose wine seemed create the most attention.

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Le Rive Gauche, Palos Verdes Estates

Santa Monica Wrap Party

I had to quickly transition from the wine tasting and hustle over to Santa Monica to bartend a wrap party. I had to buy the ice and supplies and deliver it to the house where the party was taking place. The house was on PCH and had a weird address. The GPS kept directing me to this parking lot by the beach. If I left that parking lot, it took me twenty minutes to turn around and go back on PCH. I was a few minutes late and had to pack all the supplies around the back of the house through the sand. I barely had gotten setup when guests started arriving. I served 120 people by myself for five hours straight. I was so busy I didn’t have time to ask the name of film that they were wrapping or what is is about.  Needless to say, I am tired today after five special events in one week..

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Portable bar at beachside wrap party

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The wrap party just getting started in Santa Monica

Next weekend I will be bartending a birthday party in Stevenson Ranch on Friday, and then have a wedding party in Eagle Rock on Saturday, and my son will be doing a wedding party by himself in Sierra Madre also on that day.

 

Team Building in Santa Barbara

25 Apr
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Cruise ship off the Santa Barbara Pier

On Sunday I participated in a team building event at a writer’s retreat in beautiful Santa Barbara. I have done bartending presentations and “classes” on how to make cocktails, but this was my first team building event. It was a great experience for me, and I think for the other participants, and I hope to more of these types of events in the future.

A major literary agency from New York hired me to facilitate the event. The participants, all leading writers with the agency were to create their own special cocktail with my help. I made a shopping list of bar basics and fresh ingredients for the participants to use as building blocks for their new creation. I chose  tequila, rum, vodka, and bourbon as the bases. Simple syrup, bitters, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh pineapple juice, strawberries, cucumbers, and mint leaves made up the rest of the ingredients, along with some club soda and tonic water.

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Ingredients for team building cocktail fest

Purpose of Team Building

  • Bind the group
  • Align goals
  • Establish leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Accomplish goals

I explained that I can make several different types of margaritas, daiquiris, sour drinks, and tropical drinks with just those ingredients. The participants came up with a orange mojito as the ice breaker drink. I made those for all of the participants and that got the ideas flowing. The participants finally agreed on a bourbon sour made with bourbon, fresh lemon juice, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and a dash of bitters with a twist garnish. Everyone agreed it was delish.

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Team building facilitators at Los Arboles Ranch

I notice when I do these types of things, certain participants quickly establish dominance. Just like with jury duty, a leader usually self appoints. Those participants who don’t speak up will end up going along with whatever the others decide. Maybe that is part of the reason companies do these type of things, to quickly see who the leaders and followers are. I doubt that was the case here, since we were only doing cocktails. As I always say, it’s not brain surgery

The event was held at Los Aboles Ranch in Santa Barbara. This was a fantastic location for a retreat, in a great area. It doesn’t look like much from the front, but wait until you get back into the compound – a perfect mix of privacy and luxury. Vallefresh of Santa Barbara provided the catering. I hope to return again.

 

Three Day Event at LA Mart

6 Apr
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New Skyscraper going up in Downtown LA

Shaken Not Stirred just finished providing bartending service for a three day event at the LA Mart in downtown Los Angeles.  I have done many events for them, and for this event they were offering complimentary Mimosas to the buyers that were at the Mart for their annual Spring designer week. I always like doing these events and it is fun talking to all the people going through there. I have even made some friendships with some of the sellers in the building who have seen during the different events that I have done there.

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People bring their dogs to work at LA Mart

The LA Mart is the largest marketplace of its kind west of the Mississippi. I think they like to serve complimentary drinks as a way to set themselves apart from other markets. Many of the buyers don’t want to start drinking at 9am, but it is a nice touch anyway. Some of the buyers are in ffrom out of town, so they try to have some fun and make a semi vacation out of it.

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Makings for Mimosas

I am ABC certified and have taken the LEADS class put on by the California ABC, and that is required to serve alcohol at the LA Mart. Most venues and corporate clients require that.  I will be taking another class soon to keep that up to date. The state ABC classes are held at various locations around the city once a month.

LA Mart/The Reef

  • Open five days a week
  • 500,000 square feet of showrooms
  • Permanent showrooms
  • Furniture, gift items, premium product lines
  • South of downtown Los Angeles

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    Showroom window at LA Mart

I am now getting ready for a big weekend in the Coachella Valley. I have a wedding party in La Quinta on Friday night, and then another one on Saturday night. I will be serving several exciting drinks to hundreds of people in the desert, including the Sazerac cocktail, which I have never made before.

3 Day Corporate Event in Downtown LA

1 Feb
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Interesting merchandise at The Reef

I bartended a 3 day corporate event in Downtown LA last week at the LA Mart, also known as The Reef. This is the third time I have been called back there, and it always nice to get repeat business. The Reef is a twelve story building in Downtown Los Angeles that is home to dozens of showrooms where distributors and importers show their wares to wholesale buyers. They have several shows a year that attract buyers from all over the country.

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The Reef in Downtown LA

The Reef sets up bars every day during the special markets to serve complimentary wine to the buyers. The idea of course is to get them in the mood to buy, buy, buy. These are always fun events and I end up talking to and serving hundreds of people during the three day period. On the final day, they had a reception for the buyers and sellers and we served wine and beer. It was a great way to cap off the three day event.

After the Saturday night event I was driving home and I took Broadway, which I quickly learned was a mistake. They were having a special “Bringing Back Broadway” event and thousands of people were walking along Broadway and standing in line outside the old theatres down there. It took me twenty minutes to drive one block. I finally got off of Broadway and onto Olive, and that was my second fatal mistake. Cars were jammed solid in every direction. It took me one hour to go a block and get off of Olive. It was a good thing I was not on my way to a job.  This is why I almost always leave two hours early to any job I do in Los Angeles.

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Bar setup at The Reef

Downtown LA Events

  • Grand Openings
  • Trade Shows
  • Conventions
  • Corporate Events
  • Client Appreciation
  • Retirement parties

Next week I will travel to Palm Springs to bartend an all day party on Saturday, and then am doing a repeat performance Super Bowl Party on Sunday in Glendora. I have two more wedding events going on in Palm Springs at the end of the month, and a Valentine’s Day wedding in South Bay on February 14. The month of March is still pretty open, so book you parties now.

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Buyers and sellers mingle at The Reef

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

Venice Beach Corporate Event

19 Nov
Corporate event before the madness

Corporate event before the madness

Wednesday Shaken Not Stirred provided bartenders for a large corporate event in Venice Beach. This was the first of many holiday company parties Shaken Not Stirred has contracted to do in the next month and a half. The Venice event required two bartenders and two barbacks to provide service for approximately 300 guests.  ‘

I worked extensively with the company party planner developing a drink menu and shopping list. She wanted Thanksgiving themed cocktails and chose a Cranberry Old Fashioned, an Apple Cider Moscow Mule, and an Apple Pie sparkler as a mocktail. Now, how to serve these moderately complex drinks to 300 people in three hours.

Guests mingle in Venice Beach

Guests mingle in Venice Beach

I normally don’t recommend serving drinks that require any muddling, fresh fruit, or four different ingredients to large crowds. We worked it out. Otto, a veteran Hollywood nightclub bartender was working with me and he showed me how to muddle fruit, sugar, and bitters in masses, so all we had to do was add a spoonful to each Old Fashioned and mix the drink.

Corporate Event Bartenders

  • Company holiday parties
  • Client appreciation
  • Grand Openings
  • Screenings
  • Product launches
  • Conferences

I had my barback putting ice into glasses and booze and then I mixed the drink. I saw the line circulating three or four times throughout the night. Only one bottle of whiskey was left at the end and about a case of wine. My shopping list was pretty accurate for 300 people for three hours.

Off the hook in Venice

Off the hook in Venice

On Saturday I will stay in the San Fernando Valley and bartend a birthday party in Reseda. On Monday I will bartend a cocktail party in Westwood, and then on Thursday I will spend Thanksgiving with my family. I had requests for bartending gigs on Thanksgiving, but I am sorry – I worked too many holidays when I worked in the restaurant industry. This Thanksgiving I will be with family.

Shaken Not Stirred Crew

Shaken Not Stirred Crew

 

Two Rancho Mirage Events

11 Oct
The desert in October

The desert in October

Shaken Not Stirred does events in Rancho Mirage and bartended two great parties this weekend.  On Thursday  I returned to Desert Periodontics  on Bob Hope Drive to help with a seminar for area dentists. This is the second time I have done events there, and am scheduled for another in December. Then on Saturday , I bartended a 30th birthday party at a private home in Rancho Mirage.

The corporate event at Desert Periodontics was typical for many corporate events I do.  I served beer, wine, soft drinks, and water. The guests usually drink one or two drinks. I am there to be of service, keep the area clean, and help serve food when needed. At this particular event they had a sit down dinner of 40 people and I helped with that. I will be returning in December to help with the company Christmas party.

Corporate event in Rancho Mirage

Corporate event in Rancho Mirage

I stayed in Palm Springs on Friday rather than drive back to LA. I stay at the Knight’s Inn in Palm Springs. The pictures online don’t make the place look very good, but it is really much nicer than the pictures.  It is reasonably priced and clean. The staff there is very nice and treat me great. I also get rewards points from the Wyndham Rewards Program. It is a very good program and covers several hotel chains. I highly recommend it.

On Saturday, I bartended a 30th birthday party at a Rancho Mirage home. There were about 40 guests in attendance, and the specialty drink was the Moscow mule. When I arrived, many of the guests were already there, so I had to set up on the fly. Once I got set up, it settled down and it was a very nice evening. The house had a sunken bar and guests sat at the bar like it was in a real bar or restaurant.

Shots!

Shots!

Today I am driving back toward LA, but am stopping in Diamond Bar to bartend a large wedding at the Diamond Bar Center. This is my second event at the Diamond Bar Center, and this is big one with 350 guests. I have two more bartenders joining me. Next weekend I have two events in Los Angeles, so I get to stay close to home.

Good friends in Rancho Mirage

Good friends in Rancho Mirage