Tag Archives: mixologist

Mixologist at Encino Party

18 Apr
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Portable bar at Encino property

Shaken Not Stirred was the mixologist  (a must read) in residence at an Encino birthday party Saturday night. I made craft cocktails for a Southern themed party at a beautiful Encino home for approximately 40 guests. The cocktails I made included Cajon Lemonade, a cucumber mint gin julep, and the Kentucky cousin. Craft cocktails are a little more time intensive to make and it works better to serve them for smaller groups like this.

First of all, I hate the term, mixologist. I am using it here because it is a keyword people search for. I can do craft cocktails – it is not brain surgery. I have learned a lot about bartending from some of the clients I have served. One thing that is almost always present in craft cocktails, is 2 parts alcohol, one part sweetening agent, and one part citrus. I learned a new drink, the Pimm’s Cup, from some of the guests at the Encino party.

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Guests mingle at Encino birthday party

Code of the Mixologist

  • Grow a handle bar mustache
  • Wear a pork pie hat
  • Suspenders!
  • Talk about yourself in the third person
  • Equate yourself with nuclear physicists and brain surgeons

Lenny G’s provide the Louisiana style catering. They made up big pots of crawfish, and had other goodies like tritip, corn on the cob, hush puppies, and sweet potatoes. I am embarrassed to admit, but that was the first time I ever tried crawfish. They look very cool, and are like mini lobsters, and taste a lot like that too. Overall, I think the birthday boy, who was 38 had a great time. The Encino property was perfect for having parties, and I hope to return in the future.

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Guests dine on crawfish and goodies from Lenny G’s

Next weekend I am bartending a school fundraiser at a home in Hancock Park on Saturday. So far I have nothing booked for either Friday or Sunday. Have bar, and will travel to anywhere in Southern California. Maybe one day, I will get some more tattoos and a nose ring and become a real Los Angeles mixologist.

 

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.

Encinitas Pool Party

14 Sep
Bar setup in Encinitas

Bar setup in Encinitas

Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred traveled to Encinitas in San Diego County to bartend a pool party.  I don’t normally try to book much work in San Diego because it can be difficult getting in and out of there. Last week I had business in San Marcos, so it made sense to take this pool party in Encinitas. I’m glad I did – it was worth it to me and I hope the clients will call me again. They gave me another 5 star review on Thumbtack, so I guess they were happy as well.

Speaking of Thumbtack, I was chosen the #1 Bar Caterer in Los Angeles by the website, based on my reviews. I’m proud of this accomplishment, and I also realize there are probably more accomplished bartenders than me. I don’t call myself a mixologist, because I believe that bartending is not brain surgery. I make good drinks, and I think the key to good drinks is simplicity. I believe the biggest reason I have gotten all 5 star review is that I show up early every time. That way I have time to prepare properly, which is 90 percent of it. I cannot coast at this point and rest on my laurels – I have to work harder, because the competition in Los Angeles is tough. I think many other people suddenly got the idea that they would start their own bartending business also.

Certificate from Thumbtack

Certificate from Thumbtack

On Saturday, I was making simple drinks. I made blended margaritas and most of the people were drinking those. The client had a very nice blender, the Vita Mix, and it was very simple to use and made excellent blended drinks. I was responsible for bringing the ice and I brought 100 pounds and we used every bit of it. On hot summer days, probably better estimate 2 pounds of ice for each guest.

The client in Encinitas also hired a life guard, which I thought was an excellent idea when there are young children swimming.  Rock star, Tommy Lee, had a child drown in his pool at a party a couple of years ago, and I’m sure that will haunt him forever. Taquizas El Unico of Chula Vista provided the catering and excellent tacos.

Guests mingle at Encinitas pool party

Guests mingle at Encinitas pool party

This weekend I will be bartending a rehearsal dinner in Temecula on Friday night, and then on Saturday I will be bartending a wedding at a clothing optional resort in Desert Hot Springs, which should be interesting.  I asked the host what she wanted me to wear and she said, “Wear anything you want.” Decisions, decisions….

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!

Three Event Weekend for Los Angeles Special Event Bartenders

7 Dec

This was a three event weekend for Shaken Not Stirred in Los Angeles special event bartenders. Friday night we had two big events in Studio City and Hollywood. I bartended a 21st birthday party at a home in Studio City and I sent two bartenders to bartend a wrap party at the rooftop of the W Hotel in Hollywood.  On Saturday night I traveled to Yorba Linda in Orange County to bartend a company Christmas party. From all accounts, the three events were a smashing success, literally and figuratively.

Studio City 21st Birthday Party

I had met with the guest of honor in advance and he had some specific cocktails he wanted to serve at his party. We came up with a list, including the Mai Tai, the Coconut Pie, and most importantly, the Flaming B-52 shot.  I had never done the flaming shots before, and I got plenty of practice at this party. I spent half the night pouring and lighting Flaming B-52 shots.

The Flaming B-52 is made with Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Gran Marnier, and topped off with a dash of Bacardi 151. You light it up and the guest drinks it quickly through a straw. I felt kind of like the guy in the Deer Hunter who loads the gun for Russian roulette, each time I would light a shot up. The birthday boy seemed to have had a great time and turning 21 is a big deal in anyone’s book.

Friends celebrate a man's 21st birthday

Friends celebrate a man’s 21st birthday

Hollywood Wrap Party Featured Special Event Bartenders

After I had already booked the party in Studio City, one of my best clients contacted me and wanted me to bartend a wrap party in Hollywood. I sent two of my best bartenders to do that one. I was not going to ditch the first person who had contracted with me for that date to do a potentially more glamorous party. I don’t do things that way. I had total faith that the bartenders I sent to Hollywood would deliver and they did.

The wrap party had Don Julio sponsor the tequila and they had a rep on hand mixing Paloma Margaritas, made with grapefruit juice. I worked with the coordinator and we developed a list of three other margaritas to serve: The Prickly Pear Margarita, the Cucumber Margarita, and the Jalapeno Margarita.  I made the cucumber syrup, and the Jalapeno juice for two of those drinks, and word has gotten back to me that the drinks were a hit.

Yorba Linda Company Christmas Party

Saturday Night I bartended a company Christmas party in Yorba Linda, in the heart of Orange County.  I had spoken briefly with the host about a drink menu and shopping list, but we didn’t ever come up with anything definitively. I think she was super busy arranging the party, as she hired a caterer, a magician, blackjack dealers, a Santa, and me the bartender.

Santa hands out gifts to kids in Yorba Linda

Santa hands out gifts to kids in Yorba Linda

Anyway, I had very limited supplies to work with, but I made the best of it and developed my own drink with rum, triple sec, fresh lime juice, and soda, which I called the Christmas Fizzle, and it was a hit. The host requested a Bloody Mary and I had no tomato juice, or anything, so I improvised a Bloody Mary with Tapatio, olive juice, and vodka. She loved it! Now, that is a mixologist. (I hate that word).

The caterers on the event were Exciting Events out of Temecula. Their Jamaican shrimp appetizers were incredible, and so was their tri-tip with sundried mash potatoes. Their food was way above average as far as caterers go, and I highly recommend them.

Shots!

Shots!

Special Event Bartender Busy in December

The people who hired me to bartend the 21st birthday party in Studio City wanted to hire me again for a wrap party next weekend. Unfortunately, I am already booked for another party in Valley Village. I think I have found another bartender for them, though it was difficult. All the bartenders are already booked for most of the dates in December. I just booked another holiday party in Redondo Beach on Thursday, which is my old stomping grounds. Call me if you still need bartenders for your holiday parties, wrap parties, or just plain old get togethers.

Studio City Wedding at “New York Street”

11 Aug

Saturday Shaken Not Stirred travelled all the way to New York Street

Mia bartending at New York Street

Mia bartending at New York Street

Real New Yorkers!

Real New Yorkers!

New York Street wedding

New York Street wedding

The toast...

The toast…

Shots!

Shots!

at CBS Studios in Studio City to bartend a wedding. It was a party of 200 people and I took another bartender, Mia, who has worked with me several times. This was my first event at the studio and I was nervous – big parties like this have the potential to go wrong in many different ways. My method of combating potential problems is to arrive early.

I did arrive one hour early and the first problem I noticed was that there weren’t enough cups. That was probably my fault because I had made a shopping list for the clients and they just followed it. Luckily, Mia had not arrived yet and was able to pick some more cups up. I recommend that people buy at least four times the number of cups as there are guests. Yes, a lot go to waste, but I don’t know how to remedy that.

The second problem was that the ice had not yet arrived when guests started arriving for the cocktail hour before dinner. People were waiting for 20 minutes before we had ice. This has happened at several weddings. I guess it’s just one of those details that slips through the cracks. Once the ice arrived, everything else went smoothly.

The host had chosen a speciality cocktail, the Cucumber Margarita. I volunteered to make the cucumber syrup, although I had never made it before. It turned out great! I made a gallon of it and it is very concentrated. I used fresh lemon/lime juice to mix with it. The cumber taste comes through loud and clear. It mixes well with vodka and tequila and I made myself a non-alcoholic drink with the syrup, lemon/lime and soda water that was really good.  Wow, I’m now a real “mixologist” though I hate that term and think it is pretentious.

The wedding was a really nice affair and the weather couldn’t have been nicer. We ran out of beer an hour before the party ended, but still had plenty of vodka and tequila left. This was a nearly eight hour party, and I guess I didn’t take into consideration it was two or three hours longer than most parties when I made the shopping list.  Next weekend, I have a birthday party in Studio City, and then I have three more weddings later this month in Tehachapi, Camarillo, and El Monte.

Beverly Hills Cocktail Party

29 May

For the second Wednesday in a row I was the bartender at a cocktail party in Beverly Hills, and neither were related which was a strange coincidence. I must admit, I am not really a “mixologist” but I had to do my best for this party and it was a good experience. The host gave me a fewcocktail recipes and I had to help compile a list of the different items needed. Some of the items on the list were not available, like Cuban Rum for instance, most all of the others we found at Total Wine and More.

I must also admit that I’m an old school bartender, who has always believed that the most important ingredient in a drink was the base alcohol, so I made strong drinks with not a lot of mixer and people were usually happy. For this cocktail party I did things differently and stuck completely to the recipes, and measured each ingredient exactly, which I have never done. One of the guests of the party explained to me why it was important not to put too much sweetening agent in a particular drink, but it was important to put just enough. I can appreciate that.

When I was working at Frascati in Redondo Beach I worked with many Italians and I noticed how important food and beverage was to them. They took such care in simple things like making an espresso or cappuccino. They knew all about the cheeses and different ingredients that were in their dishes. I had a feeling that they felt most of us Americans were lazy and ignorant about these things. Most of the time we were. Those of us in the food and beverage industry should take more time to learn more about everything we are doing.

The drinks we were serving at the cocktail party were classic cocktails including the Singapore Sling, the Centennial, the Hemingway Daiquiri, the Mai Tai (Trader Vic’s Recipe), and the Aviation Cocktail. The Aviation Cocktail is an interesting drink and has an ingredient, Crème de Violet, which gives a lavender tint to the drink and a very unique taste.

Beverly Hills bartender

Beverly Hills bartender

Mixologist station

Mixologist station

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

This weekend Shaken Not Stirred will be doing an anniversary party in Santa Clarita, then next weekend a Triple Crown Party in Pasedena, and an informal Bar Mitzvah, where I will be making “mocktails” for 100 teenagers in Calabasas. Then later on I have parties and weddings booked in Orange County, Camp Pendlelton, Lancaster, and Thousand Oaks. Business is really taking off and I am grateful.

Fillmore Wedding and Palm Springs Bachelorette Party

26 May

This was a busy weekend for Shaken Not Stirred. Saturday night I did a wedding in Fillmore in Ventura County, and then was off to Palm Springs the next morning to bartend a bachelorette party. I travel all over Southern California to do gigs, and I put a few miles on my car this weekend.

My son helped me with the wedding in Fillmore and did an incredible job. That was the second job he has helped me with and I am comfortable with him bartending or serving. I have extensive experience as a server and am not afraid to get my hands dirty. We had to clear the plates on all the tables at this wedding and help serve the cake. The wedding was set in an orange grove and it was a very nice location for it.

At this particular wedding the bar was set up quite away from the tables and dance floor and everyone was congregated at the bar after dinner, while the dance floor was empty. The bride asked us to move the bar closer to the dance floor and we quickly did it, kegs and all. It all worked out. They had two kegs at this wedding and the beer was popular, but I would say half of the beer was left over. I don’t recommend kegs unless it is a party over 200. They usually slow service way down – it takes about five seconds to open a bottle of beer and hand it to guest, whereas it may take a full minute to fill a draft beer, when there are twenty people in line.

I drove to Palm Springs bright and early for the bachelorette party. I must admit, my mind was racing, wondering exactly what goes on at a bachelorette party? Well, what it boiled down to was several close girlfriends celebrating their friend’s final month as a single person. They rented a house with a pool in Palm Springs for the occasion. I set up my portable bar by the pool and served them Moscow Mules, and wine. It is getting hot in the desert and I have two more events already booked for later this summer in Palm Springs.

Wednesday, I am playing mixologist at a cocktail party in Beverly Hills. I have a list of complex classic drinks the host wants, including a Singapore Sling. This will be a challenge, but I welcome it! Then, next weekend, we are doing an anniversary party in Santa Clarita.

 

Willie bartending in Fillmore

Willie bartending in Fillmore

Dance floor in Fillmore

Dance floor in Fillmore

Palm Springs Rental House

Palm Springs Rental House

What the hell?

What the hell?

Caribbean Birthday Bash in Hills of Sherman Oaks

11 Aug

High above the sweeping San Fernando Valley in the hills of Sherman Oaks was a 65th Caribbean inspired birthday party on August 10th. 40 plus people attended and sipped frozen rum drinks, Margaritas, and Red Stripe beer. Nesta provided the steel drum entertainment, and a quartet of talented lady singers made a surprise appearance. Shaken Not Stirred of Van Nuys provided the mixologist – me.

I worked with closely with the host making the drink menu and shopping list. She wanted one specialty drink that I had never made before: the Royal Caribbean Lava Flow. I was reluctant to do the drink, because it seemed like it had the potential to be messy and time consuming. I’m glad I did do it, because it was a hit and looked fantastic. You soak frozen strawberries in Myer’s Rum, then pour them into the bottom of a glass, then you pour a blended mixture of ice, white rum, bananas, Malibu Rum, and coconut cream over the top, creating a layered, “lava flow” drink. Needless to say, I ran out of ingredients half way through the party.

Pouring Jamaican Rum Punch

Pouring Jamaican Rum Punch

That was no problem, because I was also making Jamaican Rum Punch, Mai Tais, Bahama Mamas, and frozen margaritas. Pinot Grigio was the wine of the night and I opened many Red Stripes. Guests dining on jerk chicken, braised beef, red beans and rice, plantains, and other Jamaican delicacies provided by caterer, Spicy Charlie’s

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Chef “Spicy” Charlie and crew doing their thing

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Guests mingling above Sherman Oaks

I have upcoming events booked in September, October, and November. The holiday season will come faster than we know, so now is a good time to start booking those holiday parties. Shaken Not Stirred provides bartending services for weddings, birthday parties, reunions, openings, corporate events, and just plain old parties.

Call me today and we can start planning; I can help you make a drink menu specific to your event, and a shopping list of everything you will need. Let me help you host an unforgettable occasion!

Sherwood Forest 50th Birthday Party Mixologist

2 Jun

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Katie doing her thing

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Mixologist Rob mixing a concoction

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Got Patron?

June 2, was date of a 50th birthday party in the exclusive San Fernando Valley hamlet of Sherwood Forest (formerly, Northridge). My clients went all out and decorated the backyard pool area to create a memorable event for the birthday girl. I brought a server, Katie (who has worked with me several times)  to help with the food, while I manned the bar.

Our client rented a bar, tables and chairs from a party rental company. It’s always nice to have a real bar as opposed to a table set up, and makes me think I need to get one, but then I would need a truck to haul it in. In reality a table works fine and in the end the guests don’t really care where their excellent drinks come from.

I’ve never called myself a “mixologist”,  I’m old school and that word seems a little pretentious, but I was the hired mixologist of the night. I’ll take it. The host came up with an excellent drink menu. I served Margaritas, Cadillac Margaritas, Bay Breezes, Cosmos, and a couple of specialty drinks that were favorites of my clients. The most popular cocktail of the night was the Island Breeze: Malibu rum, Blue Curacao, and pineapple juice, garnished with pineapple and a cherry. Shock Top and Corona Light were the beers of the night. Arnold Palmers were the non-alcoholic drink of choice.

The guests dined on Mexican food from a local restaurant and deserts made by the host. Overall, the party seemed to be a smashing success. The forecast called for triple digit weather, but as the sun went down the weather was perfect for backyard partying. Plan your summer party today and let us help you. Shaken Not Stirred serves the San Fernando Valley, the LA Basin, and pretty much the whole Southern California area. We’ll go anywhere in the world if the price is right! Now that I’m a mixologist, I’m sure I can get gigs in Europe, South America, the Far East, and Down Under.

Seriously, Shaken Not Stirred is serious about summer birthday parties, weddings, pool parties, class reunions, openings, and all other events. Several dates in July are already booked, but I have many skilled bartenders available. Call or email for rates and availability. I had two last minute calls yesterday and couldn’t fill them on such short notice, but don’t hesitate to call, because sometimes I can.