Tag Archives: surprise party

West Hills Surprise Birthday Party

13 Feb
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West Hills, CA

Saturday night I traveled across the San Fernando Valley to bartend a surprise birthday party in West Hills. A proud father planned the event for his son’s 25th birthday party, and I think the event went off exactly as planned – the son was genuinely surprised and touched, and everybody had a great time. I always like doing surprise parties, and as I have said before anybody who gets one thrown for them, is truly blessed.

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Guests anxiously waiting

I have been neglecting this blog since the busy holiday season, and it’s time to get back to basics. I built my business up with internet marketing and now that I am getting many referrals and much repeat business, I have gotten lazy about doing the things that made my business successful in the first place. Since I started Shaken Not Stirred, I have completed close to 500 private events.

This surprise birthday party was held at the family’s brand new home in West Hills at the far northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. The house was located at the end of a cul de sac and my first comment to the host was, “He’s going to see all these cars here and will immediately know what’s going on.” Naturally the host had already thought of that. I unloaded my portable and bar and moved my car back up the street, as all the guests were instructed to do.

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Don Julio 1942

Surprise Birthday Party Ideas

  • Plan a diversion to fool the guest of honor
  • Invite a wide range of people
  • Hire a bartender
  • Serve great food
  • Play great music

I set up my portable bar in the backyard and the guests started arriving about 5pm. The guest of honor was due to arrive at 5:30. He was told they were going to dinner in Beverly Hills. Everyone got into place and the birthday boy arrived right on time and got the surprise of his life. By the way, the guest of honor is a pro football player for the Arizona Cardinals. He was truly touched, and his father was so proud. I served simple mixed drinks to around fifty drinks and everybody had a good time.

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Shots!

February tends to be my slowest month of the year.  So far I only have one event scheduled for this week on Saturday in Mission Hills. Next week I will go to Palm Springs on Friday, and then turn right around to do a birthday party in Redondo Beach on Saturday. March is very busy with several weddings already scheduled all over the place. I will be doing a lot of traveling in March. Please follow us on Instagram.

Bartender for Hire Does Three More February Events

20 Feb

Last weekend Shaken Not Stirred, the Los Angeles bartender for hire went on the road again and bartended two Orange County Events, and a San Fernando Valley bar mitzva. On Friday, the biggest rainstorm to hit Socal in years rolled in and I left plenty early to bartend a San Juan Capistrano wedding, then on Saturday I stayed in the area to bartend a 40th surprise birthday party. I drove back to the SFV and did a Van Nuys Bar Mitzvah on Sunday.

San Juan Capistrano Wedding

I got hired to do the San Juan Capistrano wedding only a couple of weeks before the event. Weddings are usually planned months in advance. The original bartender cancelled for some reason. The bride said that he had a very good reason – I hope so, because I have never cancelled an event. The bride wanted me to bring the ice, and that is usually not a problem, but the rain storm on Friday made everything very difficult. I looked on the map before I left hoping to find a supermarket nearby to buy the ice. There was nothing around. I was a bit stressed thinking I was going to be late, but I found the ice at a gas station nearby.

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Intimate home wedding

The bride and groom had rented a very nice home on the golf course for the wedding. I set up my portable bar inside the house as the rain storm raged outside. It was a small ceremony with around 50 friends and family members in attendance. They did the ceremony in the living room. I served simple mixed drinks and everything went smoothly.

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Shots!

Laguna Niguel Surprise 40th Birthday Party

On Saturday I bartended a disco themed 40th surprise birthday party in Laguna Niguel. The host told me it would be a small group and that they would be wearing disco costumes. I guess I wasn’t paying attention, or I would have come up with some kind of costume. When people started arriving it became clear to me that this was a real costume party I was the fool without a costume. Thankfully, the DJ (who didn’t have a card) had an extra wig and pair of retro sunglasses. I had a makeshift costume, but some of the guests went all out. The DJ played all disco themed/70’s music and it was great. It quickly turned into a rip roarin’ party! It was a really good time and a much bigger party than I was expecting.

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Disco themed 40th birthday party

I always think it is a great thing when an adult gets a party thrown for them. It made me decide to throw a birthday party for my kids which is coming up in April. Life is short, and these things are great highlights of one’s existence.

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Bartender in disguise

Bartender for Hire Advantages

  • Enjoy the party without worrying about bar
  • Bartender keeps area clean
  • Bartender helps with menu and shopping list
  • Guests are impressed.

Van Nuys Bar Mitzvah

On Sunday I went a couple miles from my home to warehouse in Van Nuys where they were holding a Bar Mitzvah for a 13 year olds rite of passage. I have not done too many of these parties, but I am always impressed when I do. I think this is a very important landmark in a young person’s life, and I am sorry I didn’t have one, and my kids didn’t have one. We (non Jews) have nothing like this and we are often left twisting in the wind with no direction at age 13. First of all, it shows the young person that they are very loved by all their friends and family, but also that they have a responsibility for their life and development. The young man at this Bar Mitzvah was very sweet and made a wonderful speech in front of 80 guests and didn’t seem a bit nervous. I’m sure he will go far in life.

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Wild lights at Van Nuys Bar Mitzvah

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Family members pose for picture

So far the bartender for hire has nothing scheduled for next weekend, but that will surely change. I have several events coming up in March, including a wedding in Palm Springs, birthday party in Hermosa Beach, another in Walnut, and another in Indian Wells. If you haven’t followed us on Facebook, please do.

Two Birthday Parties in One Day

16 Nov
The birthday girl and I

The birthday girl and I

On Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred was the official bartending service at two big birthday parties in Los Angeles. The first big event was an 80th birthday party in Venice that started at noon, and then the second event was a surprise birthday party in Glendale that went on until midnight. Needless to say, I mixed a bunch of drinks that day.

The 80th birthday party was put on by the birthday girl’s son on the rooftop deck of her Venice home. The lady had lived in the house for over forty years and just recently installed the rooftop deck. It was a perfect day for the party in Venice and sun was shining and an ocean breeze blew in from the Pacific just a few blocks away. They had also installed a simple wooden rooftop bar and it was perfect for my purposes.

Guests enjoying rooftop deck

Guests enjoying rooftop deck

In honor of the birthday girl, whose name was Fleur, the host requested a classic cocktail, the Fleur di Paradis.  The drink is made with Plymouth Gin, St. Germaine, fresh lemon juice, simple syup and champagne. The drink was such a hit, that we served out of it. I invented another cocktail on the spot and deemed it the Boccacio, in honor of the street the party was on.  The Boccacio is a simple drink but with a velvety taste:  Tito’s Vodka, coconut water, and a splash of orange juice.  It was also a hit. Let it be known that Shaken Not Stirred of Los Angeles invented that drink.

Jason Arimoto with special guest star

Jason Arimoto with special guest star

Entertainment was provided by a very talented ukulele artist and singer Jason Arimoto. He sang for at least three hours straight and then packed up to go and do another party. Slinging drinks for eight hours is tough, but imagine singing for six hours in one day.

I packed up from the first party and drove to Glendale to bartend a surprise birthday party at a beautiful Chevy Chase home.  I sat up my portable bar in the back yard, and served simple Cosmos, Black Lable on the rocks, and wine.  The caterers had a fabulous selection of finger foods and I regret not getting their card, because they really were fabulous.

Fantastic feast in Glendale

Fantastic feast in Glendale

The birthday girl was truly surprised when she walked in the door and was greeted by fifty of her family members and friends.  I kept busy pouring drinks and ran out of Grey Goose. Of course, there are liquor stores that deliver and we received a replacement batch. Two successful events in one day.

On Wednesday, I will return to Venice to bartend a large company party, with extra staff, and then on Saturday will be in the San Fernando Valley in Reseda to bartend another big birthday party.  I still have Saturday, 11/28 available if you need a bartender for that date.

Guests mingle in Glendale

Guests mingle in Glendale

Los Angeles Private Bartender Does 4 Events in 4 Days

10 Aug
Guests mingle at Hollywood event

Guests mingle at Hollywood event

The Los Angeles private bartender service, Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending at four different events in LA last weekend. Thursday night there was a corporate event at a post production facility in Hollywood, then on Saturday, a 30th birthday party in Marina Dell Rey, and wrapping up the weekend was a surprise pool party in Culver City. This was a rare weekend when Shaken Not Stirred did not have to leave Los Angeles County.

I was hired by a party planner to do the corporate event in Hollywood.  They had some special requests and wanted me to make a Jicama Cucumber margarita mix, which I had never done before. They gave me the recipe and I got it done, and I think the drink was a hit at the party. If you have a special request for any kind of mixer like this, please ask me. I will try to accommodate you.

I have now done several special events for production companies, studio executives, and television productions her in the Los Angeles area. I am starting to run into some of the same people over and over again. Of course, this is good for me, because I now have many references within the film and television community. Of course, we all know, it is “who you know,” in that industry. In fact, I had to send one of my other bartenders out to bartend a screening party in Century City for one of my best clients that same night.

My daughter cocktailing

My daughter cocktailing

On Saturday, I traveled to Marina Del Rey to bartend a 30th birthday party. They had the party at the community room overlooking the pool at their apartment building. It was a excellent place to hold the party and the weather was perfect. I took my daughter to be may cocktail waitress/server and she did an excellent job. I was very proud of her and I think the hosts were very happy with her service. I hope to take her with me on many more events.

Shots!

Shots!

On Sunday, I was the Los Angeles private bartender hired to service a surprise birthday party in Culver City. The host held this party at the pool in her apartment complex. Once again, this worked out quite nicely, even though it was very windy while we were setting up. The host was throwing a party in honor of her girlfriend’s big success with her Youtube Channel. She reached over 200,000 subscribers.

Great location in Marina Del Rey

Great location in Marina Del Rey

Turning 30

Turning 30

The girlfriend was quite pleasantly surprised and it was a great little party with approximately 20 guests. I made Pisco Sours, and the Brazilian favorite, Caipirinha. It was my first time making both of those drinks and I think they were a hit with the limited number of guests.  Next weekend, so far I am only scheduled for Saturday night in the Inland Empire. I hope to pick up some corporate event, or perhaps a cocktail party on Friday night.

It's a tough job...

It’s a tough job…

Chillin' by the pool in Culver City

Chillin’ by the pool in Culver City

Altadena Surprise Party and Bakersfield Wedding

23 Jun
Getting "surprised"

Getting “surprised”

Friday started the weekend in Altadena for Shaken Not Stirred, where I traveled to bartend for a surprise party. The father hired me for his son’s 35th birthday surprise birthday, and it was martini themed party.  Friends and family gathered in the backyard, while the one of the birthday boy’s friends took him out to distract him long enough for us to get ready. I think he was truly surprised and overwhelmed when he did arrive.

I made Manhattans, dirty vodka martinis, gin martinis, and Lemon Drops. I brought my own martini glasses and they had several. It is always a pleasure for me to make martinis and serve them in real glassware. The presentation is just so much nicer. The birthday boy’s father manned the barbeque and made some killer trip tip.

Guests enjoying martinis in Altadena

Guests enjoying martinis in Altadena

For this job, I did all the shopping . It is a service I offer for a fee. I will buy everything you need, including all the alcohol, mixers, cups, straws, napkins and ice. I require an up front deposit for this, plus the service charge. People have trusted me with hundreds of dollars for this and I have never done them wrong. I have an excellent reputation and don’t want to jeopardize it one bit.

Saturday, I traveled to Bakersfield for my second wedding in Kern County. I also did the shopping for this wedding, and spent most of my day Saturday getting all the supplies together for a 100 person wedding. The wedding was held at the Junior League of Bakersfield. It is a historic building in downtown Bakersfield. I set up my portable bar in the corner of the dining room.

I served Mojitos, Margaritas, and various vodka drinks to the guests.  When serving Mojitos to a large crowd like this, I make a large batch, and serve them that way. I also get several drinks ready as the ceremony is taking place, so that when everybody rushes in afterward, I can make the line go fast. It is ideal to have a barback, but I handled the 100 person  Bakersfield wedding by myself just fine.

Junior League of Bakersfield wedding

Junior League of Bakersfield wedding

Everything went pretty well until the last five minutes, when friends and family were cleaning up the dining room. Some drama broke out among some of the guests outside. The bride looked at me and rolled her eyes, “We almost made it without something like that happening. We almost made it,” she said.  It seems that machismo and alcohol don’t always mix. Believe me, nobody knows that better than me. Kevin Rush was the DJ and he helped to diffuse the situation. I can see that he is a true pro and dealing with situations like that, and also did a very good job of DJing and running the wedding program for the night.

This weekend I have an engagement party in Porter Ranch, and then a Fourth of July party coming up in Orange County.  I still have a few dates open in July, so book your parties now.

Shots!

Shots!

Alhambra Surprise 40th Birthday Party

26 Apr

An ongoing drought in California

Guest bartender

Guest bartender

threatens the very existence of the state, yet on the day a woman schedules a surprise 40th birthday party for her husband, it rains cats and dogs. Well, that is an over exaggeration, rain messed things up for the surprise birthday party, but didn’t stop it. The host had tents set up in the backyard that kept most people dry. I had my own tent for the bar, and caterers had a tent.

The birthday boy had gone fishing and arrived home early because of the rain, so he wasn’t given the proper surprise cheer, but I saw his face as he realized they were having a party in his honor. I have said this before, but any man who has a surprise birthday party thrown for him is a lucky, and loved man. His wife had done extensive planning for this party, and hired a bartender (me), a DJ, and a caterer.

The caterer, Tacos Chicuas (213) 590-8209, provided tacos and quesadillas that were way above average.  I think their technique using a rotisserie cooker made the meat exceptionally tasty.  They had some incredible beans and a great selection of salsas. DJ Tossing T and MC JT provided the entertainment.  For a  surprise  40th birthday party, everything was top notch.

Tacos Chicuas with rotisserie cooker

Tacos Chicuas with rotisserie cooker

I served many pineapple based drinks, and the favorite of the night was the Buccanus, which was Buchannan Irish Whisky, pineapple juice, and grenadine, with a cherry garnish. This is the favorite of the birthday boy, and the trend caught on. I also served cucumber margaritas, and many Malibu and pineapples.

While I was bartending in Alhambra, I had another bartender doing at event at a television Studio in Glassel Park. He served beer and wine for about 100 people in the green room at a television production. I will go there again Thursday night. I have contracted with the production company to bartend at several of their tapings. Next Friday I will be bartending a fundraiser in La Canada, and then bartending at a party in Porter Ranch next Saturday night.

"You talkin' to me?"

“You talkin’ to me?”

Two Nights, Two Holiday Parties, One Bartender in La Canada

19 Dec
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La Canada, California in December

As the Holiday season heats up, I was the bartender on hand at two weekday holiday parties at a spectacular residence in La Canada. I had bartended at the house before and was pleasantly surprised when they called me to bartend their back to back holiday parties. The first party, on Wednesday night was a school fundraiser, Christmas sweater party for about 40 ladies. The second party was a client appreciation holiday party and was attended by around 70 guests.

Christmas sweater competition

Christmas sweater competition

We had the same specialty drinks two nights in a row, but just changed the names to reflect the event. My new specialty drink, “Santa’s Syrup,” was dubbed “Closed Escrow” at the Thursday night party. It is made with bourbon, ginger syrup, club soda, and a dash of bitters. The drink was so popular that we ran out of Jack Daniels.  I substituted Hennesy, and I heard people say that was even better. The home made ginger syrup mixes well with everything, and one of the other specialty drinks was made with tequila, ginger syrup, and fresh lime juice. The liquor flowed in La Canada, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

"Closed Escrow" cocktail

“Closed Escrow” cocktail

This was one example of a party that I was called for on the last minute and I love it. I will do events tomorrow all day long if you call me tonight. Speaking of tomorrow, I am traveling to Corona to bartend a surprise 40th birthday party. The host has been very anxious trying to arrange everything just right and not spoil the surprise. I hope everything meets her expectations.

Speaking of expectations, I find myself getting a bit of stage fright leading up to an event. I anticipate many things that could go wrong. I think that anxiety is somewhat healthy and keeps me sharp so that I am super prepared. Bartending isn’t brain surgery, and being prepared and on time is ninety percent of it. So far I have a perfect track record on those two things.

Holiday party bar

Holiday party bar

Los Angeles Bartender Available New Year’s Eve.

I still have New Year’s Eve open and it is kind of my fault. I assumed I had a party, but should have checked in about it a month ago. The people who said that they would want me, are not having their party this year. So, I passed up other offers, thinking that was in the bag. Totally my fault, but I am positive I will get something and am excited to see where this year will take me. Could be anywhere in Southern California. I’m looking forward to another great year with Shaken Not Stirred.

30th Surprise Birthday Party in Hollywood

4 May

Last night I was hired to bartend a surprise 30th birthday party at the Women’s Club of Hollywood on Labrea, just south of Franklin. The Women’s Club of Hollywood is a historic building in Hollywood and has a rich history since 1913. Such Hollywood legends as Charlie Chaplin, Jean Harlow, and Joan Crawford were all connected to the club, and one of Charlie Chaplin’s grand pianos still sits in the building. The club now rents the building out for events. Last night’s occasion was the surprise birthday party.

The guest of honor was arriving at LAX and had no idea of the party. Her family members, including her husband, in the from the DC area were busy decorating the place making it special for her. Although the party was scheduled for five pm, her flight was delayed and with traffic she didn’t arrive until almost 8pm. She was naturally very surprised to see all of her friends and family members there all dressed up for the occasion.

I served Mai Tais, Bay Breeze’s, Hennesy, and Coronas. The caterer put out a great spread of soul food which included some barbecued sausages, and chicken wings that were just incredible. Dwayne Estero

Women's Club of Hollywood

Women’s Club of Hollywood

Setting up the party inside club

Setting up the party inside club

The birthday cake

The birthday cake

Dance floor

Dance floor

was the DJ and he had some huge speakers that were capable of blasting the whole building down, and he says he has a whole bank of them if needed. After the group ate and gave some nice speeches honoring the birthday girl, the dance floor heated up.

70 people had RSVP’d and confirmed. Only about 35 showed up and the hosts were naturally upset. They had spent considerable money putting on this party. I felt bad for them. The truth is – it is hard to get people to drive across Los Angeles for any occasion, but why say you are going to go if you are not? The people that were there had a good time.

This was the third party I had contracted to do for this date. The first party I received a party for was a Cinco De Mayo party in Sherman Oaks, and the host contacted me a week before and cancelled do to illness. Then I got a call out of the blue from a Google search to do a big party in Santa Monica. Their original bartender cancelled on them last minute and they wanted me to purchase all of the supplies. I was very excited to do the event and then they called me and cancelled. I was bummed, but then I got the Hollywood birthday party the day of. Everything worked out. Next weekend, I will bartend another surprise birthday party in Torrance.