Entertaining Notes is a new series in which we speak with friends of Chopin Vodka to learn about their top entertaining tips. Each of our contributors has been chosen because of their strong personal style and their penchant for throwing great parties. From signature cocktails and go-to playlists, to their favorite ways to serve Chopin Vodka, we learn about the personal touches that turn their events into memorable occasions.
Justin was born in Connecticut with family roots in both Boston and NYC. He is the founder of The Cup Bearer, a luxury mobile bar company that provides bar services for exclusive off-premise events from Boston to NYC. The Cup Bearer provides fully-portable, custom-built bars and a team of stylish and charismatic career mixologists able to create any combination of exotic libation.
I was raised by an Italian mother and Persian father in a home where it seemed that food and good drink were the only things worth talking about. When I entertain, I know that there are really only four things that matter: the guest list, the food, the music and, of course, the drink.
The most interesting cocktail party that The Cup Bearer served was a circus-themed New Year’s Eve party. The host went all the way with the décor and entertainment - acrobats, jugglers, etc. We did our part by providing a live parrot in a cage, a champagne tower and bottle sabering. The guest list was modest at only 30 or so people, but everyone took the theme to heart and the costumes were fabulous. To top it all off, the DJ was excellent! That night I saw people have the sort of fun that you rarely find at parties.
Music is the beating heart of any occasion. When I’m not at The Cup Bearer, I am also a bar and restaurant consultant. Making playlists is one of the most fun and important jobs a restaurant consultant has. At Sonsie, a Boston based restaurant which is close to my heart, we created two playlists on Spotify - ‘Sonsie Act 2’ and ‘Sonsie Act 3’; Act 2 is the sunset-themed, early evening party starter, while Act 3 keeps the energy going after dark. I rely on these two playlists when I entertain. Constant updates ensure they are always fresh and ready to make everyone’s hips move.
Of all the cocktails I have created, the “Sharbat” is no doubt my signature. My father introduced Persian flavors into our home. I took those ingredients and played with them to create what is now one of our most distinctive cocktails (recipe below).
If I had to give one tip for creating a great party I would say to be mindful of space - too little space is better than too much space. The aim should be for guests to mingle closely, because if the party is spread across several rooms then they might never feel comfortable dancing. Also, if the party is too spread out then the host might spend the entire night traveling between scattered groups of guests, rather than enjoying the event from one central location.
My favorite way to enjoy Chopin Vodka is very simple: 2 oz. poured over a large crystal clear ice cube and finished with a slice of lemon. There’s no need to mess with a good thing.
2 oz. Chopin Vodka
1 oz. Simple syrup
½ oz. Raspberry tea
¾ oz. Lemon Juice
1 Bar spoon Persian basil seeds (rehydrated in rosewater)
Basil flower garnish
Shake all ingredients and serve over a large clear ice-cube. Garnish with basil flower and serve.