Tag Archives: parties

Shaken Not Stirred Cocktails

22 Feb
cocktail1

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.

cocktail2

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.

hc1

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

cocktail4

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

supplies1

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

ps192

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

bond4

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.

Los Olivos Wedding

29 Mar
Figueroa Mountain Farmhouse

Figueroa Mountain Farmhouse

Shaken Not Stirred made the longest journey yet to bartend a wedding reception in the mountains north of Santa Barbara. The contract stated that the wedding was in Santa Ynez, but the venue was closer to the town of Los Olivos. The wedding took place at the Figueroa Mountain Farmhouse, which is a rustic farmhouse that was disassembled in Appalachia, and then brought to the hills and reassembled.  It is a remote location, but very quaint, and with stunning views, fresh air, and bright star lit nights.

The wedding ceremony was held on the hill above the farmhouse and there was a stunning view of the valley below and the ocean to the west. The sunset was incredible and I have provided a picture here. After the wedding, the guests made their way back to the farmhouse for the cocktail hour.  There were about forty guests, so we had one little rush at the bar right after the wedding ceremony.

Get yer' hands out of your pockets!

Get yer’ hands out of your pockets!

I had been hired on this job months ago, and spent much time coordinating with the host. I served Old Fashioneds, Tom Collins, Gin and tonics, and of course, wine and beer. Plymouth gin is by far the best gin available and is what I recommend for gin drinks. I make the Tom Collins with Plymouth gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda, garnished with a cherry.

Guests dined on tamales and Mexican food that a local caterer brought up and dropped off. One thing about it, if you forget anything at this location, it is not too easy to return to town to get it. Los Olivos is the closest town, fifteen miles down a narrow mountain road. My son was with me to help and he was great, as usual.

Guests walking down from wedding ceremony

Guests walking down from wedding ceremony

Next weekend is Easter Sunday, and so far I have nothing scheduled. I hope to get a birthday party or cocktail party on Friday or Saturday night. I have a few events scheduled in April, and will be traveling to Apple Valley at one point to bartend an anniversary party.  I have birthday parties to bartend in Alhambra and Orange County. Book your spring and summer parties now!

Sunset

Sunset

San Diego Engagement Party

30 Nov
Pretty girls in traditional dresses

Pretty girls in traditional dresses

Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending services at an Engagement party in San Diego last night. I book some parties in San Diego, if I feel they are worth traveling that far, and this one definitely was.  This was my first Vietnamese American party and the hosts and guests couldn’t have been nicer. Operating a bartending service in Southern California, I do events for all kinds of ethnic groups, and it is always interesting. I have bartended at Armenian parties, Mexican parties, Russian parties, African American, Italian, and Salvadoran parties.  The language barrier doesn’t seem to be much of a problem.

This particular event was an engagement party and it seemed to be done in a traditional way. The women were dressed in their traditional dresses, and the men wore suits. This is a very important part of Vietnamese culture where the two families come together for the first time. The party was held at the family of the future bride, and the family of the future groom all arrived at once. They brought a number of gifts and roasted pig.

I served Long Island Ice teas, Remy Martin cognac, and Heinekens. There were over 100 guests and that will keep one bartender busy. When I serve a drink like the Long Island Ice Tea, I usually make a big batch of it. If you don’t know already the Long Island is a potent drink and contains vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and triple sec, topped of with a bit of sweet and sour and Coke. The funny thing is that it tastes a little bit like iced tea. It will sneak up on you.

Traditional Vietnamese engagement party

Traditional Vietnamese engagement party

Some party crashers showed up and I thought they were neighbors and served them. The hosts did not want them there and told them to leave. They flat out refused to leave and I thought it was going to be an issue. This can get a little dicey in Southern California, since I hear about shootings at neighborhood parties all the time when party crashers are turned away.

The Christmas party season starts in full swing next weekend. I am bartending two parties. I will stay close to home on Friday night and am bartending a birthday party in Studio city. On Saturday I will travel to Yorba Linda in Orange County to serve drinks at the first Christmas party of the season. I some others booked, but still have many dates left available in December. Call me and let’s talk about it.

Shots!

Shots!

Redondo Beach 50th Birthday Party

10 Sep

The day before Labor Day I bartended a 50th birthday/End of Summer party at a home in Redondo Beach. The house was on the hill almost on the border of Palos Verdes Estates, where there is one of the most fantastic views of the South Bay and the Santa Monica Bay. As I have mentioned before, I have a lot of history in this area. There were about 40 guests at this backyard party and they had tables set up in the yard, along with a taco cart, and stage for a live band.

One of the guests brought her Margaritaville brand margarita mixer and premade margarita mix that already had the tequila added. That made it easy for me. She showed me how to operate the machine, and I made many pitchers of blended margaritas. I walked through the crowd and refilled margaritas, as the crowd and band warmed up. I also served Coronas, red wine, and made a few Blue Hawaiians, and Sea Breezes. The South Bay weather was perfect as it always is.

As the sun went down and the band got into full swing, many of the guests got out on the dance floor. I even saw an elderly lady in a wheel chair roll up to the dance floor and then get up and dance. I admired her tenacity. She refuses to quit living. What is everyone else’s excuse? The host told me that most of the people at the party didn’t know each other, but everyone was getting along great. Good food, good drinks, and excellent atmosphere make for a great party. I have done many 50th birthday parties and it really is an important milestone in anyone’s life.

The South Bay is my favorite area in the Los Angeles basin, and I know there must be hundreds of people needing bartenders for all kinds of parties and events. I love going down there and hope to do many more birthday parties, weddings, fundraisers and other events. I am late writing this blog because I went to Montana on Labor Day and stayed for a week. It was a nice escape for a week, and now it is back to business. I had a cocktail party scheduled in Beverly Hills the first day back, and then have a wedding in Westlake Village this coming Saturday.

Sunset in Redondo Beach

Sunset in Redondo Beach

No excuses!

No excuses!

Shots!

Shots!

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.

How to Hire a Bartender in Southern California

2 Jan

Last Minute Party in Newport Beach and Palm Springs Wedding

6 Oct

I was a home on Sunday afternoon, contemplating going to the beach when the phone rang. Someone was a having a party and the bartender didn’t show up – no show, no call. “How fast can you get to Newport beach?”  the guy wanted a to know. “About an hour,” I said. So I put on my bartending clothes, grabbed my gear and drove to Orange County from the San Fernando Valley.

When I arrived the party was in full swing. It was a child’s birthday party but there were probably sixty adults there and were bartending for themselves.  Chaos at the bar! I hate to be thrown into the fire, so to speak, but I got behind the bar and everything settled down quickly.  I served margaritas, lots of wine and even a mojito or two.  In the end I was glad I came and I was planning to go to the beach, and I did get there. I can’t always do last minute gigs, but you might as well call, because I might be able to.

Yesterday I did a wedding in Palm Springs at the Henry Mancini Estate. This was something that was booked months ago and involved much planning. I brought three girls with me – one barback and two servers. It was a little stressful because one of the girls I had scheduled cancelled and I had to scramble to find somebody else hours before the event. I found someone locally in Palm Springs and she showed up and did a great job.

There were a little over 100 people in attendance and we had two bars set up – one for a cocktail hour by the pool, and one next to the dining/reception area. It all went pretty smoothly and I think a great success. The only problem was that the ice didn’t arrive until ten minutes before we were supposed to start serving. It took awhile for the beer to get cold, but much worse things could have happened. The favorite drink of the night: “ The Groomsman” – Crown Royal and Coke.

I’m looking forward to the holiday season. I have many events booked but still have many dates open in December. Shaken Not Served serves the entire Southern California region.

Cocktail Hour by the pool

Cocktail Hour by the pool

My crew with "El Padrino"

My crew with “El Padrino”

The bartender and "El Padrino"

The “Bar Manager” and “El Padrino”

Chatsworth Engagement Party

22 Sep

Shaken Not Stirred manned another successful back yard event last night – an engagement party in Chatsworth. Over 100 people attended the party and it seemed a great time was had by all. Although I wasn’t contracted to bring a barback, I brought my son, Willie, to train him. As it turned out I really needed him and he was a big help. I usually recommend having a barback or second bartender for parties over 100 people.

As you see in the pictures, the “bar” was made up of six foot folding tables covered by table cloths and that worked just great. People often ask me if I have a bar for rent, or if they should rent a bar. Bar rentals cost as much as $300 a night, and it really isn’t necessary. In fact, I prefer working with the table set up, because there is more room and the table is usually just the right height. The moral of this story is, unless you think a real bar will make your party look that much better, it really isn’t necessary – a folding table with table cloth works just fine. If you have a home bar already, great!

A friend of the engaged couple donated the beer and it was a big hit. The beer we served was St. Archer Blonde Ale and is brewed at St. Archer Brewery in San Diego. We went through at least four cases over the course of the night. As the weather gets cooler, wine becomes more popular. We served several bottles of various red wines, and several bottles of white, as well as a few bottles of champagne. This was a younger crowd, so they drank quite a bit.

Traditional Persian cuisine was served including lula, chicken, and beef kebobs, saffron rice, and other traditional dishes. I was so busy that I didn’t get a card from the caterer, which I usually try to do. They had a DJ and a dance floor also and the party went on until after midnight.

Party before the action

Party before the action

Willie in training mode

Willie in training mode

Party raging...

Party raging…

Table bar setup

Table bar setup

Holiday season is fast approaching and I have booked one Halloween party so far. I still have a few weddings booked in October and early November and then I imagine the focus will shift to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. parties. It is best to book early. Shaken Not Stirred serves all of Los Angeles County, and we also go to Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties. In fact, we’ll go anywhere for the right price.  

LEADS Certified Bartender Serving Los Angeles

11 May

As of today, I am a LEADS certified bartender and am available to serve the greater Los Angeles area. I was certified before, but must have been half asleep because I either did not take it seriously, or I just wasn’t mature enough to listen. Today I took the class in Van Nuys and was very glad I did – my eyes were definitely opened. LEADS stands for Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs. What the class covers are the key points of the liquor laws as they pertain to businesses licensed to serve alcohol. Many of those laws also apply to citizens serving alcohol in their own homes – at private events and company parties.

As a long time bartender I have served minors before. Either I didn’t ask for their ID’s, knew they were with their parents, or received pressure from employers to serve them. After taking the LEADS class, I won’t be doing that again. In the state of California it is a high misdemeanor to serve a minor alcohol and is punishable by a $1000 fine – this goes for the bartender and/or the host of the party. Bars and restaurants are subject to permanent suspension after “three strikes”. It just isn’t worth it to serve a minor, not to mention that alcohol related accidents are by far the leading causes of teen deaths.

Another thing we covered in the class was serving obviously intoxicated people. I have done it, as most bartenders have. There is often tremendous pressure from employers and hosts to continue serving obviously drunk patrons. I will no longer take this lightly. There is a specific law against serving obviously drunk people and it also sets the bartender and the hosts up for tremendous civil liability. Bartenders need to ask a lot of questions if they feel an individual is drunk, and cut him off if necessary, while at the same time attempting to arrange for his or her safe passage home.

LEADS is not a class designed to take all of the fun out of parties, bars, and other events where alcohol is served, but instead is designed to educate bartenders and servers of their responsibility to their employers and the community. At Shaken Not Stirred we will strive to uphold all of California’s liquor laws at your private event or party. Shaken Not Stirred provides certified bartenders for weddings, pool parties, openings, fund raisers, and birthday parties throughout the LA area. Last week we did an engagement party inNorwalk, Saturday morning we are doing a wake in Palos Verdes. Shaken Not Stirred coversLong Beach, San Pedro, and Seal Beach– all the way to Santa Monica, West LA, Beverly Hills, and theSan Fernando Valley.

Professional Bartenders and Servers for Los Angeles Events

22 Jan

Shaken Not Stirred is now serving the Los Angeles area providing professional bartenders and servers for all kinds of events – including parties, weddings, openings, screenings, barbeques, and art shows. Whether you are planning an informal pool party, or formal black tie cocktail reception, Shaken Not Stirred can provide the service you need to maximize the experience of your guests. Our staff strives to make you look good and help to create a memorable event for all involved.

Rob Neighbors has over fifteen years experience bartending and serving in the L.A. area. He has worked in high-end Italian restaurants including Milano’s, Prego, and Frascati of Redondo Beach, where he served as bar manager for three years.

At Frascati, he helped create a wine list and specialty drink menu with Chef  Enrico Glaudo that proved  to be a hit in the busy restaurant. Rob went on to work at the classic French restaurant, La Rive Gauche in Palos Verdes, where he participated in countless special events, including business presentations, wedding receptions, wakes, and company parties.

Over Rob’s career in the restaurant business in Los Angeles, he has developed relationships with top bartenders and servers and has brought them into his company. Every staff member at Shaken Not Stirred has been chosen because they have proven track records and personal and working relationships with Rob Neighbors. We do not send unknown and unproven entities to your event. We pride ourselves on dependability and prompt and professional service.

What you can expect when you book a party with Shaken Not Stirred:

  • Rob will consult with you and help you determine what you will need for the party depending upon the number of guests.
  • Create a specialty drink menu if desired.
  • Bartenders will show up on time with a bar kit including martini shakers, cutting board, wine opener, pourers, and blender if needed.
  • No tip jars. All fees will be agreed upon up front.
  • Friendly, professional service.
  • Professional attire specific to the event.

We realize that planning and executing an important event can be very stressful, and we seek to minimize your stress by providing seamless, invisible service, meaning that our staff comes and goes without any drama or big fan fare.

To book a party, please contact Rob at  (310)280-6103  or email at shakennotstirred1@aol.com.

Rates vary depending on the level of service and type of event. A 25 percent non-refundable deposit will be required at the time of booking.  Shaken Not Stirred has both male and female bartenders and servers available.  We also have relationships with entertainers and caterers.

At Shaken Not Stirred, you only pay for the service provided for your party and no booking fees. Don’t even try to do the party yourself – let us help you create an event that you and your guests will never forget.  Shaken Not Stirred serves the entire Los Angeles Area, including the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, the South Bay,Inland Empire, Orange County, Canyon Country, Ventura County, and Palm Springs.