Tag Archives: graduation party

Reptacular Ranch Wedding and 50th Birthday Cocktail Party

19 Jun
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Tequila shots at cocktail party

Shaken Not Stirred provided bar service for two big events last week – a 50th birthday cocktail party, and a wedding at the Reptacular Ranch.  On Friday I went to the Carthay Circle neighborhood of Los Angeles, which is south of Hollywood and bartended for a two hour cocktail party to celebrate the host’s 50th birthday. Then, on Saturday, I drove up into the mountains above Sylmar to the Reptacular Ranch to bartend a wedding (my second time at the venue).

I always like doing intimate cocktail parties and the hosts and guests usually like having me. The hosts like having a bartender because they can enjoy themselves and not have to make the drinks. The guests like it because they can get a variety of professionally made drinks. For this party I set up my portable bar in the kitchen and served drinks to five couple before they departed for a nice dinner in West Hollywood.

 

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Salud!

I served Moscow Mules, Margaritas, and Lemon Drops made with fresh lemons from my backyard lemon tree. Unfortunately, I think I used the last of the good lemons from the tree, and most that are left are over ripe. I created a new Elderberry Lemon drop using a dash of St. Germain, agave nectar, and fresh lemon juice, with a sugar rim. The guests had a couple of cocktails and left for dinner. Everyone was happy.

Reptacular Ranch Weddings

  • Petting zoo with exotic animals
  • Rustic secluded location
  • Bar with refrigerators
  • “Honey Wagon” style restrooms
  • Beautiful area for ceremony

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    Reptacular Ranch Ceremony

Saturday was my second time working at the Reptacular Ranch. The first time was back in August and it was literally 110 degrees up there. All the ice melted within 2 hours, and I had to drive down to Sylmar and pick up more. They have since made improvements and have refrigerators and a ice cooler near their newly renovated bar area. They also have a very nice new area with seating for ceremonies. For this wedding, the groom works for an ice company, and the weather was unseasonably cool, so we did not have to worry about ice.

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Bar area at Reptacular Ranch

This coming week I have a cocktail party in Los Angeles on Friday night, a Summer Solstice party in Studio City on Saturday night, and then a birthday party in Beverly Hills, and a graduation party in Seal Beach on Sunday. That’s is the kind of week I like. Please follow us on Instagram.  

 

Rolling Hills Estates High School Graduation Party

13 Jun
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Scenic Rolling Hills Estates

Last Saturday I drove to the South Bay to bartend a high school graduation party in scenic Rolling Hills Estates. Of course, high school graduates are not yet of drinking age, but I served the graduates soft drinks, and mixed harder stuff for their parents and older siblings. The party took place at a very nice property, with a well stocked home bar.

I made Old Fashioneds, Dry Martinis, Margaritas, and Mojitos for approximately sixty guests. This was a much different party than the one I attended when I graduated high school. Ours was in a garage and we had a keg of beer and we all got really drunk. That was a different time and place over thirty years ago. These high school graduates are going off the universities like Tulane, and USC next year.

The host makes his own wine from grapes he grows himself on his property. I forget the name of the grape he uses, but I had never heard of it before. I decanted a couple of bottles and the guests loved it. He even has his own stylish labels on the bottles. He also makes Grappa, and limoncello.

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Home made wine from Rolling Hills

Graduation Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartender
  • Choose a theme
  • Serve great food
  • Invite the parents
  • Play great music

The party went on until midnight and they had a dance floor setup in the living room. It was a very nice graduation party, and I’m sure the graduates will always have fond memories of it. I met some good people who took my card and I hope they will call me for future jobs. I have a long history in the South Bay and I always enjoying back there.

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Home bar at Rolling Hills

Tomorrow I am doing a junior high graduation party in Encino. I will make virgin drinks for approximately 40 kids. I have done a few non alcoholic events. This coming Saturday I will drive out the Palmdale to bartend a wedding rehearsal party. I have other events later this month in Los Angeles and in Oxnard. Follow Shaken Not Stirred on Instagram if you haven’t done so already.

A Bunch of Events, New Orleans, and Fractured Ribs

27 May
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Famous Maple Leaf Bar, New Orleans

Today is the first day I have felt like sitting at a desk and writing since returning from my trip from New Orleans and recovering from fractured ribs. I visited New Orleans for the first time last week and had an accident falling out of the hotel shower where I fractured my ribs. I returned to LA and have been laid up in severe pain this entire week – I finally feel much better today, but am not 100 percent. Shaken Not Stirred was very busy the week before I left on my trip, and I have even done a couple events since I’ve been back and haven’t written about any of them on this blog.

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Interior, Maple Leaf Bar

The week before I left on my trip I did five big events. I bartended an alumni event in Burbank, did a bris celebration in Studio City, traveled to Indian Wells to bartend a rehearsal dinner for Goodfella’s Tacos, drove back to Castaic to bartend a graduation party, and then on Sunday bartended a Mother’s Day party in Woodland Hills. I left for New Orleans the next morning. That was one of my busiest weeks since I started the company.

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Alumni event, Burbank

I went to New Orleans to attend the wedding of my friend, Jason Ricci. He is one of the best harmonica players in the world today. My accident happened on the day before the wedding. I was able to attend the wedding ceremony, but was in so much pain, had to leave shortly after and missed the big jam session at the famous Maple Leaf Bar where the wedding party was held. I was very disappointed about that. Despite my accident, I loved the city and people of New Orleans, and will return for sure. The food is incredible, and we Yankees could all learn a thing or two about Southern hospitality.

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Indian Wells Rehearsal Dinner 

The flight back was excruciating with broken ribs, and had not the nice lady sitting next to me given me a Vicodin, I can imagine the plane having to land in Nashville or somewhere because I was moaning so much. I returned on Thursday and had two upcoming gigs on Saturday and Sunday that I had no idea how I was going to complete. I could not bend down, turn my body, or lift anything above four pounds without wincing in pain.

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Mariachis perform at Castaic graduation party

I called some other bartenders and tried to get somebody to take my gigs, but could not find anybody on short notice. I decided to get a friend to help me and I could sit on a stool and mix drinks. I will never cancel a gig I have taken a deposit for, and will to the best of my ability get the job done. My friend drove me to Fontana and we got the job done and I bartended a birthday party for 60 people. It was painful, but not as bad as I thought it would be.

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Shots!

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Irvine Graduation Party 

The next day we turned around and drove to Irvine to bartend a graduation party of 100 people. Once again, we got the job done, and I couldn’t have done it without my friend, Steve, who had no previous bartending experience. While we were doing that gig, I had three other bartenders doing a fundraiser event in Beverly Hills, which came off very well I have heard.

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Guests enjoy cigars at Fontana birthday party

I spend all of last week laying around letter my ribs heal. I went to the doctor and got xrays and at least three ribs are fractured. I have several events already scheduled for this month, but am not taking on any new ones until I am completely healed. Tonight I am bartending a birthday party in Santa Monica, and my friend is coming along to help me. Next week I am doing a birthday party close to home in Van Nuys. Hopefully, by next month I will be fully recovered and ready to roll for the summer party and wedding season.

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Injured bartender in Fontana

Perris, California Wedding Party

15 May
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Amazing property in Perris, California

Shaken Not Stirred traveled all the way to Perris, California to bartend a wedding party on Saturday. This wedding was held at a house hidden high in the hills of Riverside County, miles away from any Starbucks or In and Out. If you are holding a party out there, you had better not forget to bring anything, because you will travel twenty miles of winding roads to get a bag of ice. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.

It was a perfect Southern California day for a wedding – the weather was perfect, not too hot, and clear skies with a gentle breeze. 100 guests blew in to celebrate this wedding, which happened early at 3pm, and then the festivities began. Some friends of the family provided the catering and I provided bartending service. I kept pretty busy pouring vodka drinks and margaritas. Fireball and Patron were the shots of choice.

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Guests socialize at wedding party

Wedding Party Traditions

  • Hire a bartender
  • Bride and groom’s first dance
  • Tossing of the garter and bouquet
  • Celebratory shots!

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    Family portrait

The property was really quite amazing and the couple that owned it were in attendance. The man was a ship captain from England and had retired and built the rancho in Perris from scratch. The place was big enough to hold a party for 300 people and he said he had parties like that. I may bartend for him again when he throws a going away party in a few weeks. He has sold the house and is moving to Argentina.

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Shots!

I had two other bartenders doing graduation parties in Chino Hills, and Castaic as I was doing the one in Perris. I haven’t heard from the clients, but according to the bartenders the other parties went well. Maybe I should hire some “secret shoppers” to check up on those bartenders!

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More shots!

Today, I am bartending a baptism party in Granada Hills. Next weekend I will travel to Palm Springs to bartend a bachelorette party in the daytime and formal cocktail party at night. I will have two other bartenders doing a large baptism party in La Canada.   

Burbank Graduation Party

9 May
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Guests socializing at Burbank graduation party

Saturday night Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending service for a graduation party in Burbank. The guest of honor certainly deserved a graduation party because she graduated at the very top of her class and completed nursing school at a four year university. I know from friends of mine that have attended nursing school that it is a grueling program, and not everyone makes it, let alone graduates at the top of their class. I salute her, and am sure she will have a very promising career.

This year the demand for graduation parties has increased dramatically. I have had so many calls for graduation party bartenders that I have had to turn down many of them. Next weekend I have two bartenders going out to bartend two different graduation parties, while I will be bartending a wedding in Perris. Next month there are several graduation parties as well.

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Family and friends at graduation party

Graduation Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartender
  • Hire a caterer
  • Rent tables and chairs for backyard
  • Hire a DJ

The Burbank graduation party took place in the backyard of an uncle. The grandparents had emigrated from Cuba just after the revolution. I always like talking to Cuban immigrants because they know the devastation that Communism causes. I know this is not a political blog, but I am extremely anti-socialist/communist. I got that from my ex wife who was from Chile. She told me what happened when a socialist, Salvador Allende was elected as president of her country and was a puppet of the communists in Cuba and the Soviet Union. In two years, the economy was destroyed, all in the name of “redistribution”. Now, people in this country think socialism is the way to go here. How ignorant of them. I will probably lose business over this, but I don’t care. It burns me up anytime I see someone wearing a Che Guevara shirt. They have no idea who he really was – a mass murderer.

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Pisses me off when I see people glorifying this culito!

Anyway, back to the party. I served margaritas and vodka drinks. We served completely out of beer and they had to go get more tequila. The guests came to party. I set up my portable bar in the back yard, the taco man from Paulina’s Catering set up right next to me. I always enjoy watching the catering people do their job. He was very efficient and made it look easy serving 60 people.

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Preparing tacos for Burbank Graduation party

Next weekend I am headed to Perris in Riverside County to bartend a wedding, while my other bartenders are doing graduation parties in Castaic and Chino Hills. Later this month will be in Palm Springs for a bachelorette party and a cocktail party later that night. Then, I will close out the month for a wedding in downtown LA.

Agoura Hills 40th Birthday Party

29 Mar
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Agoura Hills neighborhood

On Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred traveled to Agoura Hills to bartend a 40th birthday party and casino night. The host had really done the house up right for the event and they had two blackjack tables, a craps table and Texas Hold em’ poker. They really had the house set up like an illicit private casino. This was all in fun, of course, because the guests weren’t gambling for real money.

The home at a built in bar, that the host said they never used. I made myself at home behind the bar and I served Moscow Mules, Kentucky Mules, Lemon Drops, and Cosmos. There were over fifty guests and I kept pretty busy for awhile. The guests were having a great time at the tables, and when I could I went around Vegas style to tables taking drink orders.

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Blackjack table

40th Birthday Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartender
  • Casino games
  • Plan a drink menu
  • Choose a theme

The food provided for this 40th birthday party was traditional middle eastern cuisine, including shish kabobs, hummus and other favorites. I did not get the name of the caterer. California Casino Company of Thousand Oaks provided the dealers and casino tables. Pandora, I believe provided the music. Of course, all casino nights usually include music from the Rat Pack, including classics by Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Dean Martin. I was thinking that these songs, like “All or Nothing at All,” “I’ve Got You Under my Skin,” have been recycled thousands of times at Italian Restaurants, Casinos, and parties. All of those songs that were recorded in the sixties, and there is nothing new like them coming out now. All of the great song writers must be dead.

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Texas Hold Em’

March was slow for Shaken Not Stirred, but things are looking up in April. I have a wedding this weekend in Camarillo, that kicks off the Spring wedding season. Then I have three back to back events in Downtown LA, then the following weekend I am off to La Quinta to bartend two weddings. I have had many calls for graduation parties in May, and am having to farm some of them out. If I can’t do a job myself, I will do my best to refer another bartender I trust, or send one of my other qualified bartenders out.

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Craps

Chino Hills Graduation Party

14 Jun
Storm clouds disappearing in Chino Hills

Storm clouds disappearing in Chino Hills

Saturday night, Shaken Not Stirred bartending service was on hand for a graduation party in Chino Hills. It was a high school graduation party, though I didn’t serve alcohol to the high school graduates, but served to their parents and older friends and relatives. It was a very mellow party, though no doubt an important milestone in a young woman’s life, as she prepares to embark on the next adventure in her life – a college career.

I am always impressed when family members throw parties in honor of each other. I have said this 100 times on this blog, and I will say it again. Anyone who has a party thrown in their honor is a very blessed person. The father of the graduate was so proud of his daughter, and gave a very touching speech on her behalf. Nobody threw a graduation party for me, because I was a terrible student in high school, and a rebellious teen – I didn’t give my parents much to be proud of in high school. The fact that I even graduated is a miracle.

That being said, the group of high school graduated at the Chino hills graduation party were a very nice group of kids. None of them tried to get me to serve them alcohol. They seemed to have a great time sitting at their own table, and when it came time for dancing, they all got out on the dance floor. Anybody who says the youth of today are totally worthless, I will have to say there are countless examples to contrary.

Guests dancing to the "Cupid Shuffle"

Guests dancing to the “Cupid Shuffle”

I served Cadillac Margaritas, Old Fashioneds, and wine. It was not a hard drinking crowd, but I seemed to stay busy. I have a blender and don’t mind making blended drinks at all. I am pretty good at making them, because I made thousands of blended drinks when I worked at the bar at LAX. We made pina colladas, daiquiris, and margaritas blended. People are amazed when I pour the ingredients into the blender, blend it up, then pour into the glass and it pours right to the top of the glass with nothing left over. That comes with practice.

Next week I will be bartending a birthday party in Pasadena on Friday, then travel to Bakersfield on Saturday for a rather large wedding. I am doing all the shopping for the wedding, which I don’t mind doing for a small service charge. This will be my first event in Bakersfield, and I don’t mind going up there, or anywhere if it makes sense financially. At this point, I am still available for the Fourth of July, though I have been emailing back and forth with one person.

Backyard party setup

Backyard party setup

Castaic Graduation Party

24 May
Mariachis making a grand entrance

Mariachis making a grand entrance

Last night Shaken Not Stirred was the bartending service on hand at a graduation party in Castaic. This was the second graduation party I have done this month, and I have realized that a graduation is something very worthy of a celebration. The graduates have worked hard and sacrificed for however many years, and are certainly deserving of a celebration of the highest order. In this case, the graduate the party was in honor of, graduated from USC in the accounting program.

I just realized something tonight as I was sitting in restaurant waiting for my meal.  I saw a couple and I thought I recognized them. Maybe I even bartended their wedding. They were deep in conversation and I didn’t want to interrupt them. I felt a little sad, because I thought of all the weddings, birthday parties, graduations, and engagement parties I have done. All of the people start to blend together. I want to remember all of them, but it is hard.

I have said this before – the greatest thing about bartending private events is that I get to be present as people experience major milestones in their lives. People get married, have 40th birthday parties, have anniversary parties, house warming parties, retirement parties, and I am there pouring drinks through all of it.

Everyone dances

Everyone dances

Last night the Castaic graduation party was a perfect example of how cool it is. The graduate’s father got up and gave speech about how special it was for him to have a daughter, and how proud he was of her to follow him into his chosen profession. It was such a heartfelt speech, and couldn’t be duplicated in a movie. I have heard speech after speech like this.

Today, I am in a hotel room in Banning looking out the window at the mountains in the distance. The sun is shining now, but wasn’t all day and it was unseasonably cold for Southern California. I was supposed to bartend a pool party today in Palm Springs, but it was canceled due to bad weather.  That is the first time this has happened. Maybe I should ask for a bigger deposit. I am not freaking out about it, because I know it is not the norm.

Next weekend I travel to Orange County to bartend a birthday party. I have several birthday parties, weddings, and graduation parties booked next month. Shaken Not Stirred is doing well bartending events all over Southern California.

Shots!

Shots!

Los Angeles Corporate Event

20 May

Shaken Not Stirred, the Los Angeles event bartending service was on hand at a corporate event in the Hancock Park area of LA. Shaken Not Stirred handled many aspects of the event including bar, table, and glassware rentals. Shaken Not Stirred also handled shopping services for all of the beverages, garnishes, and supplies.

I worked closely with the people putting on this event, making sure they got the right glassware, the types of table clothes, ect. We also made a drink menu and shopping list together, down to the wine selection. I made my special cucumber, and jalapeno margarita mixes for the specialty drinks. We served four different wines, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Rose.

I estimated how much wine we would need based on the approximate number of people (65). It has been my experience that people tend to drink less at these corporate functions, as many people make a quick appearance, have one drink, and then leave. That was not the case at this party, as most of the guests were foreign clients, and they tended to stay longer and drink more. It was a good thing that the host at the last minute, had me by more wine. We ended up going through most of it.

In And Out caters event

In And Out caters event

My margaritas seemed to be a hit, and I used most of my mixes. It seemed to have been split 50/50 between the two types of margaritas. I make my jalapeno margarita mix by combing fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, agave syrup and then blending all that together with jalapenos. It is a little spicy, but not overwhelming. I used red pepper as a garnish, along with a lime and a salt rim.

Jalapeno margarita

Jalapeno margarita

In And Out performed catering services for the corporate event. This was the first time I had seen them at a function. They set up a tent in the backyard to serve the guests, and had a truck out on the street doing the cooking. I think that these guests truly appreciated it, because they don’t have In And Out, outside the USA. I enjoyed my burger, even though it was cold by the time I ate it. It even tasted better cold.

Tomorrow night, I will bartend another industry party in Beverly Hills, at the home of one of my best clients. Then, on Saturday night, I will travel to Castaic to bartend a graduation party. May has been a good month for me, and primarily due to repeat business and referrals. That makes it nice when I don’t have to fight for every job I get, though I will continue to keep my eye on the tiger.

Guests mingle during cocktail party

Guests mingle during cocktail party

Fullerton Graduation Party

17 May
Taco service

Taco service

Last night, I was the bartender at a Fullerton graduation party. The host had just graduated and received her doctorate degree, and that required three years of intense study and basically not having any kind of a life, outside her studies. So this graduation party was a great cause for celebration. There were at least 50 friends and family member in attendance, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

I served Cadillac Margaritas, and Cucumber Margaritas, and I also improvised an orange margarita with fresh squeezed orange juice. The cucumber margaritas I make with my own cucumber syrup, and they were quite popular. I didn’t feel this last batch was my best however, and I think I need to adjust the recipe to get more cucumber flavor. One thing for sure, I don’t believe in infused liqueurs at all, and believe the flavor is better when mixes are made from fresh ingredients.

Graduation party in Fullerton

Graduation party in Fullerton

The host hired a taco cart and a mother and daughter team from Tacos Reina (909) 251-1609, provided the catering. I talked to Reyna, the owner and she was a very nice person. I love to see that people are making businesses for themselves. Many of these people rely on word of mouth alone to get their business and don’t know how to use the internet to their advantage. That is why I always put a plug in for people when they do a good job and provide a good service.  Reyna’s salsa and beans were out of this world!

The host also hired mariachis, and Mariachi Estrella de Chapala (562) 619-4891, provided the traditional Mexican entertainment. I always enjoy talking with the mariachis, and I always request my favorite mariachi song,  La Cucurrucucu, and they played it for me and to me. Such a beautiful classic song.

Mariachi Estrella de Chapala

Mariachi Estrella de Chapala

I am working today, preparing for a cocktail party on Tuesday in Hancock Park for one of the television networks. I am arranging for the table rentals, glassware, and doing the shopping. All of this requires a lot of coordination, but as I often say, “It ain’t brain surgery.”  We are buying alcohol and serving drinks, nothing for me is much easier than that. Preparation is the key for a successful event bartender.

I have another graduation party next weekend in Castaic. The graduation party in Fullerton was a referral from a party I did almost three years ago, and those clients were in attendance. I love getting referrals and repeat business. Memorial Day is coming up and I am still available on that date. Will bartend anywhere in Southern California.