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La Chureya Estate Wedding

11 Apr

Sharply dressed guests before ceremony

Last Saturday Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending service for the first time at the beautiful and historic La Chureya Estate close to downtown Palm Springs. Palm Springs is becoming one of the hottest places for destination weddings. For this particular wedding most of the guests traveled thousands of miles from Australia to be there.

Champagne station at entrance

I have worked at many fabulous venues throughout Southern California, and I must say La Chureya Estate is one of the most beautiful. The buildings are classic Spanish architecture and the grounds are immaculately groomed and landscaped. The bar area is next to the olympic sized pool, and that is where we pored drinks all night.

Pool area with bar on the other side

The wedding ceremony took place out on the lawn, which is was a perfect backdrop for great photography. We set up a champagne and water stand for the guests as they were arriving. We finished serving all of the arrivals and then moved back to the bar, when the ceremony ended quickly and we were hit with a big line. We served spicy jalapeno margaritas, Moscow Mules, and a variety of other drinks.

Bride takes a walk with father

La Chureya Estate Venue

  • Beautiful historic buildings and landscaping
  • Private location
  • Close to downtown Palm Springs
  • Ample space for vendors
  • Views of the mountains from grounds

Most of the guests at this wedding traveled all of the way from Australia and it was fun serving them. They were all dressed to the nines and I’m sure the photographer (also from Australia got some great pictures. There were 75 guests in attendance, and they kept my other bartender and I pretty busy. We completely served out of tequila and most of the vodka.

I will return to Palm Springs tomorrow to do a 200 guest corporate event. The Coachella Music Festival is going on this weekend and next and we have a few events going connected to that. I also have a “Leaving California,” party to do Saturday night in Corona on Saturday night. You may no how I feel about that – “You can check out, but you can never leave…” Please follow us on Instagram.

40th Birthday Party and Barbecue at Wesley Hotel

2 Apr

Shots!

Last weekend I traveled to Palm Springs to bartend a 40th birthday party at the boutique Wesley Hotel. The host had rented the entire hotel for the occasion and invited 40 of his friends to celebrate his wife’s birthday. The weather was perfect for a barbecue and pool party and I think everyone had a great time.

Wesley Hotel Party

The host wanted somebody to grill hamburgers and hotdogs, and I recruited one of my bartenders, Josh who lives out there to do it. I was a little worried about it, because even though I have grilled steaks for a group of 15 ladies at a bachelorette party, this was a much bigger affair. Josh pulled it off and did an excellent job.

Bartender and griller

I recommended a DJ who I had worked with before, Play It Again Socal, out of Riverside. The noise ordinances are very strict in Palm Springs, and I was sure that somebody would complain and the cops would shut the music down. Fortunately, that never happened, and I think it is because the Wesley Hotel is away from residential areas.

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Play it Again Socal

40th Birthday Party Ideas

  • Rent an entire hotel and invite your closest friends
  • Hire a bartender and griller
  • Have a DJ
  • Hire strippers!
  • Serve good drinks and food

One cop did show up though, but he turned out to be a male stripper. He had me fooled for a minute there. I served Pina Coladas, Spicy Jalapeno Margaritas, Cucumber Moscow Mules, and a bunch of shots and beers. Josh served all of the burgers there were and a ton of hotdogs.
I will be returning to Palm Springs again this weekend to bartend a wedding at the La Chureya Estate. Later on this month I have gigs in Brentwood, Corona, and sky Valley among others. Please follow us on Instagram.

10 Person 50th Birthday Party at Northridge Women’s Club

12 Mar

Banquet Hall before the party

Last Saturday Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending service for a multi-person 50th birthday party at the Northridge Women’s Club. Ten guys who went to high school together teamed up to have a big celebration of their mid century milestone, and invited 300 guests. My son helped me and we were busy the entire time. I didn’t get many good photos for that reason.

Portable Bar outside

Some of the guys who put on the party met with me months in advance to plan the event. I helped them make a shopping list and I guess I missed the mark, because we ran out of booze two hours before the party was over (we still had beer). The hosts went out and bought more vodka and tequila. Vodka is what usually runs out first if anything does.

50th Birthday Party in progress

Lorraine’s Catering of Sylmar did the food and it was excellent. I met Lorraine and her husband Joe at an event years ago and I have done many events for them, and they have referred me to many, as they did this one. I hope to return the favor. Lorraine and Joe and some of their kids showed up at 5pm, set up in the kitchen, served 200 people and were cleaned up and out of there by 8pm. That’s how efficient they are. The Northridge Women’s club has a large, well equipped kitchen, which makes it easy.

50th Birthday Party Ideas

  • Plan a multi person birthday party
  • Hire a bartender
  • Invite a diverse mix of people
  • Serve great food
  • Rent a hall

My son and I set up out portable bar outside, but it got cold and dark out there, so after the caterer left we moved into the kitchen, which also easily serves as a bar. We went through at least 15 cases of beer, and many handles of vodka and tequila. The security guard from the Northridge Women’s Club came and told us at 11pm that we would have to stop serving at 11:45pm sharp. Some kind of fight broke out outside at 11:15, so that ended the party prematurely. Unfortunately, there are usually one or two troublemakers at every event.
This week I will be bartending at a Residential center in Huntington Beach on Thursday, and then doing a cocktail party in Redondo Beach the next day. So far I am still open for Saturday night. Later this month I will be doing a wedding in Desert Hot Springs, and a pool party in Palm Springs. I’m hoping I will get to see the wildflower bloom in the desert. Please follow us on Instagram.

Bartenders Portrayed in Cinema

6 Mar
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Chuckles the Bartender

I watching an old episode of Gunsmoke with the sound turned off and I realized that bartenders are often not portrayed very well on film and television. In this particular episode of Gunsmoke the bartender was corrupt and dastardly – willing to sell information or favor to the highest bidder. In may of the old westerns the bartenders are that way. They are the guys who work for bad guys and will shoot a hero in the back with a shotgun as soon as he turns his back. The bartenders usually get mowed down in a hail of bullets before they can pull the trigger.

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Dawdling bartender gets his comeuppance

Bartenders in film noir are often portrayed as cynical, heartless, corrupt, or lazy. They sell information about their clients, or are surly and withhold important information from the good guys. Then, there are the womanizer bartenders, and the alcoholic creeps who get high on their own supply and facilitate affairs and sex trade. Bartenders in the outback or sleepy beach towns know all of the locals and are hostile to outsiders.

Famous Bartenders in Film

  • Eddy the Bartender (Frank Stallone in Barfly)
  • Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise in Cocktail)
  • Chuckles the Bartender (William Conrad in Dial 1119)
  • Dawdling bartender (Richard Halliday in Lonesome Dove)
  • Lloyd the Bartender (Joe Turkel in The Shining)

Frank Stallone played a bartender in the movie, Barfly who was a perfect example. He was a womanizer hothead, who was the nemesis of the Mickey Rourke protagonist.  Rourke, playing Henry Chinaski (the fictional Charles Bukowski), constantly goads the Stallone character, and in the end kicks his ass in a fight out behind the bar. The lowlife bartender gets his comeuppance again. There appears to be some serious animus toward bartenders in fiction.

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Frank Stallone as Eddy the Bartender

Don’t forget Lloyd the bartender, one of the most memorable bartenders in cinema history. Lloyd is an actual ghost in the movie, but reminds us of a lurking, sinister service employee with a heart of ice. Someone who observes everything and subtly encourages bad behavior. Someone who probably resents his customers so much he wishes them dead.

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Lloyd the Bartender

In film, bartenders are often the guys who will steal your wife and then plot to kill you for the insurance money. Bartenders are the racists who refuse service to ethnic characters of various races. Bartenders are the guys that will drop a dime on you for $50, or are dealing drugs and stealing from the till. Many people who watch films have had bad experiences with lazy, rude, and insolent bartenders, so it is not surprising they love seeing bartenders get their asses kicked or even killed in movies.

Two Weddings and a Brazilian Themed Birthday Party

17 Oct
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San Clemente State Beach

 

Last week Shaken Not Stirred provided bar catering for two big weddings and a Brazilian themed birthday party. Thursday I traveled to San Clemente to bartend a wedding at the Historic Cottage located at the San Clemente State Park. On Friday I bartended a birthday party with a Brazilian theme in the Venice Beach area, and then on Saturday drove to Palm Springs to provide bartending service at the Palm Springs air museum. It was a very successful week for Shaken Not Stirred.

The Historic Cottage

The Historic Cottage at the San Clemente State Park overlooks the ocean and is a fantastic venue for a wedding. This venue reminded me very much of The Pointe Vicente Interperative Center in Rancho Palos Verdes. The Historic Cottage only allows wine and beer service, and drink service stops at 10pm.

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Guests mingle during cocktail hour

For this wedding, the ceremony was held on the bluff overlooking the ocean, and then the guests came for the cocktail hour held in the front yard of the Historic Cottage. I had my portable bar setup there and a had a barback from Orange County helping me there. We served approximately 150 guests. After the cocktail hour, the guests moved to the backyard area of the cottage for dinner and dancing.

Brazilian Themed Birthday Party

A chef that I know, Ella Freyinger, referred me to bartend for one of her friend’s birthday party. The client and her husband were very British, but they wanted to do a Brazilian themed birthday party. I would be serving Caipirinhas, the Brazilian cocktails and they would be serving food popular in Brazil. Caipirinhas are made with Brazilian cane liquor, Cachaca, brown sugar, and lime. They are somewhat labor intensive drinks that require much muddling, so I kept busy making them for four hours for 30 guests.

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Cachaca and Brazilian soda

 

At first, I didn’t think the guests liked them, because they were drinking them slowly, but that changed quickly. Guests brought more bottles of different brands of Cachaca, and I was making drinks with at least four different brands, including Pitu, Cachaca 51, Novo Fogo, and Avua. The owner of the Avua brand was actually at the party, and provided a lot of insight about the various types. I must mention that Caipirinhas are deadly drinks that go down smooth, but can bite like a rattlesnake.

Palm Springs Air Museum

I have done weddings and parties at venues all over the Coachella Valley, but this was my first wedding at the Palm Springs Air Museum. It is a truly fantastic museum located in a hangar at the Palm Springs airport. It is full of vintage planes and displays, which I didn’t really have time to look out because I had to hustle and prepare for a 230 guest wedding party. I had another bartender and barback there to help me. Unlike many wedding parties I do the ceremony for this one was done somewhere else, so the guests trickled in, rather than arriving in a line all at once. It can be daunting to serve a line a 230 people.

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Myself, barback Teresa, and bartender Thomas

We served margaritas, and mojitos, and various other drinks. The highlight is when they opened the hangar door and we could see a dramatic sunset over the mountains of Palm Springs, as well as vintage planes outside the hangar and commercial jets taking off nearby. It was a great event and hope to return there soon.

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Shots!

 

Shaken Not Stirred Provides Bar Catering for Two September Weddings

14 Sep
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Picturesque, but hot!

 

Last weekend Shaken Not Stirred provided bar catering service for two fantastic weddings. Weddings like these take months of planning, and many different vendors are involved, including the wedding coordinator, the caterer, the bartending service, the DJ, insurance companies, the photographer, the florist, and the venue. I am happy to be part of that process, and spend much time writing emails back and forth, and on the phone with grooms, brides, and wedding planners. It is also always nice to see a wedding executed as planned.

When I arrived in Indio at the Desert Ridge Estate, I got out of my car and was surprised how blazing hot it was. I had done a wedding in Joshua Tree the weekend before and it was a pleasant 90F. I had not checked the weather report, and it was a sweltering 116F in Indio. The bar was set up outside in the direct sunlight. The DJ was rolling with sweat as he set up his equipment. I wondered how I was going to make it with several hours of sunlight left.

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The sun finally goes down

The guests and wedding party were just as shocked by the high temperatures. Almost all of the guests were from Canada and not used to such extreme hot weather. Well, we got through it somehow, and I have never been so happy to see the sun go down. I served one signature drink, a prohibition era cocktail called Bee’s Knees, and it is made with gin, lemon juice, and honey. The drink was a hit and I served completely out of it.

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Shots!

Bar Catering Tips

  • Hire a licensed bar caterer
  • Let the bar caterer make you a shopping list
  • Choose specialty drinks that can be served quickly
  • Hire more than one bartender for weddings over 100
  • Always make sure to buy plenty of ice

The next morning, I got up and prepared to drive from Indio to Palmdale for the second wedding of the weekend. The heat from the day before had taken a lot of out of me and I was dragging. I drove up the 15 and took the back road to Palmdale across the high desert. It is a scenic drive, and I was feeling much better by the time I arrived in Palmdale.

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Man and wife take their first walk together

The wedding was held at Hacienda Reyes, a very nice venue in the hills above Palmdale. I set up my portable bar in a small gazebo on the property. The weather was much nicer than the day before – a chilly 92F. I made simple drinks and served beer to approximately 75 guests. I think everyone was happy.

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Shots!

This weekend I will be returning to the Desert to the Cree Estate to do another wedding, then I have a Mimosa and Bloody Mary bar in the morning at Rancho Palos Verdes, and then that afternoon I am doing bar catering for a wedding reception in Irvine. Please follow us on Instagram.

Event Bartender Marathon Week: Seven Events, Three Counties

5 Sep

Event Bartender company, Shaken Not Stirred had a record week leading into Labor Day, completing seven big events in three Southern California Counties. I myself worked six of the events and I sent another bartender to do another one for a repeat customer.

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Max Joseph at Catfish going away party

Wednesday:

I drove to Burbank to do a very special event for a television production company. The show, “Catfish,” on MTV has had seven successful seasons, but one of the show’s top hosts is moving on to other endeavors, so it was a going away party for him. I made margaritas and served beer and wine, while the cast and crew watched the final episode with Max Joseph. I avoided a near disaster when I noticed my table with several bottles on it was about to collapse. I caught it just in time and a caterer walking by helped me. It would have been a major disaster if that table collapsed right during the screening. Needless to say, that table is being retired.

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Groom and groomsmen at Ruby Street

Thursday:

I drove to a funky little venue in Highland Park called 6408 Ruby Street to bartend a wedding. The Ruby Street venue is a former church and a historic building in Los Angeles. I had a trainee meet me there and she was a lot of help. We served two different specialty drinks, and beer and wine to the guests. We don’t get many weddings on Thursdays, but we welcome them. On the same night I sent another event bartender, Melanie, to do a corporate event in West Hollywood.

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70th Birthday Party in Orange County

Friday:

I drove to Orange County, to Lake Forest to bartend a 70th birthday party. It was held at a very nice community clubhouse, and I set up my portable bar outside. The weather was perfect and there was a cool breeze blowing. They had a live band and friends and family members poured in. When it comes to a 70th birthday party, many of the people have been friends for decades. Everyone had a nice time. I stayed a hotel in Irvine because I had to be in Joshua Tree the next day for another wedding.

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Groom watching Bride dance with Father

Saturday:

I drove from Orange County to Joshua Tree to do a wedding at a cool little venue called the Mohave Sands Motel – it was my second time there. Another event bartender, actually named Joshua lives out there and he helped me. Once again, the weather was perfect and we served approximately 75 guests throughout the evening. I got up the next morning and had to drive back to North Hollywood to do a Quinceanera. There was a bad accident on the 10 Freeway, and the trip took me four hours.

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Quinceanera at Memories Banquet Hall

Sunday:

I met another bartender who works for me, Edie, at the Memories Banquet Hall in North Hollywood to bartend the Quinceanera. There were over 100 guests. We served Palomas and other classic drinks until midnight. Luckily, the venue was only minutes from my home. I had served hundreds of drinks by this point.

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Volunteer shot girl at pool party on Mulholland Drive

Monday, Labor Day:

My final event of the holiday weekend was held at a rental house on Mulholland Drive overlooking the San Fernando Valley.  An online company was having a Labor Day pool party for their influencers and investors. I set up my portable bar by the pool and served drinks throughout the afternoon and evening. Once again, the weather was perfect. This is my favorite time of the year. I finished at 9 pm and my event bartender marathon was a complete, and I think a total success. This coming weekend I have events in Indio, Hawthorne, and Venice Beach. Follow us on Instagram.