Tag Archives: party

Porter Ranch Christening Party

6 Oct

Sunday night, Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending services for the third time in the weekend at a Christening party at a home in Porter Ranch. I never know what to expect when I show up to an event. I have to assume that people are going to drink a lot and I am going to be very busy for seven hours straight and I have to prepare for that. There were over 100 people at this party and I was working by myself, so I had the potential to be very busy. I did have an initial rush of people at the beginning and was steadily busy for awhile, then it dropped off. This was a Sunday party.

People have events and they serve alcohol. Most people drink responsibly and not all parties are huge blow outs, where we have to go for more booze. This was a very mellow event on a Sunday night and I must say was just what I needed to end up a busy weekend. Somebody asked me how my night was going and I said “perfect”. I mean, who can complain when you are listening to good music, seeing and meeting beautiful people who are all dressed up, making money, and eating wonderful food? Not me.

Speaking of food, the meal they served at this party was excellent. I have eaten all kinds of food at all kinds of events and some of it is mediocre. This meal, was catered by the host’s father. He owns an Italian Deli in Thousand Oaks called Benvenuti

Mirrored bar and drink menu at Porter Ranch

Mirrored bar and drink menu at Porter Ranch

Friends and family celebrate

Friends and family celebrate

Shots!

Shots!

. The Chicken Marsala they served at the party was out of this world, it was so tender. They also had lasagna which was very good and pasta salad and veggies. I highly recommend them, if you are having a party anywhere in the San Fernando or Conejo Valleys.

I served a case of Prosecco, and had to pour half of the last bottle out at the end of the night. That is what I call a successful party. We had just enough. The signature drink the host chose in honor of her daughter’s christening was the Madras. Vodka, cranberry juice, and a splash of orange juice. I also served a lot of Johnny Walker Black Label, and Stella Artois beer.

When I’m not busy behind the bar I try to help keep the tables cleared of cups and bottles. This is something I have just been trained to do over the years working at fine dining establishments. The hosts and guests always seem to appreciate that. Next weekend I have a wedding to bartend in Temecula, and am in negotiations to bartend an anniversary party the following weekend in Palmdale. I’m coming up on a year anniversary myself of when I quit my full time job, and I must say I am loving every minute of it.

Venice Post-Wedding Luau

5 Oct

Shaken Not Stirred performed bartending services for the second event of a three event weekend at a Venice, California post wedding luau.

The Newly-weds at their Venice luau

The Newly-weds at their Venice luau

Fully decorated tiki bar

Fully decorated tiki bar

Me behind the bar in Venice, California

Me behind the bar in Venice, California

Traditional Polynesian fire show

Traditional Polynesian fire show

The couple was married earlier in the year, but had family in from out of the country and decided to throw a Hawaiian themed event in their backyard for their friends and family.  They really spent a lot of time decorating and had a time and place tunnel that guests had to walk through when entering the party that takes them to “Hawaii”.

When I arrived the whole backyard was already full of people.  I panicked, thinking I was late and had the times mixed up. The host informed me I wasn’t late. I have never been late to an event yet, and don’t want to break my record. Even though I was on time, I was thrown right into the fire. Guests started lining up at the bar right away and I had to start making Pina Colladas, Mai Tais, and Blue Hawaiians right away. These are the standard drinks at all Luaus and there are different variations of them.

They had a Hawaiian trio, Lei Aloha, performing music and the food was provided by King’s Hawaiian Bakery. They had some of the best Hawaiian pork I have ever tasted. When the sun went down, the temperature cooled down nicely and I continued to make tropical drinks. The hosts had purchased some plastic coconut cups that were kind of fun. Many of the guests at the party were visiting from Holland and it was nice meeting and talking to all of them. I have a good friend in Holland, Big Pete, who is a successful musician, and I will give him a shout out here.

I have history in this particular neighborhood in Venice. I used to hang out with a girl and we would dog sit some dogs just down the street from where the party was held. We used to walk the dogs in that neighborhood and admire all of the cute houses in the area, fantasizing that we would someday own one of them. I recognized the address when I booked the party.

The highlight of the party was a performance at the end of the evening by some traditional Hawaiian dancers, Tausala Polynesia. They got the guests involved for a couple numbers, and then did a traditional fire show as their finale. Tonight, I do it again as I bartend a Christening here in the San Fernando Valley, in Porter Ranch. Two very successful events down this weekend, one to go.

Pasadena Triple Crown Party

8 Jun

Shaken Not Stirred was in Pasadena Saturday to bartend a Triple Crown viewing party and root on California Chrome. The favorite horse didn’t win, but the party guests had a great time it seemed. The house where the party was held was perfect for entertaining and the weather could not have been nicer. Around fifty guests gathered to watch the race, mingle and sip cocktails, and eat fried chicken.

The host told me that it was the first time they had hosted a party in four years, which is surprising because the house just seems built for having parties. They had a great outside bar beneath an overhang beside the pool. I had a refrigerator and sink and all the booze I needed. The drink of the day was the White Russian, followed by the Madras. Bourbon and Vernor’s Ginger ale was a favorite among horse racing aficionados.

They did not have a caterer, but instead served Kentucky Fried Chicken. I didn’t know that was what it was until I asked the host if he had made the chicken. I thought he had a great recipe! I hadn’t had KFC in a long time. The guests seemed to love it and it fit for this party.

The host had hired a server on Craigslist who called and cancelled just before the party. Had I known that they wanted a server I could have provided one. I have several good people who help me from time to time, males and females. It is amazing to me how many people advertise services and contract for services, and then flake out. Showing up is ninety percent of the gig!

Today I have an informal Bar Mitzvah to do in Calabasas. I will be making “mocktails” and using dry ice. I have never put dry ice in drinks before, so it should be interesting. Next week I have a 50th birthday party to do in Thousand Oaks on Friday. I am still open at this point on Saturday the 14th and hope to get an event. I have several more events scheduled for later this month.

Guests arrive in style

Guests arrive in style

Watching the race

Watching the race

Perfect party weather in Pasadena

Perfect party weather in Pasadena

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.

La Canada 40th Birthday Party

30 Mar

A person’s 40th birthday is an important milestone and certainly a cause for a huge celebration. I was a part of an epic celebration last night at an estate in La Canada. The property, as you can see in the pictures is made for throwing big parties. There was a brand new outside wet bar and another very nice formal bar inside the house, where I was stationed as the special martini bartender.

I was hired kind of last minute for this event and they also hired three additional bartenders for the outside bar. I was there just to make martinis. I had real martini glasses, which is always nice and I probably made over 100 martinis throughout the night. I made dirty martinis, Cosmopolitans, Lemon Drops, Gimlets, and margaritas. I went through five large bottles of Grey Goose. I was shaking all night long, which reminded me of my days at Frascati Ristorante in Redondo Beach.

Backyard before  the action started

Backyard before the action started

Inside "Martini" bar

Inside “Martini” bar

A great party atmosphere!

A great party atmosphere!

Street in La Canada outside event

Street in La Canada outside event

This is the kind of bartending I love to do.

There were supposed to be 200 people at the party and I think there were at least that many there. They had a dance floor set up in the back of the yard and at one point I walked outside and it was raging. The caterer put out a spread of traditional Armenian food and it was excellent. I finally had a chance to eat at around one AM. Celebrating Life by Dona coordinated the event and I hope to work with them again.

After one AM they released the outside bartenders and they had me stay on as the closing bartender. I was irritated by the condition the other bartenders left the outside bar. It was a total mess. They left all of the caps off of the liquor bottles and the mixers and I couldn’t find them. So, the mixers will probably have to be poured out, and what do you do with liquor bottles left half full with no caps on them? This is a sloppy, greedy attitude that is prevalent among many bartenders. They just want to make as much money as possible and split on the minute they were supposed to work until. I won’t have any bartenders working for me that are like that.

Next weekend I have a big engagement party scheduled in West Hollywood where I am taking a crew of three extra people. I am booked every Saturday in April and have a wedding in Valencia, and birthday parties in El Monte and Woodland Hills. I have also booked some gigs as far away as next October. Book your parties now – put down a 20 percent deposit and the day is yours.

Mira Loma Wedding

16 Mar

Last night I bartended a backyard wedding at a home in Mira Loma in the Inland Empire. I do all kinds of weddings from very fancy affairs to small backyard weddings. This one had about 75 people in attendance and was very nice. They had a a DJ, a live band, a caricature artist, and me, the bartender. I think the family put the food together, which was very good. The large backyard was perfect for hosting a wedding of this size. The important thing is that the people in attendance seemed to have a great time.

It is already getting hotter, so I want to remind everybody to get plenty of ice for their parties, because it melts fast. I think we had seven twenty pound bags for this party and we used every bit of it. I had tubs of Modelo, Tecate, Corona, Bud Light, and Coors. I served Tequila, Malibu, Jack Daniels, and Seagram’s Seven. I had made a shopping list for the host and I think we used up most of the booze.

One of the guests brought two kegs and people were pouring that beer for themselves. When he left the keg was still three quarters full. A lot of people were drinking bottled beer, so that was part of it. I usually tell people not to get keg beer for this reason – most of it goes to waste, and it is very problematic. Kegs are hard to keep cold and difficult to pour. This beer was donated, so free beer is good beer.

This was a traditional Mexican wedding, and they had a live band, Conjunto Norteno (714) 979-9369, which played all of the traditional favorites. I do many Mexican weddings and am right at home there. I speak some Spanish, and even though I am a gringo, I love the music and the culture, so don’t be afraid of hiring me. Many of the Mexican weddings remind me of country weddings I attended when I was younger in Wyoming.

Conjunto Norteno

Conjunto Norteno

 

The bride and groom have first dance

The bride and groom have first dance

 

Full bottles waiting to be emptied

Full bottles waiting to be emptied

 

Time for shots!

Time for shots!

 

Next weekend I am doing a birthday party in the city of Los Angeles. I get to stay close to home for a change. I have several dates already filled in April and May. I am looking forward to doing many weddings this summer and hope to pick up some graduation parties and reunions, and of course, pool parties. I would like to fill some Sunday dates in.

Upland New Year’s Eve Party

2 Jan

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of ringing out 2013 and ringing in 2014 bartending at a private residence in Upland. It was a very nice party with about 40 guests in attendance, many wearing black tie and evening gowns. The host had probably the best home bar I have ever seen. The bar itself was brought from England, and he had it fully stocked to cover nearly all bases.

Right before the big toast to 2014

Right before the big toast to 2014

Upland, California

Upland, California

Very nice home bar

Very nice home bar

The specialty cocktail menu we had for the party included Manhattans, Cosmopolitans, Midori Sours, and a champagne cocktail that was made with Cointreau,  brandy, and champagne. I was able to handle almost all requests, and made Long Island Ice Teas, Mai Tais, White Russians, Margaritas, Dirty Martinis, and others. The only thing I wasn’t able to make was a Campari and soda (no Campari).

There were several girls helping out, passing out appetizers and cleaning up, etc. They made my life easier and kept me in clean glassware. Entertainment was provided by classical guitarist, David Adele – he was very good and did one number that was from the soundtrack of “The Deer Hunter,” that was just fantastic. As the clock neared 12:00, we poured champagne for everybody to toast the New Year. The party was a great success.

So, Shaken Not Stirred is entering its second year in business. I would like to thank all of my past clients for their business, and hope I will see all of them again. I have not had one bad experience since I started working on my own. Every person I have worked for has been fantastic, and so have their guests. I am looking forward serving many new people in 2014 all over Southern California. Shaken Not Stirred covers the whole area, from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara, from Santa Clarita to Rancho Santa Fe, and everywhere in between.