Uncategorized, Wedding Bartender

Whispering Rose Ranch Wedding

Bar setup at Whispering Rose Ranch

Shaken Not Stirred traveled to Solvang in Santa Barbara County to bartend a wedding at the beautiful Whispering Rose Ranch. This is the kind of wedding venue that brides dream about – an idyllic setting on a working equestrian property. The location, north of Santa Barbara is at the end of my range, but it was worth it to drive up there, and I hope to return there again.

The Whispering Rose Ranch is a great venue and it also expects alot from its vendors. I had to purchase a $2,000,000 vendor insurance policy for the day from Vendorinsurenow.com, which the client reimbursed me for. This may solve my insurance problem, since Shaken Not Stirred does not have ongoing insurance. Many venues do require it, and this may be a way for me to take those jobs, by purchasing event insurance for a specified date and venue. Crowned Events of San Diego were the wedding coordinators and they were a pleasure to work with.

Deer grazing at Whispering Rose Ranch

I was paid extra to arrive early and bartend at the Groom’s Saloon. At the Whispering Rose Ranch, they have a special saloon, full of western memorabilia where the groom and groomsmen prepare for the wedding. I made a couple of drinks for the guys, but more importantly I helped them tie their neckties. The groom and all of the groomsmen did not know how to tie a necktie and were panicking as they tried to get ready. I was able to tie their neckties for them, and I also helped the father of the bride with his bow tie. I was glad I was able to be of service that way. It’s not all about making drinks.

Guests mingle during Cocktail hour

Whispering Rose Ranch Weddings

  • Beautiful rural setting
  • Groom saloon and bridal cottage
  • Ocean breezes
  • Fantastic photo backdrops
  • Rustic atmosphere
  • Hire a bartender

There were 100 guests in attendance, which is a lot for one bartender. I premade a bunch of drinks so I could quickly pass them out just after the ceremony. The dinner was delayed and cocktail hour went an hour longer than it was supposed to. I completely served out of vodka and whiskey. The wedding coordinators ran to Buellton, a few miles away and bought more to close the night out.


There were no places to stay in the area under $200, so I had to drive back to LA, and needless to say, I was dog tired. I must have made 1000 drinks during the day. I had to get up and do it again the next day, because I had a big wedding to do at the Diamond Bar Center.

Corporate Event, Special Event Bartenders, Uncategorized

Team Building in Santa Barbara

Cruise ship off the Santa Barbara Pier

On Sunday I participated in a team building event at a writer’s retreat in beautiful Santa Barbara. I have done bartending presentations and “classes” on how to make cocktails, but this was my first team building event. It was a great experience for me, and I think for the other participants, and I hope to more of these types of events in the future.

A major literary agency from New York hired me to facilitate the event. The participants, all leading writers with the agency were to create their own special cocktail with my help. I made a shopping list of bar basics and fresh ingredients for the participants to use as building blocks for their new creation. I chose  tequila, rum, vodka, and bourbon as the bases. Simple syrup, bitters, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh pineapple juice, strawberries, cucumbers, and mint leaves made up the rest of the ingredients, along with some club soda and tonic water.

Ingredients for team building cocktail fest

Purpose of Team Building

  • Bind the group
  • Align goals
  • Establish leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Accomplish goals

I explained that I can make several different types of margaritas, daiquiris, sour drinks, and tropical drinks with just those ingredients. The participants came up with a orange mojito as the ice breaker drink. I made those for all of the participants and that got the ideas flowing. The participants finally agreed on a bourbon sour made with bourbon, fresh lemon juice, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and a dash of bitters with a twist garnish. Everyone agreed it was delish.

Team building facilitators at Los Arboles Ranch

I notice when I do these types of things, certain participants quickly establish dominance. Just like with jury duty, a leader usually self appoints. Those participants who don’t speak up will end up going along with whatever the others decide. Maybe that is part of the reason companies do these type of things, to quickly see who the leaders and followers are. I doubt that was the case here, since we were only doing cocktails. As I always say, it’s not brain surgery

The event was held at Los Aboles Ranch in Santa Barbara. This was a fantastic location for a retreat, in a great area. It doesn’t look like much from the front, but wait until you get back into the compound – a perfect mix of privacy and luxury. Vallefresh of Santa Barbara provided the catering. I hope to return again.


Special Event Bartenders, Uncategorized

Hancock Park School Event

Bahama Mama at Hancock Park School Event

Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending services for a school event Saturday night at a private home in Hancock Park. The function was an annual event parents and faculty members of a well known private school in Los Angeles. There were about fifty guests in attendance, and I served drinks as a full moon rose above Los Angeles. Schools organizations often hold events like this so that parents and faculty members can get to know one another, and as fundraisers.

I worked with one of the hosts to make a drink menu and shopping list. I served Bahama Mamas and margaritas. Bahama Mamas are similar to a Mai Tai, and are often served on cruise ships. I remember first trying that drink abord a day cruise from Miami to Freeport, Bahamas. Let me tell you – the drinks go down way too easy and they sneak up on you.

Friends stop for photo in Hancock Park

The catering was provided by Bamboo and they served up some excellent Yukatan chicken, fried plantains and other Caribbean goodies. I love tacos, but they serve them at almost every party I do, and it is nice to see some variety of cuisine at the private events in Los Angeles. There is so much to choose from, when it comes to food in this city.

Parents and faculty members at Hancock Park School Event

School Event in Los Angeles

  • Alumni events
  • Fundraisers
  • Mixers
  • Awards ceremonies

Once I finished the Hancock Park school event, I had to prepare for a team building event I had in Santa Barbara on Sunday. This week I will be bartending at an art fair in Venice on Friday, and then will be doing a repeat performance in Eagle Rock, for a birthday party. May 7th is still open, and then it gets busy with many graduation parties and weddings in May and June.

Full moon over Los Angeles
Birthday Party Bartender, Uncategorized

Santa Barbara 21st Birthday Party

Railroad tracks to Santa Barbara

Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred  traveled to beautiful Santa Barbara to bartend a 21st birthday party. This is the second 21st birthday party I have provided bartending services for and the birthday girl and guests were eager to try a variety of drinks (for the first time).  I don’t go to Santa Barbara often, but always enjoy going there, especially this time of the year when the hills are green from the recent rains. One of the most beautiful areas in California.

For this party, I spoke with the host and her mom several times, planning the drink menu and shopping list. I served Mai Tais, Moscow Mules, and Bay Breezes. There were many twenty somethings in attendance, as well as their parents, and even grand parents. It is nice to see a family throwing a 21st birthday party where all the guests can party in a responsible manner.

Filipino food

21st Birthday Party Ideas

  • Hire a bartender
  • Plan a drink menu
  • Have non alcoholic drink options
  • Invite older family members
  • Have designated drivers

The family put on a big feast of traditional Filipino food, and host was busy restocking the whole time. Throwing a party for 50 or 60 guests is a lot of work, especially if you do the food yourself, which was the case here.  It seems that the next door neighbors were also throwing a party at the same time, so we had competing music.  Towards the end of the night, I served Kamikazes, which are always popular.


I am writing this blog real quick and then getting ready to go to San Francisco this afternoon, on another gig for Geranium Street USA. So far I am not booked for next weekend, but have a couple of prospects. Next month is looking busy for Shaken Not Stirred and I am booked every day from April 2 to April 9th. I just booked one wedding in May, and still have many dates available during that month, so please call me if you need a bartender. Be sure to like us on Facebook.

More Shots!
Birthday Party Bartender, Uncategorized

Bond Themed 60th Birthday Party

Traditional martini waits to go out

It was very fitting that Shaken Not Stirred was the chosen bartending service for a James Bond themed 60th birthday party in Valencia, Saturday night. The event was held at an HOA clubhouse, and these are great venues for residents to take advantage of. There were approximately 80 guests and it was grand party in the tradition of 007.

I set up my portable bar and table outside with the threat of rain in the air. I had worked with the host creating a drink menu of three martinis. The Vesper Martini is the authentic James Bond martini from the books by Ian Fleming. The Vesper is a very strong drink and consists of 2oz of gin, 2oz of vodka, and a dash of Lillet, with a lemon twist. The birthday boy loved the drink and that was what was really important. I also served dirty martinis, pomegranate martinis, and Appletinis.

Guests enjoy martinis at 60th birthday party

The line was building at the bar in the beginning. Making martinis for 80 people is a little labor intensive, but I handled it. They had real martini glasses, which are always nice to work with.  I also served red and white wine, beer and soft drinks. It did start raining as I was working, but my bar was under cover and I didn’t even realize it was raining until there was a break in the action.

60th Birthday Party Ideas

  • Theme parties
  • Casino night
  • Live music
  • Hire a bartender
  • Dancing

    Blackjack at 60th bithday party

The guest of honor wore black tie and looked the part. I guess he and I share the same birthday of March 14th. He was a very lucky man to have such a nice 60th birthday party thrown for him. They had a blackjack table and a craps table set up with dealers, and they had a live musician providing entertainment. They had serving trays with pasta and chicken piccata. The party obviously took a lot of work  to put on, but when it was over, everyone came together and packed it up in a half hour.

The guest of honor and wife

Next weekend  I have a 21st birthday party in Santa Barbara, and then a drink making demonstration just down the road in Carpenteria the next day. I don’t do that many events in Santa Barbara, but it is nice to have two back to back. I like doing the demonstrations, and I will be teaching how to make a Lemon Drop martini, a Manhattan, an Old Fashioned, and a blended drink, the Georgia Peach .

Party Bartenders

New Year’s Eve Party Welcomes in 2016

"The Last Word" cocktail
“The Last Word” cocktail

Thursday night, Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending service for a New Year’s Eve party in Sherman Oaks, ringing out 2015. The party was the perfect event to end the year on, and begin the new one. 2015 was a great year for Shaken Not Stirred, and we have increased our client list considerably. December was one of the busiest months we have had, and for that I am very grateful. One of the highlights was when Shaken Not Stirred was chosen Number 1 Bar Caterer in Los Angeles for 2015, by Thumbtack.

The New Year’s Eve party was something I booked a couple of months ago, and I had at least 30 requests since then for New Year’s Eve. I think the first year I was in business I didn’t even get a New Year’s Eve party. It seems that many people are opting to have parties at home, rather than go out and get gouged. I charge more for New Year’s Eve than other nights, but even so, I think the host was able to do their whole for party for 30 people, food and beverages included for under $1,000. I remember once, when I was married my wife and I went to a NYE party in Malibu, and spent that much for the two of us.

The party had a Prohibition era theme, and I made several cocktails from that period that the host chose. The cocktail menu included the Last Word, Mint Julep, Fleur di Paradis, Whiskey Sour, and the Old Fashioned. The Fleur di Paradis turned out to be the big favorite of the night. The drink calls for gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, St Geramine liqueur, and a champagne topper.

Guests dressed in their Prohibition era best
Guests dressed in their Prohibition era best

My daughter, Pia helped me out, and this is the third or fourth party she has helped me with. She will have a full time job soon and probably won’t be able to assist me much next year. It’s a shame, because some of the guests mentioned what a cool duo we make. I have several other good servers and bartenders available to help me also.

Goodbye 2015!
Goodbye 2015!

This month, January is looking slow, so far – I have a couple of parties booked. Last year in January I did 6 events, and hope I will have at least that many this month. Last month, I was able to do most of my parties in the San Fernando Valley, but I have a feeling I will be traveling during these slow months, and that means, Palm Springs, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Bakersfield. Shaken Not Stirred looks forward to a record year in 2016. Bring it on!

Hello 2016!
Hello 2016!
Wedding Bartender

Los Olivos Wedding

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!

Party Bartenders, Special Event Bartenders, Wedding Bartender

Santa Barbara Wedding Reception

Saturday Shaken Not Stirred was at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry to bartend a wedding reception. The Santa Barbara Art Foundry is an art gallery with an actual foundry on the premises, which also doubles as a very cool event venue. I took my son with me to help and we served a nice crowd of 150 people right up until one AM. We were slammed most of that time and we ran out of several things – but we always had options, including Bulleit

Santa Barbara Art Foundry
Santa Barbara Art Foundry
Willie pours a drink
Willie pours a drink
"Are they related?"
“Are they related?”

Rye Whiskey, Bulleit Bourbon, Knob Creek Bourbon, Stoli Vodka, and several different brands of top shelf tequila.

The Art Foundry is on Santa Barbara Street just a few blocks from the pier. It’s been years since I’ve been down to that area and it has transformed into a really cool area populated by hip restaurants, wine bars, and art galleries. I wish I would have taken some pictures because it really is picturesque. It was unusually hot for a beach community and must have been in the high eighties with no breeze at all when we arrived. It was sweltering inside the art gallery for most of the time we were bartending and we barely came up for air from the time we arrived until the last call.

There were some nice people helping us when we arrived, bringing us supplies, etc. I wondered where the bride and groom were and assumed that they were getting married at another location and would arrive later in full wedding regalia with the rest of the wedding procession. Well, it turns out the people helping us set up were the bride and groom. They had gotten married at a small ceremony at an earlier date and were having the reception for friends. I felt like fool – “Yeah, just put those boxes over there, I told them dismissively,”….

My son did a great job and I definitely needed him. He makes up in personality where I am lacking., and I admit I can get grouchy when the heat is on. He made some martinis and jumped right in there making Cadillac Margaritas, Manhattans, Vodka Tonics, and Dirty Shirleys. We had to keep stocking beer and white wine and finally ran completely out of white wine and almost out of red. We had just enough ice to make through the night, and when it is hot ice goes fast, as does beer. The days will likely get hotter and hotter in Southern California all the way until October. Next weekend I am traveling to Palm Springs for a birthday party, and then the following weekend I will stay close to home doing an anniversary party in Encino.

Mobile Bartenders, Party Bartenders, Wedding Bartender

Mobile Bartending on the Fourth of July Weekend

Shaken Not Stirred was in true mobile bartending mode this Fourth of July weekend and did two parties in Orange County – a Fourth of July party in Newport Beach on Friday and a Santa Ana wedding on Saturday. I spent two days in San Diego on other business last week, then traveled to Newport Beach to bartend a Fourth of July party.

I was worried all week that getting in and out of Newport Beach was going to be a nightmare, but it was surprisingly easy. The hosts provided me a parking space in their garage. Everybody knows that beach parking on the Fourth of July is impossible. Most of the guests at the party were locals and arrived via beach cruiser. There were around 30 guests in attendance and it was a very nice low key party in a fantastic house.

I served three nice vintage cabernets – a 93’ Cakebread, a 98’ Chimney Rock, and a 96’ Von Strasser. I don’t usually serve a lot of red wine at summer parties, but this crowd couldn’t resist these three excellent wines. They had fun tasting all three and comparing. The Von Strasser proved to be the crowd favorite. By the end of the party all three bottles were empty. I served a few martinis and made Lemon Drops using fresh lemon juice from lemons in my back yard. The party abruptly ended as the guests left to watch the fireworks. I got top see most of the show as I was driving out of there.

I stayed at the Wyndam in Irvine and got a very good deal through Priceline

Fireworks over Newport Beach
Fireworks over Newport Beach
Vintage Cabs
Vintage Cabs
Guests enjoying the Fourth of July
Guests enjoying the Fourth of July
Tennis Court turned into wedding venue
Tennis Court turned into wedding venue
Mariachis waiting in the shade
Mariachis waiting in the shade

– where I named my own price. There is no reason to stay at the Motel 6, ever. I did a wedding the next day in the hills of Santa Ana. It is a very nice area off of the 55 freeway in the hills where I have never been before. There are some incredible houses up there and the wedding was held at one of them.

They had the tennis court converted into a super wedding venue for 200 guests. We had two bars set up, one above in the pool area, and another on the tennis court. Mia was helping me and she took the upstairs bar. There were at least 50 kids in attendance, so we spent plenty of time refilling sodas. Cadillac Margaritas were a big hit, and we also did Jaeger bombs, Patron shots, and Fireball shooters. The wedding planner abandoned ship halfway through along with three of the servers, as they ran out of food before everyone was served. Thankfully, she didn’t hire me and I was hired directly by the host. When I heard how much money they had paid her, I was thinking I should become a wedding planner. A friend explained to me why that would not be a good idea and I quickly came back to reality.

Next weekend I have another big wedding to do in Santa Barbara and I am taking my son, Willie to help me. I have several more weddings booked during the rest of the summer all over Southern California, and a few birthday parties. It has been a great summer for Shaken Not Stirred.

Mobile Bartenders, Special Event Bartenders

North Hollywood MMA Exhibition Event

I did an event yesterday close to home in North Hollywood at a boxing/MMA gym. My client hosted an event to showcase a particular style of stick fighting that is certain to become popular. He contacted me after seeing my Yelp profile, which was my first job via Yelp. I have a couple of Yelp reviews, which I am very appreciative that the people took time to write. People often say that they will write reviews and then they get busy and forget about it. Fortunately, I have no bad reviews – those people always take time to write.

My purpose at this particular event was to serve the people who were invited to event beer and wine. We set up in the parking lot and set up the portable bar and a tent for the appetizers. My client purchased appetizers from Le Pain Quotidien of Larchmont Village, (which I don’t know how to pronounce) that were very classy. I served Heineken, Stella Artois, Bud Light, and Estancia wine. Estancia is a very good wine that you can purchase for about $10 a bottle. We once did a wine tasting with Estancia wines at a restaurant I worked at, and we used it as a house wine.

Portable bar set up in North Hollywood
Portable bar set up in North Hollywood
Appetizer spread from Le Pain Quotidien
Appetizer spread from Le Pain Quotidien
Guests mingling after exhibition
Guests mingling after exhibition

The event was very easy and I assume it was a success for my client, and it was definitely a success for Shaken Not Stirred. Today I am preparing for a wedding in Valencia. The wedding was booked months ago and is finally happening today. I am taking two servers with me. The catering at these events is usually buffet style and self serve, but people want extra servers on hand to clear tables and help with the cake, etc. I will bartend and one of the servers will probably assist me as a barback during the initial drink rush just after the ceremony. My philosophy is to be of maximum service to whoever hires me, so they can enjoy themselves and not worry about the minute details.

I booked a birthday party/Cinco De Mayo next weekend in Sherman Oaks, also close to home. It is very nice driving five or ten minutes to an event, but I love going to Palm Springs, Orange County, the far reaches of Los Angeles County, and Santa Barbara also. I will get the chance later this summer because I have weddings and events booked in all of those places. Later this month I will be bartending a wedding in Fillmore, where I have never been. The cool thing about being a mobile bartender is that I get to go to new places all the time and meet new people. Never a dull moment in the event bartender business!

So far the month of August is still pretty open, so I am going to aggressively try to get some gigs for that month. I have the portable bar now and will make that available for a very reasonable rate. I need some reunions, pool parties, and graduation parties to round out the summer.