Tag Archives: Torrance

Torrance 40th Birthday Party

16 Apr
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Succulents adorn Torrance backyard

Last night, Shaken Not Stirred provided bartending service for a 40th birthday party in Torrance. The South Bay is my old stomping ground, and the parties in the South Bay tend to be ragers. This party was no exception, as the birthday boy rang in his 40th year in true South Bay style. Let’s just say that I served a bunch of vodka, tequila, single malt scotch, and even moonshine. It was some of that moonshine they are selling in the mason jars at the liquor stores, but it is still 100 proof.  I once drank real backwoods moonshine from Tennessee, and I woke up driving through Tijuana.

Backyard 40th  Birthday Party Ideas

  • Hire an experienced bartender
  • Hire a caterer
  • Make a theme
  • Offer specialty cocktails

The hosts had a very nice back deck that was adorned with dozens of beautiful succulents. This was a neighborhood in Torrance bordering Redondo Beach and there was a great view from the backyard of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and Redondo Beach in the near distance. The weather was perfect for a backyard party, and they had a nice bar and barbecue area, and a fire pit.

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Succulents adorn Torrance backyard

Sierra Madre Catering provided the food, and they had all kinds of interesting goodies, including mac and cheese, refried beans, pulled pork sliders, mini Philly Cheese steaks, and more. Servers kept roaming the crowd with trays of goodies all night. I served my fresh grapefruit drinks, Palomas and Greyhounds. Single Malt scotch was quite popular and many of the guests brought some nice bottles of liquor to the party and some of them were consumed.

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Shots!

Tonight, I am staying in the San Fernando Valley to bartend a Southern themed birthday party in Encino.  I am making some drinks I have never made before for that one, so I need to study up. Next weekend I have a party booked in Hancock Park, and then later in the month I have events in Eagle Rock, and will be doing a special event at the Venice Art Fair that I am excited about.

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Moonshine!

La Quinta Backyard Wedding

11 Apr
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A threat of rain for a backyard wedding

Saturday, Shaken Not Stirred was in La Quinta to provide bartending service for a backyard wedding and reception. The whole Coachella Valley is full of rental houses that are perfect for doing these kinds of events. This particular property where the wedding was held is called the Mountain View Retreat, and it was perfect for a wedding of this size. The ceremony was held in one section of the backyard, and the dinner and reception was held on another part of the property.

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Backyard wedding ceremony

I worked with the bride through emails planning the drink menu and shopping list. We came up with one drink, which we called the “Ziggy Stardust”, that had mescal, fresh grapefruit juice, and simple syrup. I also did the Sazerac cocktail, which we called the “Major Tom”. A third cocktail was champagne with St. Germain. Approximately 50 guests enjoyed the wedding and reception at the Mountain View retreat. Once again, there was a threat of rain, which would have really caused problems, but it didn’t materialize.

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Bar menu for backyard wedding

F10 Catering of Palm Springs provided the catering for the backyard wedding. They served a gourmet 4 course meal to the guests who were seated at tables on the lawn. F10 Catering is connected to the restaurant, Cheeky’s in Palm Springs. If you have not eaten at Cheeky’s I urge you to try it – it is that restaurant on Palm Canyon where you always see a line of people standing on the sidewalk, waiting to get in. One indication of how good the food was. Kris Holmes provided DJ Service, and I must say he had a unique playlist, which was very good, and he didn’t play the standard clichés that all Dj’s insist on playing.

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Absinthe for Sazerac Cocktail

Backyard Wedding Advantages

  • Save money compared to a hotel
  • Hire your own vendors
  • Provide your own alcohol and supplies
  • More privacy and freedom
  • Unique settings

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    The bride and friends

Next weekend I will stay in the Los Angeles area for two birthday parties. On Friday I will return to the South Bay to bartend a birthday party in Torrance, and then on Saturday I will bartend a Southern themed party in Encino. I just booked an art fair in Venice later this month, and will return to Eagle Rock for a repeat client party.

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Shots!

 

The Pre-Wedding Cocktail Party

10 Apr
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Legacy Villas in La Quinta

On Friday I drove to La Quinta to bartend a pre-wedding cocktail party at Legacy Villas in La Quinta. The forecast called for showers, and the sky was brooding, but so far this season I have gotten lucky every time with my outdoor parties. The cocktail party had 125 guests and I was there to bartend it alone.  I set up my portable bar in the courtyard of the Legacy Villas clubhouse.

Many of these weddings I have done recently have guests coming in from all over the country and they make a weekend of it. They usually have a party on Friday night, and then the wedding on Saturday, with a reception, and then a pool party on Sunday before everyone goes back home on Monday. The Palm Springs area is perfect for this kind of thing, and many of the rental homes available are set up for it.

For this particular pre-wedding cocktail party, I served regular margaritas, and spicy jalapeno margaritas. They way I was able to do that for a party with this many people, was to premake the margaritas in beverage dispensers. That worked pretty well, and then the guests self served their beer, and I served wine, soft drinks and some standard vodka drinks.

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Pre-made margaritas in La Quinta

The line was long and revolving, and by the end I completely served out of wine and beer, and there was very little tequila and vodka left. Everything ran out about fifteen minutes before the party was to end, so I guess it worked out fine. I had made a shopping list for the host, and the budget for all beverages and cups was just over $500.

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Portable bar in courtyard

Pre-Wedding Cocktail Party Ideas

  • Usually the day before the wedding
  • More casual
  • Shorter than the reception
  • Simple drinks
  • Hire a bartender

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    Friends enjoying pre-wedding cocktail party

It was a fast three hours, and I quickly packed up, because on Saturday , Shaken Not Stirred had contracted to provide bartending services to a wedding, also in La Quinta. As I have mentioned many times, I love going out to Coachella Valley to bartend, and I am sure I will return many times.  I do need some reviews on my Palm Springs Yelp page that I just started. Next weekend I have a birthday party booked in Torrance on Friday, and then a Southern themed birthday party in Encino on Saturday.

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Clubhouse courtyard perfect for hosting parties

Torrance and Coachella Wedding Parties

26 Oct
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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

Off the Hook: Southbay 30th Birthday Celebration

11 May

I returned to the Southbay last night to bartend a 30th birthday party in Torrance. The house where the party was held used to be a bachelor’s “party house,” where three or four guys used to live together and have wild parties all the time, and then life happened, including wives and kids. It’s hard growing up, believe me, I know from experience! Anyway, this place had the best garage bar I have ever seen – it was almost as good as Pat’s II, with a real full length bar and beer refrigerator. It reminded me of that old country song – “I’d like to Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home.”

The occasion was a one of the former bachelor’s 30th birthday party. It was the second 30th birthday party I have done in two weeks, and it is an important milestone. I think people really have some kind of expectation and are especially hard on themselves when they are turning 30. I know I was. The birthday boy’s family turned out en masse for the celebration and there were a lot of them because he has 12 brothers and sisters and their families.

The family catered their own event and the food was excellent. I will have to say that was some of the best salsa I have ever tasted. After everybody ate and some of the families with small children went home, the core crew and group of friends really cut loose. They had a cigar sampling and I served Strawberry Margaritas, Cosmos, and a whole bunch of Jack Daniels. Jack seems to be a favorite at almost every party I do, and I almost always run out of it.  Some of the guests brought a bottle of Ron Zacapa 23 year old Guatemalan rum and I served chilled shots of that.  I finally returned from the Southbay after one AM, and it was another successful party for Shaken Not Stirred.

Last week was kind of a tough week for me with the business of bartending. I had some cancellations, and people drop out that I had been working hard to book parties with. It just seemed that everything was going wrong. I know that will change. I have been very lucky with this bartending business so far and have had nothing but good experiences with the jobs I have done. I have another party back in the Southbay

Torrance garage bar

Torrance garage bar

Well stocked beer refrigerator

Well stocked beer refrigerator

Smoking is allowed!

Smoking is allowed!

in Palos Verdes next week, and a wedding in Filmore later this month. I am still available on the the May 31, and hope to get event for that date.

 

Storybook Backyard Wedding in Valencia

27 Apr

The backyard wedding in Valencia last night couldn’t have been much better. If you were ask 100 brides where they would rather be married if cost was no concern – the Bel Aire Hotel, or their parents backyard, how many do you think would choose the backyard? I think in this case, the backyard wedding was as close to perfect as it could be. The setup was great, the food was fantastic, great music, super nice people, mild weather, and of course, excellent bartending provided by Shaken Not Stirred.

I may want to add that this was a typical backyard in Southern California, not some huge estate. This goes to show what is possible when planning a backyard wedding. The costs of the wedding have to be significantly cheaper, even after you hire the various vendors, including the DJ, the photo booth, the caterer, wedding planner, photographer, and bartender. I think the guests have a much better time than they would in some stuffy venue like a hotel.

There were at least 100 people in attendance and the bar was busy right from the beginning. The bride and groom had decided on the bar selection before they ever talked to me. They decided that they would offer one cocktail, beer and wine. The cocktail they chose and aptly named the “John Daly 

Backyard wedding setup

Backyard wedding setup

Bride and groom have first dance

Bride and groom have first dance

Shaken Not Stirred on the point

Shaken Not Stirred on the point

John Daly - I had to include this!

John Daly – I had to include this!

,” was made with Seagram’s Sweet Tea infused vodka and lemonade. It didn’t sound too good to me, but it was a huge hit! What do I know? We went through 4 handles of the infused vodka and one of the guests went out and bought four more. We served three separate flavors of Kona Beer: Longboard Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, and the I.P.A. We ran out of everything but the I.P.A.

Sticking to the Southern theme, Dr.s Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas Barbecue of Van Nuys catered the event and the food was fantastic! Highly recommended. I want to mention the speeches given by the father of the bride and the father of the groom. The father of the bride (who hosted the wedding) was very funny and almost like a professional comedian. I later asked him if he was a comedian and he said he just does a lot of public speaking. The father of the groom had traveled from Virginia and was a down home southern gentleman. His speech was particularly poignant and touching. I even found my hard hearted self getting emotional! The bride and groom looked so happy together. It was truly a memorable event in my book and part of the reason I love doing this job.

I will mention that my crew did an excellent job! Tanner kept the tables cleared and the bar backed up and Kelly hustled behind the bar with me. I think the wedding planner and everyone was happy with us. Next week it is a birthday party in Sherman Oak, then on to Torrance the following week for as birthday party.

Woodland Hills 50th Birthday Party

18 Apr

Last night was a rare occasion that I did a  party on a Thursday night – it was the host’s 50th birthday party and his office was closed the following day, Good Friday. A crowd of around fifty people arrived for the backyard event and even though it was Thursday, they partied like it was 1999. The host had set up a makeshift bar in his backyard using two folding tables with table clothes. This works just fine and saves people the expense of renting a bar. The tables just sit a little lower than a normal bar.  I have purchased a portable bar and can provide that for a minimal extra charge.

I consulted with the host about a drink menu and shopping list. He printed out a very nice list with all the wines and beers mentioned and the various drinks. He served some nice wines, including J Lohr Cabernet, and La Crema Chardonnay. Once again, the Cadillac Margarita was the big hit of the night. You just can’t go wrong with those, especially when you use a good tequila. The host was serving Gran Centenario Anejo tequila, which is a very good tequila and won’t break the bank. The tequila that I am also seeing a lot of now that is really good is Casadores Reposado. It is so much smoother than say, Cuervo gold. It really makes a big difference in the drinks.

I had a an assistant with me and she made drinks also. Whenever I bring an extra server, they are trained bartenders too, so they can jump in and help when needed. She made as many Cadillacs as I did. Taqueria El Tapatio

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My barback behind the makeshift bar

The crowd mingling

The crowd mingling

Shaken Not Stirred crew with incognito birthday boy

Shaken Not Stirred crew with incognito birthday boy

of Woodland Hills provided the catering, and they put out some pretty good tacos. Woodland Hills is my old stomping grounds and I have a lot of history in the San Fernando Valley, so it is always nice to go back there.  The host found Shaken Not Served through a Google search, which shows me that this blog is working.

I don’t have anything booked for this Saturday night, which will be the first times in months if I don’t get a last minute gig. Next week I have two events scheduled so far, a North Hollywood event at a local boxing gym very close to my house, and a wedding in Valencia that I am also providing two servers for. Next month, I have events scheduled in Torrance, Filmore, and Palos Verdes. I need more likes on my Facebook Page, and please follow us on Twitter.