Tag Archives: Fourth of July

Rolling Hills Fourth of July Party

5 Jul
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My first customers at the bar

Yesterday I bartended a Fourth of July party in Rolling Hills on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I was excited to do this party because the host told me they had a great view of the whole Long Beach and San Pedro area from their backyard and could see several fireworks shows from there. I love Independence Day – it is my favorite holiday, and I love fireworks, and I love bartending.

I got this job from another job I did last month in Rolling Hills. There is nothing better than getting a referral, or getting a job from handing out a business card. That is the best kind of business for me, because I have to pay for leads and advertising for everything else. I had to start my business from scratch, and now after four years, I am getting a lot of repeat business and referrals.

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Me at Bukowski’s grave

I got down to area early and had some time to kill. I was right by the Green Hills Cemetery and I remembered that Charles Bukowski,one of my favorite writers is buried there. People often visit his grave and pour bottles of beer and whiskey into the ground as a tribute. I figured it shouldn’t be too hard to find the gravesite. I walked into the cemetery and quickly realized it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. I saw a cemetery employee driving a golf cart and I stopped her and asked he where the grave site was. She was kind enough to drive me right to it. It had some beer bottles on it and cigarettes. I was unprepared and had nothing to offer. I hope I am not jinxed!

The party went very well and I served Mojitos. Old Fashioneds, beer, and wine to approximately 50 guests. It was a very nice relaxed party with a great group of people. When the sun went down the fireworks started and they lit up the whole harbor area and Southbay. I think that this year there were way more “illegal” fireworks than I have ever seen before. Even as I was driving home on the 405 they were lighting up the sky at midnight. I love it – allow us our freedom once a year!

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Guests enjoying great food and view of Harbor area

Friday I am bartending a wedding in San Diego, and then on Sunday I am doing a wedding at an exotic animal ranch in Sylmar. On Monday I leave for Montana and Wyoming for a week. The summer will be gone before we know it.

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Chino Sweet 16 Party and Channel Islands 70th Birthday Party

3 Jul
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Tables set up in Chino for Sweet 16 Party

Shaken Not Stirred traveled all over Southern California last weekend and provided bartending service for two important milestone birthdays. On Friday I drove to Chino to bartend for a sweet 16 birthday party, and then on Saturday I drove the opposite direction to bartend a 70th birthday party at Channel Islands Harbor. I had another bartender do an event in Villa Park as well. It was the start of the Fourth of July weekend and traffic in Socal was a bear.

The host in Chino rented tables and chairs and set up for over 100 people in the backyard of his home. I served alcoholic beverages to approximately 40 guests, and there were about 60 minors who I served soft drinks to. Johnny Walker Black was the number one drink of choice, and the thing about that is people either drink it on the rocks, or with soda. No fancy mixology involved.

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Adults mingle at Sweet 16 Party

The hosts and all of the guests were of Indian heritage and the food served was 100 percent vegetarian. Raul’s Catering of Rialto provided the tacos and burritos and he told me that he specializes in vegetarian food for Indian themed parties. I am not a vegetarian myself, and am reluctant to try vegetarian food, but Raul’s vegetarian chorizo burritos were spicy and excellent. Had he not told me they were vegetarian, I would not have known.

It took me over two hours to drive to Chino, and an hour to drive home. On Saturday, it took two hours to drive to Oxnard as well. Fourth of July weekend is a terrible time to drive anywhere in Southern California. I always leave way early. The party at Channel Islands Harbor was originally going to have 80 guests, and then two weeks before the event, the host bumped it t0 150 guests. I needed to hire an extra bartender, but could not find anyone last minute in Los Angeles, so I turned to Craigslist.

I have had mixed luck hiring people on Craigslist in the past. I usually ask for a picture and resume. I want to see if the people look presentable. I got a few responses, but most of the people can barely write a legible response. They write things like, sup, how much in tips will I make, and they don’t include a picture. One guy wrote a very intelligent response and included a picture, so I hired him over the phone.

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Channel Islands Harbor

On the day of the event, I texted the guy in the morning to confirm he would be there. He responded yes, so I felt I had nothing to worry about. I got to the location at the harbor and started setting up and one half hour before the bar back was supposed to be there, I got a text from him saying he was being pulled over by the police and that he had warrants and was probably going to be arrested. I had to scramble to find somebody else. I asked one of the servers there if she knew anybody and she did! Her brother could do it.

I started serving the guests at 4pm and the replacement barback showed up just in time at 5pm. We did not stop serving drinks for six hours straight. I must have made 600 drinks myself, and thank God the other guy showed up to help me. The party was to celebrate the 70th bithday party of a very revered man and former fire captain of Oxnard, and many of the guests were firemen that worked for him. It was a great event and they had a live band and Polynesian dancers for entertainment, but I was too busy making drinks to even pay attention.

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Guests having a ball at 70th Birthday Party

Tomorrow is Independence Day and I am bartending a party in Rolling Hills, at a home that has excellent views of the San Pedro fireworks show, and the Long Beach fireworks, so I am looking forward to that. Friday I am going to San Diego to do a wedding, and then on Saturday I am doing a wedding at an exotic animal ranch in Sylmar. Please follow me on Instagram.

 

Palmdale Rehearsal Dinner

22 Jun
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Tent setup in driveway for Palmdale Rehearsal Dinner

Last Saturday I drove to Palmdale to bartend a wedding rehearsal dinner at a private home. It was one of the first hot days of the summer and the temp was 104 when I arrived. The host had tents setup in the yard and driveway. There was a tent for me, another for the DJ, and a big tent for the guests.

My mom was in town visiting, so I asked the host if I could bring her along, and she helped out. I served margaritas, beer, and wine to approximately 70 guests. I used my drink dispenser and premixed margaritas – that makes service faster when I am working large events by myself. My mom helped serve beer, and wine and she helped cut the cake.

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DJ Bryan K in Palmdale

The DJ Bryan K setup in his own tent and spun tunes throughout the night. He just moved here from Maryland and quizzed me on how to get jobs in the LA area. I was happy to help him and I am always happy to help other event professionals, including caterers and photographers get more jobs. I get jobs from caterers I have worked with in the past, and I want to return the favor. The idea is to get a whole network of event vendors working together and helping each other out.

Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

  • Do it in your backyard
  • Hire a bartender
  • Provide some form of entertainment
  • Invite people who can’t attend wedding
  • Serve great food

The host did the food herself for this rehearsal dinner. She got a fried chicken, potato salad and other fixins from the local grocery store. Everybody was just fine with that. A rehearsal dinner doesn’t have to be fancy. The host told me that this party was mainly for the people who could not attend the actual wedding that will take place in a different location later this summer. Most of the people were family members and everybody seemed to get along well.

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My mom helps me bartend in Palmdale

This weekend I have three events. Tomorrow I will bartend a cocktail party in Pacific Palisades. Saturday I am doing a backyard wedding south of downtown LA. On Sunday I am driving out to Mentone, past Redlands to bartend a baby shower. I have many events already booked in July, including Fourth of July parties, a wedding in San Diego, and many other events throughout the month.

Executive Retreat & 2 4th of July Parties

5 Jul
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Executive Retreat in Palm Desert

Fourth of July weekend was busy for Shaken Not Stirred as I put over 500 miles on my car and bartended an executive retreat in Palm Desert and two July Fourth parties in Orange County. The Fourth of July fell on a Monday this year, so many people celebrated on Saturday instead, and I provided bartending services for a fantastic second of July party in Villa Park. Then on the actual Fourth of July, I returned to Lake Forest in Orange County to bartend a daytime party before the fireworks started.

The executive retreat in Palm Desert was arranged for members of a law firm from Vancouver, Canada. It was very hot in the desert that day and was 105 in the shade. I made a variety of blended drinks, as well as some mojitos. The heat was oppressive and when I got back to my hotel the swimming pool was as hot as bath water and it took my hotel room three hours to cool down. Usually the desert slows down during the summer, but their seemed to be a lot of people in Palm Springs.

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The Statue of Liberty visits Villa Park

The next day I drove directly to Villa Park in Orange County to bartend the Second of July party. This was my third time working for these clients, and they have a fantastic back yard, pool and bar. They throw great parties and this time they had the whole front and backyard decorated for the Fourth of July. They had a mock Independence Hall, a Statue of Liberty, and many other great party props provided by RWB Party Props of Anaheim. Spectacular Catering of Irvine provided the food and they did a spectacular job. I was busy the entire time making drinks for 100 people. We went through two kegs of beer, and lots of vodka and tequila.

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Fantastic back yard bar in Villa Park

Executive Retreat in the Desert

  • Hire a bartender
  • Create a theme
  • Great resort rentals
  • Team building

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    Magician, Georges Robert at Lake Forest party

On Monday I returned to Orange County to a home in Lake Forest to bartend the Fourth of July party. This was a unique party and I have never heard of anybody doing it before. The host invited the entire staff of his favorite restaurant, Javier’s to a pool party at his house. This was such a nice gesture, and he even brought in a taco cart provided by Tacos Zapata, and magician, Georges Robert. The magician was fantastic, a real entertainer and the guests were enthralled. No doubt the host will be a VIP at Javier’s for years to come.

Next weekend I will traveling to San Diego to bartend a company party. Later this month I will be doing a wedding in Solvang, a wedding at the Diamond Bar Center, and hopefully one in Thousand Oaks.  

Owl Creek Farm Wedding

27 Jun
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My bar setup with rustic barn in the background

On Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending service for a wedding at the Owl Creek Farm south of Hemet. This was my first time working at the venue, and I hope to go back there again. I talked to the manager, Tommy, and he said that they do weddings there every weekend. The Owl Creek Farm is very rustic and is basically in the middle of nowhere, so you don’t have to worry about making too much noise.

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Unique photo ops at Owl Creek Farm

The bride booked me over a year ago. I normally don’t try to get events that far in advance, but I bid on the wedding thinking it was in 2015, but it was actually 2016. So we had been emailing back and forth for a long time planning this wedding. When the event date finally approached, I was nervous, thinking that I was going to forget something important. Everything worked out just fine.

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Rockabilly theme at Owl Creek Farm wedding

The bride wanted a Blood Orange Mojito as the signature drink. She gave me the recipe and I stuck to it. Mojitos are labor intensive to make for large crowds, but I know how to make large batches of them. That is what I did here, and I premade a few during the wedding ceremony, so that people could just grab them as soon as the ceremony was over. The bride and the groom made home brews for the wedding. They had four different kinds, and their IPA kept exploding when you opened them. I guess that is something to think about when working with home brews in the bottle.

Events at Owl Creek Farm

  • Rustic setting
  • Great privacy
  • Plenty of parking
  • Great photo backdrops
  • Hire a bartender

The DJ was a very nice guy and he was also hired over one year prior. He was out of Temecula and also has a classic rock cover band. You can contact him at highland-flashoverband.com. The wedding had a Rockabilly theme and all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen were dressed accordingly, as were many of the guests.  

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Shots!

This coming weekend I will travel to Palm Springs to bartend a pool party, and then a Second of July party in Orange County, and am negotiations to do  third of July and Fourth of July parties. I am also negotiating to do a large wedding in Solvang later in July, and have found a company to buy one day event insurance from, so I hope that works out.

Mission Beach Women’s Club Wedding

20 Jun
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Sign created by the bride

Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred traveled to San Diego to provide bartending services at a wedding at the Mission Beach Women’s Club. This was my first time working at this venue, and I hope to return there many more times. What a fantastic spot to have a wedding and reception. The scenery is great, the vibe is happening, and I just had an overall nice experience.

The hardest part of working this venue was getting in and out of there. Summer is here and it’s starting to get hot. Everyone in Southern California heads to the beach. The bars and restaurants are full of people, parking is hard to find and traffic is a nightmare. I arrived plenty early and the hosts even saved me my own parking spot at the venue. I had plenty of time to set up my portable bar, outside on the patio next to the bike path.

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Dad escorts bride at Mission Beach Women’s Club

Mission Beach Women’s Club Venue

  • Views of the Mission Bay
  • Cooler weather
  • Relaxed atmosphere
  • Patio reception area
  • Indoor dining room and dance floor

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    Wedding with scenic backdrop

The wedding was held on the grass just across from the venue with Mission Bay in the background. This makes for some great photography. They set up chairs and a wedding arch, everyone sat down and the ceremony was over in less than half an hour. The chairs and wedding arch rapidly disappeared and the party started.

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Shots!

I made simple drinks like Captain and Coke, Jack and Coke, Sea Breezes, and Moscow Mules. Fireball shots were popular. I was worried we were going to run out of a few things, and we did, but the guests adjusted. Bekker’s Catering of San Diego provided the food, and they did an excellent job.

I will be bartending a cocktail party in Beverly Hills on Thursday, and then doing a wedding in Hemet, which I booked over a year ago. The big Fourth of July weekend is coming up and I will be busy in Palm Springs and Orange County.

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.