Party Bartenders, Party Planning, Private Bartender

Event Shopping Lists

Party planning is a skill learned though experience and trial and error. This is certainly the case when making shopping lists for events like weddings, birthday parties, and large corporate events. I have done enough events that I know pretty accurately how much alcohol, mixers, ice, cups, and garnishes are needed. I have provided my clients over the years with literally hundreds of shopping lists for their events. 

You may be throwing a 200 guests wedding, or a ten person bachelorette party. In each case, you will need some idea of how much alcohol and supplies you will need to purchase. People inexperienced with this kind of planning will often purchase way too much. Alcohol may not be returned in California, so whatever is left over from your event you will have to cart home and store it. Let a professional help you with this. 

When I make an event shopping list, I consider the number of guests, the duration of the event, and the type of event it is. Guests at weddings and birthday parties, usually consume more than guests at corporate events, for instance. Some quick two hour events, require much less inventory than a five hour event. The trick is to figure out how much is needed, so there won’t be a lot left over, but at the same time, you don’t run out of anything. 

A Sample Shopping List

Here is a sample shopping list I did for a client. It has the specialty drinks listed at the top that are to be served at the event, and beneath that, the list of everything needed, with the liquor at the top. This is a list for a four hour, 75 guest wedding:

Paloma – tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, sparkling water, tajin rim, lime garnish

Mexican Mule – tequila, lime juice, ginger beer, lime garnish

Irish Mule – Jameson, lime juice, ginger beer, lime garnish

2 1.75ltr Jameson

2 1.75ltr tequila

1 1.75ltr vodka

3 24 pack beer

4 white wine

4 red wine

5 1ltr ginger beer

3 60 oz grapefruit juice

4 1ltr sparkling water

2 2ltr Coke

1 2ltr Coke Zero

1 2ltr Seven up

1 60 oz cranberry juice

1 60 oz pineapple juice

1 1ltr tonic

1 bag limes

1 tajin

300 10 oz cups

100 lbs ice

As you see there are mixers on the list that are not needed for the specialty drinks. I usually do this to give the guests some other non alcoholic drink options, and also to make mixed drinks other than the specialty drinks. It doesn’t cost that much more. There is wine, but not alot, because I have noticed people don’t drink much wine when a bartender is present making cocktails. There is plenty of beer, because when the weather is warmer, guests often drink more beer. The alcohol should be enough to last the four hour event, though it is on the light side. 

Whenever I make a shopping list for a client, I stress that these are my suggestions. The hosts usually know their guests better than me and may want to go heavier or lighter on certain things. I, as the bartender feel much more secure if I do provide a list ahead of time. Sometimes, hosts tell me they don’t need a shopping list, and when I arrive they either have way, way too much stuff, or not enough of certain things. I offer this consultation as a part of my package, so please take advantage of it, because I can save you time and money.  

Christmas Party Bar tenders, Corporate Event, Party Planning, Uncategorized

Valencia Corporate Holiday Party

Bartender Matt at Valencia Corporate Holiday Party

Saturday Night Shaken Not Stirred was the bar caterer for a corporate holiday party in Valencia at the Bridgeport Clubhouse.  This was an event I booked months ago and did much planning with the host. I also took an upfront deposit for all of the supplies and did all the shopping – this is another service I offer for a fee.

We served 150 guests and I brought another bartender with me. We used the drink dispenser to serve premixed margaritas, and spicy jalapeno margaritas. This makes the service faster when you have large crowds. We also helped serve wine at the dining tables. This was a semi formal affair with a sit down dinner. Hasmik’s Party Service provided the catering and they served some excellent appetizers and their beef medallions were fantastic.

Guests share a toast

I was very worried about this event, because I had to transport everything, including the ice. I just thought of all the things that could go wrong. Once again, we pulled it off because we arrived early and were prepared. In the end, the hosts were very happy and commented that they would hire us again next year to bartend their corporate holiday party.

Dining room at Bridgeport Clubhouse

Corporate Holiday Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartending service
  • Create a theme
  • Hire a DJ
  • Have a photo booth

Capture It Now provided the photo booth, and that is always fun for the guests and gives them a memento of the event. It was my third successful event of the week and we are now halfway through the holiday season, heading toward the culmination at New Year’s Eve.

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Mexican Wedding, Wedding Bartender

Torrance and Coachella Wedding Parties

Bride and Groom in Torrance

Last weekend Shaken Not Stirred was on hand to bartend to great wedding parties, in Torrance and Coachella. The Torrance party was held at a zumba studio on Carson Street, but it converted to an event venue quite nicely, and I even had a bar to work behind. The Coachella wedding party was held at the Corona Yacht Club, and that was second time I have worked that venue in two months.

I booked the Friday night party on Thursday night. Everything worked out fine on short notice. Most people book their wedding parties months in advance, but it doesn’t have to be doesn’t have to be done that was. I provided the host with a shopping list of what he needed to buy based on the number of people. He did that, and everything came off fine. The danger of booking last minute is that there won’t be anybody available. Fortunately, I was available, so it was a great deal for me, and the host.

The fathers share a drink
The fathers share a drink

The Coachella event was booked months in advance. It was actually booked by my associate bartender, Mia Martini, and it was the fifth of six events we have booked to together in the past two months. We will be doing another wedding party together on Halloween night in Northridge. At the Coachella event we served Mojitos, Moscow Mules, and Margaritas – the three M’s. Another successful party went down.

I finally booked a Halloween party for Friday in Marina Del Rey, and will be once again dressing as Loyd the bartender (from the Shining). It is not a big stretch for me.  Then on Saturday, Halloween, I will be bartending the wedding party in Northridge, and then on Sunday, I will be bartending a birthday party in Los Angeles. November is shaping up to be one of my busiest months every, and I already have many weekdays and Sundays booked, as well as all but one Saturday.

The lagoon in Coachella
The lagoon in Coachella

Mobile Bartenders, Special Event Bartenders

Mobile Bartending from Beverly Hills to Quartz Hill

Shaken Not Stirred mobile bartending service did three events last week starting with a Beverly Hills cocktail party on Thursday, then a post wedding reception in quartz Hill, and finishing the weekend off with a company pool party in the hills of Burbank. The actual bartending is only part of the story, because each of these events required planning, including the shopping lists and drink menus, and in the case of the Burbank party I did the actual shopping for alcohol and beverages. I’m glad I did that because it was a great learning experience for me and I came in $47 under budget.

I did a little research and chose Smart and Final for 95 percent of the items I needed. They had everything from cups, to straws, good prices on soda, and most of the alcoholic beverages I needed. There were only a couple of specialty items I needed which I found at a very nice liquor store, Mission Wine and Spirits on Burbank Blvd. If you are in the San Fernando Valley I highly recommend this place. If you are planning a party and need help with the shopping list I have many lists already made for various numbers of people. I can also do the shopping for you for a fee, of course.

The Beverly Hills cocktail party was repeat business for me and I was glad to have it on the Thursday night. The host told me she would be using me a lot, because I am dependable and not priced out of sight. I am a good bartender and am worth the going rate and more, but I also realize that bartending is not brain surgery, and price my service accordingly. Each crowd that I service is different, and in Beverly Hills it seems it is all about business. They want somebody who comes in, does the job, is tactful and discreet, and then cleans up and gets out of there without a lot of fanfare and I can do that.

Saturday, I was off to Quartz Hill, outside of Lancaster to bartend a post wedding reception. The wedding took place in the Bahamas and the hosts wanted a reception for their family friends back home. I served many blended drinks there including Pina Colladas, Cadillac Margaritas, and Strawberry Margaritas. Shaken Not Stirred is a mobile bartending service that serves most of Southern California, including the far ends of Los Angeles County

Beverly Hills backyard
Beverly Hills backyard

Native flora of Quartz Hill
Native flora of Quartz Hill

Bar menu at wedding reception
Bar menu at wedding reception

Burbank pool party
Burbank pool party


The company pool party on Sunday was held at the host’s home in the hills above Burbank. There are some incredible houses up there, and this was one of them. It was spitting rain all day, but that didn’t keep the guests from drinking delicious Mai Tais, Cadillac Margaritas, and Blue Hawaiians in and out of the pool. No lightning scares. You will notice that I serve Cadillac Margaritas at almost every party I do because people love them! They are by far the most popular drink I serve. Next week I do at wedding at CBS Studios in Studio City. So far August 16th is still open, though I have some inquiries floating out there.  

Birthday Party Bartender

San Clemente Surprise Birthday Party

Saturday night I traveled south to Orange County to bartend a surprise birthday party in San Clemente. San Clemente is one of the true gems of Southern California right on the border of Orange/San Diego Counties. You really couldn’t find a nicer place to live anywhere in the country. The host had done extensive planning to pull off this event as a surprise and was quite successful – her husband was totally surprised.

I must say I was very impressed by how much the host had put into this event. She had photo shopped pictures of her husband with various celebrities and it had me fooled. I wondered who is this guy? She had made a surf/Hawaiian theme and the back yard looked incredible. I set up my portable bar on a little section of lawn and it fit just perfectly. They had artificial grass at this house, and I must say it looked very nice and was perfect to set up on.

The host and I did a lot of planning on the drink menu. I served Mojitos, Pom Martinis, Bellinis, Margaritas, blended Strawberry Margaritas, and Coors Light. The birthday boy was Coors Light man and the beer went fast. We ran out of beer before the party was over, but one of the guests came to the rescue and brought more.  Every crowd is different and it is hard to gauge what people are going to drink the most of.


Hills of San Clemente
Hills of San Clemente

Portable bar with green trim
Portable bar with green trim

Sohotaco cart
Sohotaco cart


did the catering and they served up some awesome fish tacos and regular tacos. Overall it was a very nice event and a great group of people. I am tired after doing three events this week and only hope I will be this tired every week. Shaken Not Stirred as a business is really taking off and I am grateful. I hope to keep up the momentum.

Next week is Fourth of July weekend and I will be in Newport Beach for a Fourth of July party, and then have a big wedding to do with over 250 people in Santa Ana. Every Saturday is booked in July and I have four weddings in August. As they say where I come from – “make hay while the sun is still shining.”

Party Planning, Special Event Bartenders

Party Planning in Los Angeles

People planning special events and parties in theLos Angeles area often ask me for ideas for specialty drinks and what they will need to stock their bar. Of course everybody has a different budget. I have posted below some of my specialty drinks and some ideas of what to buy when hosting a party of 40 to 50 guests. This is assuming that the guests will be drinkers and I try to cover most bases. Some hosts prefer to limit the choices and that usually works just fine and keeps the cost down. A good bartender can suggest drinks to guests that they may not of thought of.

There are a few signature drinks I make:

Pomegranate Cosmo – Pom juice, Vodka, Rose’s Lime juice, garnished with a lime

Cadillac Margarita – Tequilla, Margarita mix, Gran Marnier floater

Dirty Martini
 – Vodka, olive juice, dry vermouthMai  Tai – White rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine, Myers rum floater

White Russian – Vodka, Kalua, Milk

Pomegranate Sunrise – Pom juice,

orange juice, Tequilla

Of course, I can make all of the other combinations with those ingredients.

You may want to just keep it simple and go with one or two of those and the usual Jack and Coke, gin and tonic, etc. Margartitas are usually popular.

For 40 to 50 people I would suggest the following:

2  1.75 ltr bottle of tequila

2  1.75 ltr bottles of vodka

1  750mltr bourbon

“           Gin

“           Scotch

“           White Rum

“           Kahlua

“           Dark rum

“           Dry Vermouth

1 large bottle of Margarita mix

1 bottle Rose’s lime

1 bottle sour mix

1 bottle triple sec

1 bottle Pom Juice

1 carton Orange juice

1 carton milk

12 pack Coke

12 pack 7 up

12 pack Diet Coke

48 bottled waters

2  2 liter bottles of club soda
12 limes2  2 liter bottles of tonic

Bar salt

1 jar of olives

2 12 packs beer

2 12 packs light beer

6 bottles white wine

6 bottles red wine

5 20 pound bags of ice

Box cocktail napkins

Box bar straws

Box bar picks

Of course there is probably going to be a lot of liquor left over, but this list should keep everybody happy and you won’t run out of key ingredients in the middle of the party. Also, the types of drinks that are popular tend to coincide with the food that is being served. I have worked parties where Mexican food was catered and in those cases beer and margaritas were the popular thing. Other parties have a majority of wine drinkers. Vodka seems to be the most popular liquor item because it mixes with so many things.

When buying for your party or special even in the L.A. area, BevMo is a good place to go when you are buying a lot of things and you can get a good discount with their card. Ralph’s offers a great discounts when you buy six bottles of wine at a time. Costco and Smart and Final are also good.  Some people want kegs of beer and I can advise them on that too – Vendome Liquor is good for kegs.

Please call me (310) 280-6103 or email me if you have any questions or need help planning your party. I can help you tailor a drink menu that coincides with your food menu.  In any case, don’t get stressed out when planning your party – let the professional bartenders at Shaken Not Stirred help you plan your party in Los Angeles.