Tag Archives: catering

A Shirley Temple Christmas

(Relive the holidays with this post…or call me a slacker!)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year:  family, friends, vacations, bonuses, presents, food and who can resist holiday libations?    Even the cocktails themselves feel the spirit of the holidays tweaking just a touch to add a taste to the holidays.  Memories of a childhood Christmas are brought back with the crumbling of a bizcochito cookie, or the hangover of too much eggnog.  Walking about town with a hot apple cider in hand, feeling the intoxicating high of a community just simply happy, can render a grin on even Mr. Scroodge’s face.  I love the holidays.

I especially love Christmas time at my restaurant.  People are just generally kind, more patient, more generous and not only with the servers, but with each other.  My restaurant recently catered a Christmas party hosted by a family, whose guests only reinforced this point.  A morning party that was truly a pleasure to work.

Of the hundreds of parties I have tended bar for, this one was truly exceptional.  The entire restaurant was booked for friends and family, to have a lavish five hour cocktail party with an exceptional array of appetizers.  In my world, Silver Oak cabernet (2006) flowed in luscious crimson ribbons into every glass; a sight Baucus himself would have envied.  As the elder crowd marinated their conversations, the children of the party starting getting restless, eyeing the decadent dessert buffet.

None of the parents had formally introduced the wee ones, so they took to doing so themselves.  A fascinating social dynamic unfolded.  The children, ranging from 4-7 years-old, began complimenting the other on their holidays outfits.

“I really like your sparkles,” said the youngest of the bunch.

“Thanks.  My mom picked it out,” replied the other.

The boys proceeded to have their own way of making small talk which entailed convincing the others to follow them up to the gigantic candy bowl (the complimentary mints at the door)- proof that male communication skills develop much later than girls.  The children ran a-muck as the parents continuously sipped on their bottomless glasses of wine, graciously provided by the host of the party.  After a few dozen suicide laps around the restaurant, the children bellied up to the bar for a drink.

I was about to offer them all some water, when the eldest of the bunch ordered a drink.

“May I please have a Shirley Temple?” he asked.  Delighted by his manners, I smiled and proceeded to make his drink.

“Extra cherries?” I offered.

“Yes, please!” he responded with excitement.

One Shirley Temple quickly turned into a round for the lot- now all seated at the bar- eagerly awaiting their drinks.  Once served, they all clinked their glasses and sucked down half of their drinks in one gulp.  Giggling to myself, I tried to take a snap shot of the youngest bar patrons I’ve ever had.  They continued their small talk, each taking turns in ordering a round.

“Excuse me, may we please have one more for all of us?”  asked the doe-eyed youngest girl of the bunch.  Had this been anyone of age, I would have considered cutting them off- but what could another round of Shirley Temples do?  After all, it’s Christmas and their parents were not barring their consumption.

“Another round?” I smiled, subtly teaching them invaluable lingo.

“Yes, please!” cheered another.

“What kind of grenadine are you using?” asked the eldest of the bunch.

“It’s a special grenadine that we make just for the restaurant,” I replied, “It has hibiscus flowers, sugar and pome-”

“Pomegranate, I know-” interrupted the little twerp.

“Pomegranate, that’s absolutely right,” I responded, “have you ever made grenadine before?”

“No, but I kinda know a lot about grenadine and Shirley Temples,” gloated the twerp.

“Is that so?  Who makes the best Shirley Temple?” I asked.

“So far it’s Minnie Mouse and Disney land and you.”

Suddenly, he wasn’t a little twerp anymore.  It’s amazing what a little tickle of the ego will do to someone.

“Me?  Why thank you!” I answered, dropping a third cherry into his glass.

A new comer arrived and took a few minutes climbing up onto the barstool.  I took the liberty of making her a Shirley Temple, so she could join the serious discussion about which cookies were Santa’s favorite.  I set her drink, with two cherries, in front of her.  She was so excited about the two cherries that she chose to tell her parents about it immediately.

“Two!?” she shrieked in bliss, and proceeded to get her parent’s attention, “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy! Dad! DADDY, LOOK! Dad! dad!”

“WHAT IS IT MY DARLING CHILD?” said her father, his attention now undivided.

“I got TWO cherries!  The lady gave me TWO!” she grinned while she drinking her Shirley Temple at warp speed.

“That’s so cool honey!” replied the father and quickly returned to chatting with the big kids.  The little girl was still so excited that she now wanted tell her mom about the two cherries.

“Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mommmmmmmyyyyy!” she repeated.

Her new found friend sitting next to her turned to me , shaking her head with comisurating eyes, “She’s just a kindergartener, you know?”

So young do we start making excuses for our friend’s behavior after a few too many drinks.  I refrained from laughing at how darling this little girl was and how eager she was to grow up.  If she only knew.

“Oh, a kindergartener?  That explains everything….what grade are you in?”

Her cheeks were sucked in tightly as she slurped the last possible drop of the Shirley Temple.  She gasped for air, wiped her grenadine-graced lips on her white lace sleeve and responded, “Third grade.”

Happy (belated) Holidays to you all and Happy 2012!

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The Hot(el) Files: The Wedding Reception.

I have recovered from the visual atrocities of La Quinceañera and am mentally stable enough to report the final Hot(el) File.  I apologize in advance for any emotional tangents that may find their way into this entry.  Although I may be mentally stable, there is no telling how the physical Tourette’s -the nervous tic I’ve been plagued with since La Q-  may manifest itself while I type.  You have been forewarned.

Of the five catering gigs my restaurant provided for this hotel, three of them were weddings.   As a prospective bride myself, I can’t help but to compare, contrast and critique each wedding I attend or work.  I’ve made a list of things I have loved from Thai paper lanterns to Hindi copper bells ringing in the kiss.  Centerpieces as simple as wheat grass flowerbeds have wowed me, where those involving live fish, have horrified me.  Color schemes ranging from navy and fuchsia to sage and chocolate have tickled my artistic palette while  officiates conducting the ceremony, have punctured it.

I’ve made my notes, collected addresses and dropped my names.  I am in full-blown wedding planning mode.  After three weddings at this particular hotel, one thing has been decided: I will die before I have a wedding there.

Why, you ask?  It’s quite simple: I love food.  This hotel, does not.  We’ll leave it there so as to not bash the coup, I mean, sous chef and their wonton handling of the pork loins, or their bastardizing of the sauce Béarnaise- WHERE IS YOUR BAIN-MARIE?! MURDERER!

Pardon me.  Let us stop there so as to not berate the staff members, whose uniforms displayed a traces of a buffet more appetizing than the one being set up,  nor the linen company whose definition of “dry cleaning” clearly entails a Swiss Army knife and a gentle scraping motion.  DAFT SWINES!  Please, let us get straight to the plump underbelly of this event; the guests.

Although each wedding technically had different guests, the demographic was the same.  All dressed in costumes stolen from the set of Friends circa 1991; subdued shoulder pads, platform felted-high heels with silver buckles and jersey-polyester blends as far as the eye could stand.  The hair?  Flock of Seagulls attack Farrah Fawcett and win, immortalizing the victory with Scotchgard.

Three separate couples were married, all mysteriously with the same color scheme: puddy on puddy.  There were three different brides who all looked like they could have been sisters, sharing the same breast size (53-A), and three grooms who were all definitely the asshole jock from your high school voted “Best Smile” and “Most Likely to Knock-up a Cheerleader”.  Teenage evidence of the latter award was present at each wedding.

In other words, these weddings were made for people watching so epic that Joan Rivers would have reversed every plastic surgery to have worked this catering event.  But I had someone far better than Joan Rivers; we’ll call her, Rosa.

Rosa is the hotel’s bartender whom I was teamed up with for each wedding.  Both she and Rivers were born somewhere around the Cretaceous period and when Rivers went Hollywood, Rosa went Guadalajara.  She is a pint-sized advocate of Catholicism, with jet-black hair, painted eye brows, mauve acrylic nails and the only member of the hotel staff whose uniform was freshly pressed.

It was the last of the three weddings, and the two of us set up the bar as she recounted moments from her wedding day.

“Aye, mija, it was so beautiful. We had everything in white,” she said, relishing in her day of glamour.

“What did you have to eat?” asked the gourmand inside me.

“A whole roasted pig, you know the kind you cook underground? Si, mija, con arroz and beans and salsas-”

Rosa’s description of the meal quickly turned into the description of the ceremony.  It was a traditional catholic wedding that sounded like a three-hour game of Simon Says.  Once married, the marriage was consummated bringing up Rosa’s view on children before marriage.

“Aye, it’s like, why bother, right?  I mean, they don’t deserve the wedding, right, mija?” she asked, ready to stab me with a pairing knife if I thought otherwise.

“Right, Rosa.  Why bother?” I said, terrified to disagree with what was turning out to be a million-year-old nun.  She smiled at me with great pleasure, happy that I had concurred.

We finished setting up the bar and had a perfect view of the ceremony.  The guests began to arrive, each eclipsing the other with their hair.  The wedding party, all dressed in puddy, started to walk down the aisle immediately prompting a remark from Rosa.

“Uy! What were they thinking letting them where white!?”

From the sounds of it, one would have assumed that she had just witnessed a grisly murder.  From the grip of her mauve nails around my arm, I thought she was in labor.  Rest assured, there was no baby, but to Rosa, there had just been a murder.

“Mija, do you see that?!  What did I just tell you, mija?”

“About the puddy?” I asked, trying to avoid the subject.

“No, mija! About the babies!” she hissed.  I turned to see the bride walking down the aisle, with her toddler. Rosa shunned the couple’s lack of integrity for the institution of marriage with a flagrant strand of Spanish profanities.

As I watched the bride make her way down the aisle,  two songs that popped in my head…the “Wedding March” was not one of them.  It was a tie between “Ballad of Bodacious” and “Mrs. Fat Booty”.  A visual spectacle.  To avoid horrid wedding dress karma, I am going to bite my tongue about the details.  I will tell you that getting into this dress, required both a trampoline and assistance from the local fire department.

The ceremony was soon over and the first dance began.  Rosa rolled her eyes as my heart melted as the toddler ran up to its parents midway through the song, to join them.  Unorthodox, but come on, it was sweet.  I was snapped out of my Hallmark moment by the following sentence.

“I need two red-headed sluts and a blow job,” blurted a bridesmaid, obnoxiously chewing what I know was watermelon flavored Bubblicious.

I was catatonic.  I had an idea, yet no idea as to what this puddy-dressed sailor was asking me for.

“Excuse me, miss?” I responded.  As I leaned into the cloud of watermelon Bubblicious, Rosa elbowed her way in front of me.

“What is it that you need, mija?”

The puddy-dressed sailor repeated her order and Rosa got down to business.

“OK, mija, but there are three kinds of blow jobs- which one do you want?  The one with the cream or the peach?”

I was now speechless on two counts.  First, by the original request and second, by Rosa’s wikipedia-like knowledge of what sounded like the Kama Sutra.  Her Guadalupe glow started to dim as more drink orders came in.  The groomsmen were now ordering and she needed some help.

“OK, jito, you got it-” she said to the groomsmen while turning to me, “Bueno, mija, I need your help.  I need you to make two sex on the beaches and three blue balls- OK, mija?”

“I only know how to make two blue balls, Rosa-” I said.

“Que?  Just make one more, mija.”

Clearly, my joke had no audience behind the bar.  I opened a reference book and started to mix ever cordial behind the bar to make the drinks I was delegated.  Syrups were flying everywhere and my shoes began to stick to the ground.  The wedding guests started to crowd the bar, screaming their drink orders.

“Sex on the Beach!” “Bald Beaver!” “Blow Job, please!”

I didn’t know if I should laugh or gargle peroxide, but ear plugs would have been a great investment.  Frantically referencing the book of diabetes-inducing cocktails, I turned to Rosa to ask how to make a Bald Beaver.

“Hey, Rosa!” I yelled, whipping her around.  She turned and smiled at me, waiting for my question, but I couldn’t find the words.  I was about to ask an old, conservative, hispanic, catholic woman, how to make a Bald Beaver.  This couldn’t be happening.

“I need that Bald Beaver, ma’am! Ma’am!” shouted the orderer.

“Rosa, how do you make a B…a Bal, bald b-b-b-b-beaver!”

“Que, mija?” she responded, walking over to me.  Our back facing the madness of open-bar gluttons, I was about to ask her how to make the Bald Beaver in question, when she started gossiping about the bride, again.

“Did you see her, mija?  She had the tattoo on her shoulder and her baby on her hip- did you see?!”

“I did.  Awful, truly.  Hey, how do you make a Bald Beaver, Rosa?”

“Oh! Easy, mija, watch-” and just like that, we had gone from morals and ethics, to Bald Beavers.


The DJ- who I swear to you played “Cupid Shuffle” at least six times throughout the course of the evening- announced the groom and mother’s first dance.  Finally, a moment of peace.

The crowd parted making way for the two to dance.  I immediately ran through songs from previous weddings, placing my bets on what the song would be.  I decided that based on the crowd, it would be a country song.  Rosa and I leaned up against the bar for a better view, hushing the sexually charged drink orders.

“Shhh! They’re going to dance- show some respect,” snapped Rosa.  The crowd calmed a bit as the DJ cued up the song.

“I bet you it’s a country song, Rosa,” I whispered.  She smiled, scrunching her nose in excitement.

The music began, and I had lost the bet.  It was not country, but a Disney song.  And, why would a mother and her son two-step, when they could bump and grind to “I Can Show You The World”?

I was horrified, as was Rosa.  Suddenly, whipping up three Blue Balls for a bar patron sounded not only classy, but normal.  This was truly a whole new world.

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The Hot(el) Files: The Bowlers.

Nothings hurts more than having to open a bar after a long night of drinking.  Senses are heightened beyond those of a pregnant woman.  Smells can be immobilizing, and the texture of a maraschino cherry is enough to make you hurl something you ate in the 4th grade.  This particular morning, was one of these mornings.

I met my co-worker in the lobby, both of us hissing at the sun as we hid behind our sunglasses; our livers spring-loaded and our hearts pumping more Manhattans than blood.  We drug our feet to Ballroom 1, and found an excessively perky concierge gingerly sliding a paper into the slot next to the door that read, “Welcome Regional Bowling Convention.”  Immediately, I perked up.

You see, The Big Lebowski is one of my all-time favorite movies and was about to be surrounded by hundreds of them.  With this in mind, I sent the bar back to fetch plenty half and half in anticipation for the wave of white Russians (aka Caucasians) I would make.  Although my mood perked, my hangover was still more than present.  The thought of drinking made my skin ripple.

I was setting up the bar -holding each bottle an arm’s length away from my face- when I saw the door across the ballroom swing open. I popped my head up to see who was coming in and did a double take.

“Do you see that?” I asked my co-worker.

“See what?” he asked.

“Do you see what’s walking over to us?”

We both slowly straightened our posture and focused our eyes on what we both thought was a man in a bowling pin costume.  As he got closer to the bar, we realized that the man was genetically pre-disposed to bowl, as his body was shaped like a pin…a six-foot pin.  We confused the color scheme of a bowling pin, with the glory of his fashion sense: a white satin shirt with a large red belt and white loose-fit jeans.

“Oh, wow-” uttered my co-worker, as the giant bowling pin approached the bar.

“Good morning!” I squeaked, attempting to sound perky and inviting.  “What can I get you, sir?”

The giant bowling pin set both of his hands (each the size of frying pans) upon the bar and gasped for air.  I suppose bowlers never really have to walk terribly far nor fast to the bowling alley bar.  As he caught his breath, he slowly picked his head up to speak.  Given his spacially-dominant presence, I was expecting a deeper voice than the one that hop-scotched out of his mouth.

“Dear God!” he chirped.  Pinocchio? Is that you? I asked myself. “This has been such a sssssstressful morning.  I need a drink-”

And without skipping a beat proceeded to order the most diabetic-inducing mixture.

“I’ll take a mango Malibu Sea Breeze, extra cherries.”

My jaw dropped and I quickly bowed my head pretending to look for what I knew we didn’t have: Malibu.  I could see my co-worker trembling, trying to contain his laughter.  There was no way he was going to be able to respond to the giant bowling pin, which meant I had to.  I took a deep breath, proving to be a horrible idea as the giant bowling pin had bathed in what must have been moth balls and Cool Water.  I refrained from gagging and popped up like a piece of toast from a toaster.

“Sorry, sir, but we don’t seem to have any mango Malibu today.”

“Oh! Don’t you worry you sweet thang you- regular Malibu will be fine,” he sung.

“Ah, you see, we don’t seem to have that either, sir.  May I interest you in something else?” I proposed.

“Gee, let me get an amaretto sour instead.”

“Goodness, you are going to hate me!  We weren’t stocked with amaretto this morning.  Third one’s the charm though…” as I awaited his next request.  The top of the giant bowling pin was beginning to furrow.  I don’t believe he’s ever had to think of a third option before…this was about to get interesting.

“Ok, let me get Liquid Marijuana-” he ordered, confidently.

Familiar with this concoction that contrary to actual marijuana, should be illegal I asked that he refresh my memory of its contents.

“Oh, it’s yummy.  It’s equal parts: Capitan Morgan, blue Curaçao, Midori and pineapple juice, with extra cherries for me.”

I was officially tending to a humongous hummingbird.

The poor giant bowling pin’s eyes were wide with anticipation as I pretended to look for ingredients that only a sweet-sixteen birthday party is stocked for.  I pulled the jar of maraschino cherries and the box of pineapple juice and smiled.

“I have two parts of it?”

He dropped his head between his frying-pan hands and sighed.  The guy was having a rough day and it was only 11:00a.m..  I turned to look at my coworker, who had taken to avidly jamming bottles of beer into ice buckets to avoid this interaction.  I looked back at the giant bowling pin, his head still dropped in defeat.  Starring at his balding head, a pop of color from behind his neck caught my eye.  I took a step to my left and leaned to find that the pop of color was in fact an electric purple and white scrunchie, slowly sliding down the two-dozen hairs it was desperately trying to hold.

Suddenly, the giant bowling pin’s head popped up with a near joker smile.

“I got it!” he chirped, “I’ll have a cherry coke and rum!  You do have that, don’t you?”

Afraid to deny him yet another drink, I nodded and proceeded to pour a pint glass a third full of maraschino juice, 1 oz of rum and top it with coke.  I garnished the diabetes- I mean, drink with a straw and cherry and glided my hand towards his.  The giant bowling pin’s eyes widened and his face lit up as though the heaven’s had parted and shone upon this celestial moment.  A rendition of  The Creation; a pint of red 40 and coke between our hands.

Thanking me like a child would Santa Claus on Christmas morning, he took his first sip and moaned with satisfaction.  His eyes locked with the pint glass like a pig to a trough.  Perhaps it was the maraschino cherry juice, but his face began to regain color.  He lifted his head up, his face punch-drunk with love as he seductively asked for extra cherries.

As I filled a shot glass with the only fruit that will survive nuclear fall-out, the giant bowling pin asked how our day was going so far.  We made small conversation about the weather and the excitement of the holidays ahead and the possibility of making loads of white Russians for this convention.

“White Russians?” questioned the giant bowling pin.

“Yeah, you know, Caucasians.  You’ve seen The Big Lebowski, right?” I asked.

“Oh honey, White Russians are soooooo cliché!” he remarked, spun around and waddled his way back across the ballroom.

I looked at my coworker in complete disappointment.  Sooooo cliché?  I asked him, as we both stood in shock.  We looked at the bar we had set up; rows of light domestic beers, plenty of vodka, Crown Royal and half and half  and the only cordial being Kaluhua.  The first 15 minutes of our shift had already proven that our assumptions of bowlers, were completely inaccurate.

“Something tells me we may not have properly stocked for this crowd,” I commented.

“You think?” mocked my coworker.

Damn you, Lebowski!

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The Hot(el) Files

My Fellow Readers,

To your advantage and my potential demise, has a complete gem fallen into my hands.  Recently, a chain hotel in my town has temporarily lost its liquor license.  No juicy gossip, simply faulty paperwork on their lawyer’s behalf while changing ownership.  How does this apply to the bartendress?  My ever-helpful boss has negotiated a temporary situation, in which we use our catering license so that previously booked events (weddings, conventions, etc…), could still have a bar rather than either explaining that their event is now a dry one, or losing the business all together.  This hotel chain may consider cannonizing my boss into sainthood, for he has saved its ASS.

How is this advantageous to you?  I have been assigned to work these caters.  How might this kill me?  Read and find out.

With no further ado, I present to thee a series of stories based on these hotel caters: The Hot(el) Files.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the (shit) show.


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