Tag Archives: event

West Hollywood Book Signing Event at Book Soup

24 Jul
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Crowd waits for Adam Novak sighting…

Thursday night I returned to Book Soup in West Hollywood where I held my Los Angeles book signing – this time as a bartender for another writer. Book Soup is one of the few remaining independent bookstores in Los Angeles and they hold weekly book signing events and if you have never been there, it is a must see in LA. The writer, Adam Novak posted a bid request on Thumbtack for a bartender, and he mentioned in the request it would be held at Book Soup. I put in a bid and mentioned that I had also held a book signing there.

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Adam Novak warmly greets his fans

The writer, Adam Novak, called me and asked me if I was “Rob Neighbors, the screen writer”. He said that he worked in the story department at William Morris agency for years and he remembers my name coming through there on screenplays. I told him, that yes, I was said writer. Do I feel bad that I am now a lowly bartender, who once had a promising screenwriting career?  No, I may get another shot at that, but I made some big mistakes along the way that derailed everything. One thing about it, I have never been envious or jealous of other people’s success. If other writers have great success, it means that it is obtainable. I make money as a bartender now, but that doesn’t define me. It is an honest living. Thank God I wasn’t good at raising money for movies, as my friend was, who is now doing 13 years in a Federal pen.

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Adam Novak looking tough

Authors Who Have Done Book Signings at Book Soup

  • Adam Novak
  • Sonny “Bones” Donato
  • Howard Stern
  • Rob Neighbors
  • Ann Margret

Adam Novak was doing the reading and book signing for his newest novel, “Freaks of the Industry.” He gave me a signed copy, and he signed it, “Keep on Protecting and Serving,” referencing my movie, “LAPD – to Protect and Serve.” I can tell Adam has a tremendous memory and pays attention to detail. I gave him a signed copy of my book, “Palm Avenue.” He read passages of his new book at the event and he is hilarious. He is a very skilled wordsmith, and the structure of his novel is different than anything I have seen before. I have started reading it and I am laughing out loud at something on every page. The book I’m sure is full of thinly veiled references to actual people in the industry. Writers walk a tightrope when they do this – Truman Capote wrote a send up of all of his society pals, and they ended up casting him out. He subsequently died a miserable alcoholic death. Hemingway did it too and he ended up blowing his brains out with a 12 gauge.  

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Truman Copote dressed for winter

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Ernest Hemingway with Cat

Anyway, back to bartending. I brought another bartender with me, because Adam wasn’t quite sure how many people would show up. He had a good crowd and we served wine, beer, and soft drinks. I guess they almost sold out of books, which is the goal. Adam was great guy to work for and know. I love Book Soup as a venue and I hope to return there many more times, as a writer, and God forbid a bartender (jk).

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Author Adam Novak and Rob Neighbors

Agoura Hills Recreation Center Wedding

3 Oct
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Back view of the Agoura Hills Recreation Center

On Friday night Shaken Not Stirred visited the Agoura Hills Recreation Center to provide bartending service for a wedding reception. The newlyweds were married a week or two prior in a small ceremony, but they wanted to throw a party for their family and friends. The recreation center at Agoura Hills is a very new venue and is great for these types of events.

This wedding party had about 100 guests and I handled the crowd by myself. This is about the limit for one bartender. I once did a wedding of 160 people and that was the absolute limit. The guests just don’t get very good service when there is only one bartender and that many people. On Friday I think I handled 100 people pretty well, but it was intense at times, because there is no break and the people just keep coming in waves.

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Dining room at the Agoura Hills Rec Center

I served some easy cocktails that the bride and groom had decided on. I served completely out of vodka by the end of the night and served a lot of red and white wine. It is now the season that wine becomes more popular as the temps start to cool down. The weather was perfect on Friday for this party.

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Shots!

Agoura Recreation Center Event Space

  • Large seating capacity
  • Ample free parking
  • Large dance floor
  • Friendly staff and security
  • Nice hilltop views

The Agoura Hills Recreation Center is a great venue and I hope to return there again. I had a quick turnaround after the wedding party because I had to get up the next morning and drive to Indian Wells to bartend a daytime two day pool party.  Next weekend I have nothing scheduled, but will surely be going somewhere. The fun is in not knowing exactly where in Southern California I will end up.

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Shots 2!

Three Bartending Events Halloween Weekend

4 Nov
Lloyd the Bartender costume

Lloyd the Bartender costume

Shaken Not Stirred was contracted to bartend at three consecutive events last Halloween weekend. I usually write the blogs for my events on Monday morning, but was so exhausted after doing three events in a row, I am now writing the blog today on Wednesday. Friday night I bartended a Halloween costume party in Marina Del Rey, on Saturday I bartended a wedding in Northridge, and then on Sunday I bartended a birthday party in Silverlake.

For the costume party in Marina Del Rey, I broke out my Lloyd the bartender costume. The theme of the party was undead celebrities, and many of the guests really did it up. The host of the party dressed as Marilyn Monroe, and she looked uncannily like that statue that used to stand in downtown Palm Springs. I don’t know what happened to that statue, but it would be cool to make a movie where the statue of Marilyn Monroe goes berserk and terrorizes Palm Springs.

Undead guests at party

Undead guests at party

More undead patrons

More undead patrons

For the Costume party I made some specialty drinks that the host wanted used fresh ingredients. I can do craft cocktails that for smaller parties, but they become problematic at large weddings. Many of the guests didn’t get my costume, and I was surprised to learn that many of them (in their 20’s) had never seen the “Shining.”

On Saturday I bartended a wedding at the Rancho Cordillera Del Norte in Northridge that I had booked months ago.  My associate bartender Mia Martini helped. We served Margaritas, Micheladas, and Palomas to approximately 120 guests. La Fogata Catering provided the food, and they did an excellent job. Mole was on the menu, and I must say was excellent. Mrdraxx was the DJ and he kept the crowd moving all night long.

Bride and groom share first dance

Bride and groom share first dance

Mariachis at Halloween wedding

Mariachis at Halloween wedding

Shots!

Shots!

On Sunday, I traveled to Silverlake to bartend a birthday/retirement party. I was exhausted after doing to two other events, and didn’t really feel up to par. They didn’t have a lot of room for me to set up, so they set up a bar in the home office. I made a specialty drink, “Shady Pines,” which was named after the retirement home on the “Golden Girls.” The Shady Pines was basically a Vodka Mojito with muddled cucumber, and seemed to be a big hit. I was really dragging by the end of the party, but I helped clean up as much as I could, and for me that is how I got through it, rather than just sitting there like a lot of bartenders do.

View from Silverlake

View from Silverlake

This week I have a fundraiser to do in Oak Park on Thursday, and then a birthday party for a repeat customer in Lancaster on Saturday night, and then another party in Northridge on Sunday.  So another busy weekend for Shaken Not Stirred, and many more to come during the holiday season.

 

 

Have Portable Bar: Will Travel

19 Aug
The road to Hesperia

The road to Hesperia

My portable bar has been invaluable and has paid for itself many times over. Last Saturday night I took my portable bar all the way to Hesperia in the high desert of San Bernardino County. I bartended a birthday party and was pretty busy making drinks for approximately 100 guests.  I was a bit worried, because it was one of the hottest days of the summer, but once the sun went down it wasn’t so bad.

This event was booked by another bartender friend of mine and she wasn’t able to do it, so she called me. She and I will be doing several events together over the next couple of months. I was happy to take the event, though I don’t usually seek jobs in the Hesperia/Victorville area. I drove the back way in through Palmdale and across the desert. It is a very scenic drive, if you have never done it.  When I arrived in Hesperia the temperature was 104, and the wind felt like a blast furnace.

My portable bar is nothing special. It is what I can carry in my Mustang. It takes literally two minutes to set up, and then I have a folding table with a table cloth that I set next to the portable bar. I put all of the bottles and glassware on the table and I serve off of the portable bar. I have done all kinds of events with this portable bar set up, from Bellaire to Bakersfield and never once has somebody said, “What the hell is that? Get that thing out of here!” That is also why I only charge $35 for the bar.

Full banda playing

Full banda playing

I served many Bloody Mary’s, Micheladas, Margaritas, and Mai Tais. The guests self served their beers, which was fine with me, because 100 guests is a lot for one bartender. I handled it. Toward the end I was pouring a lot of shots. The host had purchased some special Jager Bomb shot glasses, and they worked great. I certainly made good use of them as I served a whole 1.75 ltr bottle of Jagermeister, and small case of Red Bull.

So far I don’t have an event scheduled for this weekend, and I hope I will still get one. Many people wait until the last minute, and also bartender drop out for one reason or another.  I have never cancelled an event, but I can see legitimate reasons for doing that. I have been on my way to events, and barely escaped serious accidents, thanks to reckless drivers.

Shots!

Shots!

Jager Bombs in special cups

Jager Bombs in special cups

I do have many events already booked in September and October, so I am not overly concerned about this little lull. I know the competition is getting tougher, and I will have to work as hard as I did in the beginning to keep the business going. I admit, I have been a little complacent lately. Shaken not Stirred:  Have portable bar, will travel.

Two Vegas Style Parties Back to Back

3 May
Outdoor bar at La Canada home

Outdoor bar at La Canada home

This was a busy weekend for Shaken Not Stirred – Friday night I bartended at a fundraiser/poker tournament at a private home in La Canada, and then on Saturday night was the hired mixologist at a Vegas themed birthday party in Porter Ranch. Two nights, two very fun and successful events.  The event industry is thriving in Los Angeles, and there are so many great services that make parties really spectacular.

The Friday night poker tournament in La Canada was hosted by one of my best client’s at his fantastic home.  Casinos in Motion had at least ten poker tables there and dealers. The money that was raised benefitted a private school. The tournament didn’t end until one am. We served completely out of Grey Goose, Patron, and Johnny Walker Black.

Saturday night, the party was a birthday party/fight night event. It was a joint 40th birthday party bash for the husband and wife who were hosting the party and it just happened to fall on the Mayweather/Paciao fight night. I must say, they did an excellent job preparing for this party. They had red carpets, velvet ropes, and elaborate lighting set up in the backyard overlooking the San Fernando Valley.  Aces N Eights provided the Blackjack Table and dealer for the event.

Blackjack table in Porter Ranch

Blackjack table in Porter Ranch

I was bartending by myself for approximately ninety guests and was very busy. I made my special Jalapeno Margaritas that were a big hit, Mai Tais, Moscow Mules, Dark and Stormys, and Lemon Drops.  I also served Stella Artois and Modelo Especial, prosseco, and wine. It seems that Modelo is becoming the most popular beer in LA, overtaking Corona. I think all the Mexican beers are made by the same company, and beer is one of Mexico’s number one export products.

Next weekend will be busy also, as I have a company party scheduled in Mission Viejo for Friday, and then a wedding reception in Santa Clarita the following night. I was bartending in my sleep last night I have poured so many drinks this week. I still have a couple of open dates later this month, which I’m sure I will fill quickly. It is the season for graduation parties, and I have seen  many inquiries for such parties this month.

Shots!

Shots!

Alhambra Surprise 40th Birthday Party

26 Apr

An ongoing drought in California

Guest bartender

Guest bartender

threatens the very existence of the state, yet on the day a woman schedules a surprise 40th birthday party for her husband, it rains cats and dogs. Well, that is an over exaggeration, rain messed things up for the surprise birthday party, but didn’t stop it. The host had tents set up in the backyard that kept most people dry. I had my own tent for the bar, and caterers had a tent.

The birthday boy had gone fishing and arrived home early because of the rain, so he wasn’t given the proper surprise cheer, but I saw his face as he realized they were having a party in his honor. I have said this before, but any man who has a surprise birthday party thrown for him is a lucky, and loved man. His wife had done extensive planning for this party, and hired a bartender (me), a DJ, and a caterer.

The caterer, Tacos Chicuas (213) 590-8209, provided tacos and quesadillas that were way above average.  I think their technique using a rotisserie cooker made the meat exceptionally tasty.  They had some incredible beans and a great selection of salsas. DJ Tossing T and MC JT provided the entertainment.  For a  surprise  40th birthday party, everything was top notch.

Tacos Chicuas with rotisserie cooker

Tacos Chicuas with rotisserie cooker

I served many pineapple based drinks, and the favorite of the night was the Buccanus, which was Buchannan Irish Whisky, pineapple juice, and grenadine, with a cherry garnish. This is the favorite of the birthday boy, and the trend caught on. I also served cucumber margaritas, and many Malibu and pineapples.

While I was bartending in Alhambra, I had another bartender doing at event at a television Studio in Glassel Park. He served beer and wine for about 100 people in the green room at a television production. I will go there again Thursday night. I have contracted with the production company to bartend at several of their tapings. Next Friday I will be bartending a fundraiser in La Canada, and then bartending at a party in Porter Ranch next Saturday night.

"You talkin' to me?"

“You talkin’ to me?”

Simi Valley Holiday / Birthday Party

23 Nov
Classy home bar in Simi

Classy home bar in Simi

Shaken Not Stirred opened the 2014 holiday season last night by bartending a holiday/birthday party in Simi Valley. The house where the party was held was fully decorated and in fact would probably win awards on Candy Cane Lane. The interior was very nicely decorated and they had the classiest home bar I have ever seen. The hostess was a former bartender and she stocked the bar to cover all bases.

I kept busy the entire night and it reminded me of working a busy bar at a hopping restaurant on a Saturday night. I made Cucumber martinis, dirty martinis, Lemon drops, Kamakazi shots, Margaritas, Pear Martinis, Gin Cosmos, and Bay Breezes.  Firestone 805 was the beer of the night and that seems to be quite popular at many parties now.

Viva La Pasta catered the event and they supplied a nice assortment of pasta, salads, bruchetta, and Italian cold cuts. The hosts had cleared the living room out and turned it into a dance floor. They had a fantastic stereo system and people were dancing the entire night, fueled by the ten bottles of vodka I served. Overall, I think fun was had by all.

Fire!

Fire!

How to Hire a Bartender for a Holiday Party

I have a few dates booked in December, but still have many open. Here are a few things to consider if you are planning a holiday party and need a bartender:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Book your party now, because every bartender in town will be booked up soon.
  • If you have a party on a Friday or Sunday, it might be less expensive and easier to book a bartender because most of the events are on Saturday.
  • Consult with your bartender about a shopping list and drink menu.
  • Check out sales on alcohol and non alcoholic beverages and start stocking up, so you don’t have to rush around at the last minute.

Next weekend I am traveling to San Diego to bartend an engagement party, and then the following weekend I have events booked in Studio City and Yorba Linda. I’m sure I will book some company Christmas parties on weekdays during December. I will work seven days a week during December if necessary.

 

Dead soldiers

Dead soldiers

Newberry Park 50th Birthday Luau

14 Jun

Friday night in Newberry Park in Ventura County was the scene of a man’s 50th birthday celebration and luau in honor of the occasion. The party was organized as a traditional luau and they roasted a pig, handed out leis,  played Hawaiian music and I as the bartender served Mai Tai’s and Blue Hawaiian’s. Everyone was dressed for the occasion, including me.

There are several recipes for Mai Tais. The recipe I used is what most bars use, and I think tastes the best. It is a pretty sweet drink, and deadly if you don’t watch out. The way I was making them last night creates a layered look – Bacardi White Rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, a dash of grenadine, and a Myer’s Rum floater. It seemed to be a hit, because we went through two 1.75 liter bottles of rum very quickly. The Blue Hawaiian was the second most popular drink, and I made Bay Breezes for the vodka drinkers.

I helped the host make a shopping list and was getting a little nervous as we started running out of things, but as it turned out we ran out of them just in time, because we were almost completely out of booze by the end of the party. We also served Long Board beer, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay. In the future, I think I will add more booze to shopping lists. The host seemed to be happy there was not much left over, but it would have not been good if we ran completely out of everything with an hour to go – which we would have if people had not slowed way down on their drinking. Every party is different that way.

The 5:15 Band

Guests mingle at Luau in Newberry Park

Guests mingle at Luau in Newberry Park

Salute to the Mai Tai!

Salute to the Mai Tai!

Hawaiian luau in Ventura County

Hawaiian luau in Ventura County

out of Orange County provided live entertainment. They are a very good cover band and did several Eagles songs very well, and many other classics. There was a whole segment of the party where the host’s friends and family members got up and talked about him and it was a very nice tribute for his 50th birthday. The man must have done a few things right in a half a century judging by heartfelt tributes from his best friends, coworkers, and family members. Certainly it must have been a memorable occasion in the host’s life.

Tonight, June 14th, is the first Saturday night in some time I have not had an event to do. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I have a graduation party in Orange County tomorrow and I guess the powers that be decided I was getting greedy trying to do three events in one weekend. Never the less, if you are reading this right now and need a mobile bartender last minute in Southern California – call me!

Santa Clarita Surprise Anniversary Party

1 Jun

Last night Shaken Not Stirred bartended and provided servers for a surprise 25th anniversary party at the Santa Clarita Activities Center. This was a very nice and fairy new venue and was a great place to have a party with plenty of parking. The daughter of the anniversary couple hired me and put on the whole elaborate surprise party. She created a whole story to get her parents to the location by making them believe they were going there to give a business presentation. The surprise worked perfectly as they walked into a room of 70 of their close friends and family members.

The food was brought in and my servers set it all up. I am lucky to have several good people who work for me on these occasions. Everybody I have does an incredible job and I am always complimented on the service of my employees. It is not brain surgery – I have been a part of hundred of events serving in nearly all of the capacities from server, to event planner, to manager. It doesn’t have to be a big, stressful deal for the hosts.

We served Cosmopolitans, Margaritas, and Jack Daniels at the bar, along with beer and wine. Entertainment was provided by “Dj Marvelous”, and he did the music and was also able to facilitate karaoke. The surprise guests of honor were very pleased and had a great time. I think everybody at the party did. It seemed to be a close knit group of family and friends and I think it was a memorable event for them celebrating an important milestone.

Santa Clarita Activities Center

Santa Clarita Activities Center

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Cirita bartending

DJ Marvelous heats up the dance floor

DJ Marvelous heats up the dance floor

Next month, in June, Shaken Not Stirred is booked every weekend including some Saturdays and Sundays. Next weekend I have a “Triple Crown” party booked in Pasadena on Saturday, and a Bar Mitzvah on Sunday where I will serve fake cocktails to 100 teenagers. That should be interesting! I now have a portable bar, a table, and several Martini glasses I can offer for any party.

Woodland Hills 50th Birthday Party

18 Apr

Last night was a rare occasion that I did a  party on a Thursday night – it was the host’s 50th birthday party and his office was closed the following day, Good Friday. A crowd of around fifty people arrived for the backyard event and even though it was Thursday, they partied like it was 1999. The host had set up a makeshift bar in his backyard using two folding tables with table clothes. This works just fine and saves people the expense of renting a bar. The tables just sit a little lower than a normal bar.  I have purchased a portable bar and can provide that for a minimal extra charge.

I consulted with the host about a drink menu and shopping list. He printed out a very nice list with all the wines and beers mentioned and the various drinks. He served some nice wines, including J Lohr Cabernet, and La Crema Chardonnay. Once again, the Cadillac Margarita was the big hit of the night. You just can’t go wrong with those, especially when you use a good tequila. The host was serving Gran Centenario Anejo tequila, which is a very good tequila and won’t break the bank. The tequila that I am also seeing a lot of now that is really good is Casadores Reposado. It is so much smoother than say, Cuervo gold. It really makes a big difference in the drinks.

I had a an assistant with me and she made drinks also. Whenever I bring an extra server, they are trained bartenders too, so they can jump in and help when needed. She made as many Cadillacs as I did. Taqueria El Tapatio

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My barback behind the makeshift bar

The crowd mingling

The crowd mingling

Shaken Not Stirred crew with incognito birthday boy

Shaken Not Stirred crew with incognito birthday boy

of Woodland Hills provided the catering, and they put out some pretty good tacos. Woodland Hills is my old stomping grounds and I have a lot of history in the San Fernando Valley, so it is always nice to go back there.  The host found Shaken Not Served through a Google search, which shows me that this blog is working.

I don’t have anything booked for this Saturday night, which will be the first times in months if I don’t get a last minute gig. Next week I have two events scheduled so far, a North Hollywood event at a local boxing gym very close to my house, and a wedding in Valencia that I am also providing two servers for. Next month, I have events scheduled in Torrance, Filmore, and Palos Verdes. I need more likes on my Facebook Page, and please follow us on Twitter.