Monday, June 30, 2014

Oktoberfest & a Bit of Romance

Some Thoughts for the Fall Season…
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals

Well it's that time of the year when summer has past & fall is now upon us. As chill nights & more temperate afternoons soon turn the landscape into a wonder of explosive color & natural beauty, we thus enter into a season of festival harvest & traditional celebration. Indeed, it's a perfect time to work hard on the task at hand, yet take a moment to pause & savor the prosperity we thus create.

So I'd like to look briefly back upon the summer & share with you one of the most romantic moments that my business has ever brought me, to then look upon the landscape of our culture & consider some of the rich traditions that our festival season carries, & finally to look ahead at some fun stuff for the season before us.

First, I just have to share what was probably one of the most romantic things I've ever seen:

I'd like to tell you about Chris & Anna…

They met a few years ago while doing post-graduate work at American University. Their first date was one of those moments when you just knew good stuff was yet to come. It ended in a quaint little park just off campus where they talked for hours on end (unaware that such time had even passed) until eventually they looked up & realized that it was quickly becoming dawn. Now that's chemistry!

Soon thereafter they grew to love each other very much. They both moved to New York, & in time Chris decided that he wanted to ask Anna to marry him.  That's where I came in; for Chris had an idea, & once I heard what he had in mind I just knew that I had a part of it (not my company, me personally).
In respect of her culture's traditions, he had arranged to take his parents down to Texas to meet with her family & ask for her hand in marriage. Being the man that he his, her parents were of course elated. So with such a blessing to back his intentions our plan was then set in motion.

Anna thought that he had been on a fishing trip with his father & knew nothing of his little excursion. But now back in New York, he was taking her down to DC for what she thought would be a weekend spent with some old friends from college.  Instead, she was on her way to experience a moment that she'd remember forever…

Indeed, Chris wanted to do this in style. So he devised a plan to recreate some of the magic that they had felt that night when they'd first met. For that he had contacted The Private Professionals to arrange for "dinner in the park."  And after several emails, a few phone calls, & some logistical positioning on both sides, we finally had worked everything out & were ready to go.

In fact, I have to say that even the Gods were with us that night. At the time, DC was experiencing a long run of really bad rains & we were both very concerned that we might get washed out. But as the day approached, the clouds parted, a beautiful sun dried the grounds, & I swear that even the bugs left us alone that night.  :-)  

The park had 3 baseball fields with each outfield converging into a central position. I set up there, & awaiting the couple would be a full service four-course dinner served on white table cloth with fine china & silver.

In fact, as a funny note aside, while I was setting up there was actually a game for little league being played. All the mothers were sitting there just watching some crazy guy walking back & forth with various articles of this & that. I kind of smiled as it was clear that they were all watching me with this look of "what in the hell is he doing?"  I finally just paused on my way back from a trip & told a couple what was going on. Word spread in a heartbeat & within moments there was an entire little league full of mothers who thought that Chris was the most romantic guy on the planet (& to be honest, after that I kinda felt sorry for their husbands).  ;-)

Anyway, they arrived just as the sun began to set. The table was set with candles already burning & a red rose in a glass swan vase. The sky was brilliant with color & the look on Anna's face was of perfect disbelief.  I greeted our guests as they approached, "Hi Chris, it's nice to finally meet you. And you my dear must be Anna.
 Well my name is Rick, & this is going to be a night you'll never forget…"

A round of cosmopolitans were served with select cheese so that they could both unwind a bit & Anna could just absorb what was going on. That was soon followed with a course of appetizers: chicken satay drizzled in a coconut peanut sauce with caramelized onions & roasted red peppers. An excellent Sauvignon Blanc then accompanied a Baby Caesar Salad served with grilled shrimp & pan seared scallops. The main course featured Filet Mignon with sautéed Vidalia onions & portabella mushroom, all drizzled in a raspberry cab-sauce, & served with a side of grilled asparagus & risotto influenced wild rice. 
After dinner everything was cleared & the table was reset for dessert. Then I just left 'em alone as Chris & I had arranged that this was to be the moment. I just casually stood off to the side for a while (camera in hand) as he began to show Anna the pictures of his trip to Texas. At first you could see it on her face, "what's going on exactly?"  Then he started in with how happy she had made him, how much he loves her, & how he wanted her to be a part of his life forever.

In classic form, he took a ring from his pocket, took a knee, & proposed…

Anna had the most honest look of deep surprise & true adoration that I've ever seen. There was no doubt, from beginning to end he had pulled it off with absolute perfection. Hugs soon followed, & then came the tears!  After all that, you've got to have some tears! And of course, I knew it would end this way…

She Said YES! 

After some pictures, we all toasted the moment with some champagne, & they enjoyed some chocolate mousse cake while family & friends all got a call (it's perhaps the one time that a cell phone at the dinner table is actually a good thing).  No doubt, we made a bit of magic that night & it was beauty defined. I can only say that it was an absolute pleasure to have been a part of it.

Dear Rick, Thank you so much making the night of our engagement something truly magical. Everything was so beautiful & so perfect. We are sincerely grateful for your professionalism, dedication, & passion - for all that went into planning & executing such a perfect evening (not to mention your very cool & fun personality!). You helped ease all anxieties & create a very surreal event comprised of great food, great company, laughter, tears of joy, & a tremendous amount of love. Thank you for making such a special evening one that we'll treasure forever.  
Sincerely, Anna & Chris.


Perhaps it's because I've since met someone who's granted me a bit of my own love in life, but coming from a guy who has an ex-fiancé in his past I can honestly say that my faith in true love has again been restored.  Indeed, a story of love is really what started one of the greatest traditions that the festival season brings - Oktoberfest was actually born of a wedding…

The Story of Oktoberfest & the Tradition of Halloween:

- On October 12th in 1810, Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later crowned as King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony. Traditionally such an event would garner a grand celebration open only to the King's court, nobles, & society's grand elite. But Prince Ludwig wanted his people to share in the celebration, so he opened the grounds before the city gates & provided a grand festival for the whole of Bavaria (this was unheard of at the time, for traditionally nobles & the common people never mingled at such affairs).

Over 40,000 attended the festival, & although the first celebration was not focused particularly on beer, six of the nation's greatest brewers set aside a select Märzen styled ale for the event (the original six included: Paulaner, Hacker, Pschorr, Spaten, Lowenbrau, Hofbrau, & Augustiner). A grand horse race was arranged on the final day of celebration & signaled the close of the official festival.

The following year it was decided to hold the horse race again, & a fair was built around a Bavarian Agricultural Show to boost the state's trade in agriculture. In time the tradition of the horse race was abandoned, but the overall fair evolved into a harvest festival that was soon celebrated throughout all of Germany. Today it is the largest single festival in the world & draws roughly 6 million revelers to Munich each year.

Oktoberfest traditionally starts on the third weekend of September & runs until the first Sunday of October. This year it celebrates its 196th year, a tradition to which only epidemics of cholera & war have given it pause.

Some excellent Oktoberfest Beers to try are: Paulaner (my personal favorite), Spaten, & Ayinger, as well as their domestic counterparts, Sam Adams, Harpoon, & Brooklyn Brewery. You can actually enjoy the Oktoberfest style year round by simply looking for an ale brewed in the traditional Märzen style. 

- the term "Halloween" actually comes from a corruption of the term "All Hallows Eve" which essentially marks the eve of 'All Saints Day' traditionally observed on November 1st (originally, this was a very solemn day used to honor all the saints in heaven). Despite its connection to the Church however, the traditional observance of Halloween actually owes its origin to an ancient festival of the Druids…  

In ancient Celtic tradition, October 31st was celebrated as a holiday called Samhain (pronounced 'sow-en'). This was a day when the harvest season was considered to be at a close & was seen as a time when the year was essentially reconciled (both spiritually & physically). Most ancient cultures saw this time as being associated with death, & it was often believed that the boundary between the physical & spirit world were temporarily blurred. As a result, spirits could for a time blend & intermingle with the living. So on the night of October 31st people would gather in the village dressed in various garb of a ghoulish manner, & they'd parade around making all sorts of noise or mischief to ward off any evil spirits as well as to disorient any regular spirits that might be searching for homes or people to possess.

In time however, the Celtic territories were conquered & controlled by the Romans. But the Romans were quite brilliant in their diplomacy, for they didn't as a rule force dictatorship on the conquered. Rather, they tried to assimilate their culture into the local ways, then they simply maintained political dominance in each region under which they maintained control. As a result, many of the holidays we know today began as predominantly Roman holidays that were merged with local celebrations, & that were eventually blended into entirely new traditions.
Along those same lines, it was sometime later when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity that he followed this same general rule. He wanted to find a way for the people to embrace the new religion. So rather than to decree oppressive laws that could end in conflict & uprising, he looked for ways to meld the beliefs of the Christian faith into the lifestyles of the masses (this is how the tradition of Christmas essentially got started). Many of the early popes followed in his wisdom, so it was later decided that All Saints Day should be held on November 1st, thus following on the heels of the October celebration already in place.  

Actually, it was in a similar fashion that such Christian influence came across the Atlantic with Spanish conquerors. Such traditions were blended with Aztec customs to create The Day of the Dead (celebrated widely in Mexico & Mexico City to this day).  The custom of Halloween however was brought to America during the 1840's by Irish immigrants displaced by the great potato famine.

From this however, the tradition of trick-or-treating seems to have come from a custom of the All Souls' Day parades in old England. It was believed that the dead would often live for a time in a state of limbo upon the earth. Prayer it was believed could expedite one's passage into heaven. So traditionally the poor would go door to door & beg for food during the festival, & in return for a promise to pray for the family's recently departed they would be given a pastry called a 'soul cake'.
Ultimately though, as the mysticism & more religious aspects of the holiday eventually waned, the festival atmosphere continued to persevere. Eventually, American capitalism began to seize upon the opportunity & it soon developed into a celebration focused more on simple fun & frolic. Today it is the highest grossing holiday for most retailers second only to Christmas.

Really Cool Stuff: City Guide...

And now, some 'Really Cool Stuff' for the Fall Season (the short list):

The fall season has a lot going on & there is more than ample opportunity for social diversion or event-based activity. With so much happening (& since it was such a great hit over the spring), I thought I'd thus revisit my edition of "Really Cool Stuff" for the fall. But rather than to give you a personal list of places to go & things to do, I thought this time I'd give you the ultimate list of regional resources & let you find your own little excursions - something more attune to your own individual taste & personal desire.
Many of the great spots & city secrets that I listed in the spring however, still bear out in the Fall. For that, if you'd like a copy of my Spring Newsletter then please just contact me via. Email & I'll send you a copy.

First & foremost, I always tell people that there are a few regional 'must have guides' to the area
. Between these you'll have a complete overview of the city, the scene, & a clear idea for what's going on…  
  • The Washingtonian Magazine (& its counterpart, Baltimore Magazine) - particularly the 'when & where' section which offers great insight into coming events, hot tickets, & current happenings. Available at magazine stands & bookstores anywhere in the city, or online at:   It also offers its own section of "cool stuff" as presented by Washingtonians (Hey, they stole my idea! Those rat bastards):
  • Where Magazine - Written specifically for the city's tourist trade, it offers a fantastic outlay of the city neighborhood by neighborhood. It's also a great resource for shopping, galleries, parks, restaurants, shows, & events. You can pick up a copy in the lobby of most hotels throughout the city. 
  • The Weekend Guide of the Washington Post (in the Friday Issue) - Everything from festivals to shows & concerts. If it's happening over the weekend then you'll probably find it the weekend guide.
  • The City Paper - DC's premier alternative newspaper & THE resource for nightlife entertainment. A free weekly found in hotspot locations & is readily available throughout the city.  Check it out online at:
  • On Tap Magazine - Carries a direct focus on the pub & bar crowd, & is a great resource for happy hours, entertainment, & special events in the DC bar scene. Available all over: 
  • Bar DC (online) - Offers a very comprehensive listing of the city's clubs, bars, lounges, dives, cafes, coffeehouses, & restaurants; listed by region or venue:
  • DC Nightlife & Entertainment (online) - Online guide to DC nightlife:
Secondly, I'd to offer my personal top pics of area clubs, groups, & organizations (each which organizes various functions & events throughout the year). DC gets a bad rap for its social venue. The truth is however, that there's a lot to do & some wonderful people in this town, you just need to get out there & find 'em…
Professional Network Organizations (Socially Based):
  • Professionals in the City - - With membership of over 50,000 it offers over 500 local events each year (ages range from 25-40). Events run from wine tastings to sporting events to embassy galas, as well as a broad range of lectures & seminars.
  • Toastmasters - (for their national directory): they strive to help professionals work on their skills in public speaking & open communication.
  • Washington Network Group - - “An organization of Washington’s next Insiders.” Its mission is to provide a forum that brings together professionals in business, finance, & government affairs. Ranked as one of the area’s 20 best network associations by Washingtonian Magazine.
  • Washington Independent Writers - - Regional Association for professional freelance writers. Its focus is to serve as an educational forum & a professional network group.
Event-Based Organizations:
  • Meet in DC - - A comprehensive list of events that are not cost prohibitive. Events are varied & the people that attend are friendly, unpretentious, & diverse (usually up for anything).
  • Things to Do - - A “premier organization for socializing & networking with fellow young professionals.” It sponsors everything from black tie galas to nightclub parties or wine tastings to weekend getaways.
  • The Sociables - - An expansive network of individuals & professionals in & around the DC area who host events, gatherings, & galas to meet like minded individuals for social interaction. Not specifically a singles group but rather an open social forum for fun folks. Ages range from 20-60.
  • Learning Escapes - - Events & trips for singles in the DC area. Events vary tremendously & it’s my experience that these go better with a friend or two. Things can be fun but people tend to be rather inhibited depending on the event & the type of crowd it draws.
Cultural Organizations:
  • 1869 Corcoran Society - - The society hosts 2 gala events, 2 on-site cocktail parties, 2 exhibit preview/receptions, quarterly new member brunches, & cultural events throughout the year (trips, tours, lectures, etc.). Membership starts at $105 & membership in the Corcoran is required before you can join
  • Young Benefactors of the Smithsonian - - The organization is focused essentially on the fundraising & support of the Smithsonian Institute. Ages range from 25-45 & cultural events are held regularly throughout the year. The core of social contact however is to become an active ‘committee member.’
  • Culture Vultures - - Their motto reads: "Go Artsy, Be a Foodie, Meet People." This is essentially the Washington Performing Art's Society group for the 20 & 30 something crowd. Members are offered discount tickets to the society's most popular shows, & hosts an after-party with cocktails & appetizers ($10). Membership is free. 
  • Other Groups Include: The Camelot Circle of The Kennedy Center & The Phillips Contemporaries (Thursday night "Artful Evenings" are kinda cool)..
Culinary Organizations:
  • Washington Wine Academy - - hosts public & private wine tastings & educational forums (Will Shore of the wine brats have since merged w/ the wine academy). Events include a wine & Jazz series. This is a great venue in my experience for a casual date or an evening w/ friends.
  • Dinner in the City - - They host “unique upscale events paired w/ great food & networking opportunities - all with a stylish flair & sense of fun.” Events range from small intimate dinners & member’s only cocktail parties to large galas & elegant evenings of wine tasting.
  • Taste DC - - The group essentially organizes culinary & food-related events throughout the DC area. Popular events include theme-based embassy dinners & wine tastings. Prices range from $55-$125.   
Sports Organizations:
  • Washington Ski Club (SCWDC) - - The organization sponsors over 40 ski trips each year but the club is not specific to just skiing. Events are held year round & range from hiking & biking to volleyball & sailing (sports however is a general focus).
  • Living 4 Adventure - - Hosts adrenaline pumped adventures such as kayaking, rafting, & skydiving around the metro region.  And what's more cool that skydiving?
  • Capital Hiking Club - - Hosts 1 or more hikes each week (& you don’t have to be a member to go). All Saturday hikes depart from 16th & I St. NW @ 8am. Fees are $18. They also have a monthly moonlight hike. 
  • Potomac Pedalers -  - The largest cycling club in the area. They host more than 1,000 planned weekend rides / year: nightly after-work trips in the summer, overnight excursions, an annual Colonial Williamsburg weekend, etc.  
For Something a Bit More Upscale:
  • Cosmos Club (2121 Mass. Ave.): - In operation since1878, it was formed for the "advancement of its members in science, literature, & art." Indeed, it is a hub of intellectual thought for the DC area offering members lectures, forums, concerts, & author dinners as well as socially based events. Annual dues range from $800-$1,800. 
  • University Club of Washington DC (1135 16th St.): - With 2,400 members, the club hosts a very active social calendar (w/ affairs such as rooftop happy hours). The historic location also maintains an array of amenities: exercise room, racquetball, billiards, & several dinning / club rooms.   
Other Misc. Organizations:
  • Spiritual Singles of Washington DC - - Several groups meet around the area for an open forum discussion on spirituality & social events for those of like mind in heart & spirit. Personally, I get the feeling they’re perhaps a bit funky as a group, but aren’t made up of zealots either. That's just an opinion…
  • The Higher Achievement Program - - Individuals volunteer to mentor young men & women around the metro region.
So that's it!  I hope you've enjoyed what I have to offer. I trust your summer was good & that you'll have a great fall season. If my team or I can be of assistance in any regard then please don't hesitate to call…

Fall Season: Dealing w/ Invitations.

Some Notes & Thoughts for the Fall Season…
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals

Well it's that time of the year when summer has past & fall is now upon us. As chill nights & more temperate afternoons soon turn the landscape into a wonder of explosive color & natural beauty, we thus enter into a season of festival harvest & traditional celebration.  In short, it's party time!!!  

As there is so much usually going on for October & the coming December holidays, it's a really good idea to pay particular attention to how you handle your invitations. Evite is great for an informal gathering, but putting together a formal mailing to place a higher degree of emphasis on your affair is much better. Also sending a more informal notification to 'save the date' can be equally as important.
Probably the coolest version of this I've ever seen was recently sent to me by Kristin & Michael. It was a simple email with basic information & provided a link. Check it out: 
† SAVE THE DATE †   For more details -->

Some Notes Regarding a Proper Invitation (from the party planner):
Understand that the general tone of the event will first be set by the invitation itself. A fun crazy party for Mardi Gras should carry a particular character of excitement & a bit of jubilation. A formal dinner party should be presented in a tone & manner that is conducive to such an affair. This is a key element to derive an expectation for what the party will be, so you should think of it as a bit of a marketing piece to really ‘sell the sizzle.’

For certain times of the year when a large number of individuals may be having similar events (such as the Fourth of July, Halloween, or the December Holidays), it's a really good idea to send out an informal notice about 60-90 days before hand. This is not a formal invitation, just a simple note or email sent as a precursor: “Hey, just wanted you to know that we’re going to be having a party on July 4th this year. Tons of food & fun for all. Our Capital Hill location even allows roof top viewing of the fireworks & has easy access to the Mall. I just wanted to let you know so you can save the date. We expect a really good group this year & wanted to be sure you were included in the fun.” 
The Invitations themselves should be mailed or sent via. email about a month before the party (I do recommend mailing however). If mailing, be sure you have a good list of current address (a simple call or email for any of those in question is all you really need to do). And by labeling each envelope “Address Correction Requested” you’ll get an update as to any change of address for those invites that were undeliverable. Then follow up via email or phone with anyone who hasn't sent an RSVP. This will assure that they did in fact get the invitation.
Tip: yearly holiday cards are great to keep an updated address file.
All invitations should convey the basic information that will be needed for the event:

  • What is the Occasion (birthday, anniversary, retirement etc.) &/or is there a specific theme?
  • When is it?  What is the exact date & on what day of the week will it be held?
  • When is it scheduled to Begin? Also, about when is it expected to end?
  • What is the Location & Address?  You may also want to include a separate slip for directions it’s helpful here to include a copied printout of a map on one side with the directions on the other). 
  • What is the Attire:  black tie / formal, semi-formal, casual, or oriented toward a specific theme?  Here it is also a good idea to somewhat describe what you mean by your attire - ‘casual’ might have a different meaning from one person to another. Saying ‘slacks & tie’ vs. ‘semi-casual’ offers more understanding.
  • General Details:  are there specific considerations when parking?  If it's a Birthday, would you rather them not feel obligated to bring a gift?  If a pool party, should they bring their own towel? If you are providing only beer & wine, then should they bring whatever else they might desire as a drink? Also, if you have arranged for a baby sitter to take care of kids then this would be good to know. Anything of general interest that would be helpful is good to attach at the end of the formal invite.
  • RSVP: provide a return envelope, an email address, or a phone number. As to you, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your guest list handy wherever you may get the call. That way you can check them off & no one will get lost in the shuffle. 

A special note on email & word of mouth: if you’ve got a good group of friends then a formal invitation not be necessary. But most need a good idea as to how many will be attending. That said, understand that the degree of formality & importance for the event itself will be carried first by the invitation that announces it. An email or a call is much less formal than an invitation which is mailed (& it will be perceived as such). In that, you shouldn’t email for a formal event - this generally requires a certain degree of decorum & such conventions shouldn’t be broken. Also, by placing emphasis on the invite you place more emphasis on the party.
And now for a bit of "Really Cool Stuff…"

Some top picks for haunted happenings & corn mazes in the area:  

  • George Washington's Gristmill at Mount Vernon - Fall Harvest Family Days will host wagon rides, a straw bale maze, apple roasting, & 18th-century games during October (check their site for available dates), Also, appearances by "George" himself are expected.   Craft & Colonial demonstrations will be in progress all day. See:
  • The Maze in the Plains offers one of the area's best corn mazes. Also on site are hay rides, fun for the kids, & of course a farmers market with a pick your own pumpkin. Visit online for more details:
  • The Fear Grounds - home of haunt-fest & pumpkin-fest 2008. Go explore the creepy legend of Dr. Pheare & the horrifying legend that haunts his twisted past. Perhaps you'd like something a little less frightening? No problem, take the kids to Pumpkin fest for a more tame & fun alternative. Located at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. Online:
  • Markoff's Haunted Forest - If you really want on of the most extravagant displays of Halloween Horror & pure adult fun, nothing beats the Markoff Haunted Forest. Have fun with any one of the many attractions while you wait for your group to be called. Enjoy some cider (perhaps the last you'll ever have), then go get the poop scared out of you by one of the areas most insane productions. Updated website coming soon. Please see: 
  • And don't forget to catch Renne Faire before it's over!  

So that's it…  Short & sweet!   I trust your summer was good & that you'll have a great fall season. If my team or I can be of assistance in any regard then please don't hesitate to call…
The Private Professionals represents the very best in private party assistance. We never hire from some bartender's academy, & in fact not one of us has below 6-8 years of experience in the downtown club & restaurant scene. We boast the very best in personalized service, so you can be sure that you'll be in the very best of hands. Please check us out online at: 

Summer Notes: Outdoor vs Indoor

Some Notes for the Summer Season…
Brought to you by Rick of The Private Professionals
Well, summer has finally arrived. The kids are out of school, the grills are in full flame, & it's that time to gather a few friends on the back deck for some burgers & margaritas. Just thought I'd send along a few notes for the season to help with the fun.

And of course if you're having a full scale event (or just wanted to pump things up a notch), then we're currently taking dates for the summer calendar & would love to hear from you.  Check us out:


Some Considerations for an Outdoor vs. Indoor Party:

If you are actually planning an outdoor event, then be sure to keep a close eye on the weather & have a back up just in case things aren’t working in your favor that day. It’s always a good idea to have an alternate indoor location just in case you need to move things inside. You may also want to have a tent set up in case of rain (or even a quick shower). This also works well for hot days to help shade people from the blazing sun.

Heat can be a problem too! Allow for some shaded areas & be sure that your guests have ready access to good water. Alcohol is very dehydrating & guests can quickly get really thirsty. A couple of taller fans planted around seated areas can be a nice touch (just make sure you aren’t blowing away drinks & paper plates). And if there will be elderly guests attending, be sure you have availability to a cooler climate.

Bugs are a big issue in the summer. Put citronella candles on all the key perimeter points & have a few cans of ‘Off’ readily available. Keep food covered, & be sure to serve sodas & beer in plastic cups…

Bees will tend to get in the neck of bottles & cans, & you don’t want to take a sip of your soda & suddenly have a very angry bee in your mouth!

Additionally, you don’t any glass products in an area where they may break & cause injury to people in bare feet. This is especially true if you have a pool or hot tub. A broken glass can cause havoc with the pump & filter system, & will often require to you to drain the entire pool!!!  Ugh…


A Few of My Favorite Recipes:  throughout the year…       

For all recipes the following conventions apply:
- A single shot is 1-½ oz.
- I prefer a 4-count speed pourer, so 1 shot = 4 counts (4ct). 
- The remaining fill is considered to be for a standard glass.
- When referring to the squeeze of 1 lime, I mean 1 lime wedge.
- A splash is equal to roughly a 1 or 2 count from a pourer.

Apple Martini (Appletini):
¾ shot (3ct) Vodka.
½ shot (2ct) Pucker or Sour Apple.
¼ shot (1ct) Triple Sec.
Finish w/ a good splash of Sours & squeeze of lime.

Shake hard & serve up as a Martini. (see "sour apple" for alt. recipe).

Blue Martini:
¾ shot (3ct) Vodka or Gin.
½ shot (2ct) Blue Curacao.
Finish w/ a good splash of Sours & squeeze of lemon.

Shake hard & serve up as a Martini w/ a twist.

Cosmopolitan:  My Recipe...
1 ¼ shot (5ct) Vodka (preferably Citron).
¼ shot (1ct) Triple Sec.
Finish w/ splash of Sours, splash of Cranberry, & squeeze of lime.

Shake hard & serve up as a Martini (it should be lightly pink not red).

Ecstasy (or just 'X'):  My Own Recipe…
¾ shot (3ct) Vodka.
½ shot (2ct) Malibu Rum.
¼ shot (1ct) Triple Sec.
Finish w/ Sours & Splash Pineapple - top off w/ dash of Grenadine.

Shake & serve up as shooter - finish w/ a light splash of grenadine.

Irish Coffee:
1 shot (4ct) Jameson's or Bushmill's Irish Whiskey
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar (put the Kaluha Down!)…
Stir sugar & Whiskey into a good coffee & top off w/ whipped Cream.

Lemon Drop:
1 shot (4ct) Vodka (preferably Citron).
Add squeeze of 1 lemon & a good dash or sugar or powdered sugar.

Shake hard (very hard) & serve up as a shot.
Garnish w/ Lemon Wedge coated in Granulated Sugar.

Manhattan (Standard):
Always ask if they want Bourbon or Whiskey.
If up then chill your glass while you make your drink (Ice & Water).

1 ½ shot (6ct) Whiskey & Shake 'till VERY COLD - set aside…

If up then dump ice from your glass & add a dash of Sweet Vermouth.
If "Dry" then shake as much out of the glass as is possible.
Add Cherry & strain the chilled Whiskey/Bourbon into the glass.

If on the Rocks then just add a very slight dash of Vermouth to the tin & serve in a Rocks Glass.  

"Perfect" gets both Dry & Sweet Vermouth - but may still be dry.

Martini (Standard/Classic):
Always ask if they want Vodka or Gin -&- Olives or a Twist.
Chill your glass while you make your drink (w/ Ice & Splash Water).

1 ½ shot (6ct) Vodka or Gin & Shake 'till VERY COLD - set aside…

If up then dump ice from your glass & add a dash of Dry Vermouth.  If "Dry" then shake as much out of the glass as is possible. Add Olives or Twist & strain the chilled Vodka or Gin to the glass.

If on the Rocks then just add a very slight dash of Vermouth to the tin & serve in a Rocks Glass.  

"Dirty" gets Olive Juice (ask 'how dirty' they want it).
"Perfect" gets both Dry & Sweet Vermouth - but may still be dry.

1 shot (4ct) Tequila
½ shot (2ct) Triple Sec
Finish w/ Sours or Margarita Mix & a Squeeze of Lime.

Shake hard or Blend. Serve up or on the rocks.
Garnish w/ lime. Salted rim of glass is optional (always ask).

¾ wine glass or flute of Champagne.
Finish w/ O.J. (excellent w/ a splash of Cranberry as well).
Garnish w/ Orange Wedge.

Mint Julep:
Lightly Muddle powdered sugar & splash of water (or use simple syrup) w/ some mint. Add Finely Crushed Ice (a must).
Pour 1 ½ shot (6ct) Fine Kentucky Bourbon.
Garnish w/ additional Mint Sprigs & serve w/ a straw.

To 'muddle' is to simply take a spoon & lightly squish up the selected ingredients in the bottom of a glass. Then add ice & pour base liquor.

'Lightly' Muddle Fresh Mint in about 2 shots of simple syrup.
Squeeze in 1 Lime Wedge.
Pour 1 ½ shot (6ct) Amber or Light Rum.

Serve over Ice - Finish w/ Seltzer & Stir.
Garnish w/ additional Mint Sprigs if desired.

Pain Killer:
½ shot (2ct) Coconut Flavored Rum.
½ shot (2ct) Pineapple Flavored Rum.
½ shot (2ct) Amber &/or Spiced Rum.
Finish w/ 2 parts Pina Colada (1pt. Coco Lopez / 2pts. Pineapple) & 
1 part O.J.

Shake & serve over ice, up as shooter, or blended.

Pina Colada:
1 shot (4ct) Rum (preferably something smooth & amber).
1 part Cream of Coconut (preferably Cocoa Lopez).
2 parts Pineapple Juice.

Blend w/ Ice until Smooth. Add a scoop of ice cream to make it awesome. Garnish w/ a cherry & orange, or a wedge of pineapple.

To make the Kick-Ass Version…
¾ shot (3ct) Meyers Pineapple Flavored Rum.
¾ shot (3ct) Meyers Coconut Flavored Rum.
½ shot (2ct) Amber Rum (something smooth & amber).
½ shot (2ct) Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum (optional).

Blend w/ 1 part Cocoa Lopez (Coconut) & 2 parts Pineapple Juice.
You can shake this as a drink or shooter to be served up.   - Or -
Blend until smooth w/ 1 scoop Ice Cream & enough ice to make it thick. Garnish w/ wedge of pineapple & a speared cherry & orange.

Planter's Punch:
½ shot (2ct) Light Rum.
½ shot (2ct) Dark Rum (amber).
½ shot (2ct) Meyer's Dark (or dark rum).
Finish w/ 3 parts Pineapple & 1 part O.J.
Splash of Grenadine & float Apricot Brandy.

Shake & on ice as a drink. Splash Grenadine & float Brandy on top.
Honestly, just make it tropical (& a little red) & you're in good shape.  ;-)

Rose Kennedy:
1 shot (4ct) Vodka
Finish w/ Soda & a good splash of Cranberry.

Stir & serve over Ice as a drink.

1 Bottle Red Wine (something in a mid-grade wine is fine).
   You can also do this with White Wine for a summer alternative.
2 shots (8ct) Brandy.
1 shots (4ct) Cointreau (or Blackberry Brandy).
Finish w/ Juice of ½ orange (squeeze fresh) then add cut fruit: 4 slices of orange, 2 Lemon, 2 Lime, & 4 Apple (toss Apple in a bit of lemon juice beforehand). Combine all ingredients & refrigerate.

Stir & serve wine chalice w/ a mix of fruit & a splash of soda water.

Shark Bite:
¾ shot (3ct) Captain Morgan (or spiced rum).
½ shot (2 ct) Light Rum.
½ shot (2ct) Blue Curacao.
Finish w/ a dash of Grenadine.

Shake & serve up. Finish w/ a couple drops of grenadine (for blood).

Spritzer (Wine Spritzer):
White wine over ice w/ a splash of soda & a squeeze of lime.
It's a good idea to ask if they want ice or no ice…


Hope to see you soon!


New Year's Eve - Hangover Helper

Some Notes for New Year's Eve
By Rick of The Private Pro's

Although I've been in the business for well over 10 years (& have similar levels of capability in my team), The Private Professionals was actually started as a stand-alone entity at about this same time just last year. However, in only 1 year's time we've seen just over a 400% growth rate from this season over last (up from only 9 parties last year to just under 40 for this season) - which I have to assume is a profound testament to the level of service that we've been providing. 

To say that we've been busy is an understatement & I think that record speaks for itself. So rather than to bore you with a bunch of junk about us (we're currently booked until after the 1st anyway), I thought I’d just take this time to offer you a tip or two for surviving New Year's Eve... 
First (& above all else), please be responsible & don't drive if you've had a few. That really goes without saying, right? So plan ahead & book a room if you've got a big event. Then prep that night to lessen the effects of the next morning...

Rick's ultimate cure for helping the standard hangover:

  • First & foremost - EAT!  If you know you're going to be drinking a bit, then above all else be sure to eat. Nothing will hit you faster than a couple of drinks on an empty stomach. Even more, the tolerance you're normally accustomed  to will be out the window. Most of the time when people get themselves in trouble, it's not because of how much they drink but rather that they hadn't eaten when they were doing so.
  • Secondly, know your limits. Drink as you'd like, get a happy buzz on, then back off a bit. Slow down or switch to something that is more of a sipping drink. Eat a bit, & maybe grab a soda. Then pace yourself.
  • As the evening progresses, be sure to drink plenty of water. A large part of a hangover is actually due to dehydration. This will do 2 things actually. First it will help to keep you hydrated, & secondly it will also help to flush the system of unwanted toxins. Not all alcohol is as highly filtered as it should be.
  • Then a little bit before you go to bed, do 3 things: First, drink some more water (see above). Second, take a good dose of vitamins (something like a Centrum Multi-vitamin) - most of the pain you feel is your body being ravaged by antioxidants in the system. Vitamins help to combat that & allow your body to deal with such elements more readily. Lastly, take an aspirin - it helps to deal with the usual aches & headaches before they can get a foothold.
  • Finally, put these same things next to your bed so that when you wake up you can take another dose in the morning. Then when you wake up, do it all over. Drink plenty of water, take an aspirin, & a vitamin. You might also want to put some Gaviscon or antacid by your bed if you have a touchy stomach.

This will I guarantee you help reduce your usual New Year's hangover by at least 50%-70% (of course you have to be careful not to drink TOO much! This only works for your "Standard" hangover).

I wish you nothing but the best for the holiday season, & I hope the New Year finds you happy, healthy, & prosperous in all that you strive to be.   - Rick...
The Secret to a Great Irish Coffee:  Use a great dark roast coffee (preferably from a French press if able), add 1 shot of either Jameson's or Bushmill's Irish Whiskey & a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar (most people add Kaluha - don't;  a true Irish Coffee uses brown sugar). But the real secret is the whip cream. Leave the canned stuff in the 'fridge. For a really good Irish Coffee use freshly whipped slightly sweetened whipped cream available in the dairy section of your local grocery store.   Awesome for a chilly night with some good conversation!

Fall Notes: Infusions.

Some Important Notes for the Fall Season…
From Rick of The Private Professionals

I hope you've had a great summer!  It seems that the weather turned on a dime this year & the fun fall season arrived in a hurry. Personally, it's turning out to be a REALLY busy time for me, but I wanted to take a few minutes to say hi & pass along some important news.  I've got two quick but important notes, some fun news for the end of the month, & something more frivolous just for the heck of it…  

First & foremost, I want to let you know about the new websites (bigger, better & much more informative)... 

The Private Professionals:  Offering the very best in bartending, food service, & private party assistance. Currently available for literally any venue & every type of party anywhere in the DC, MD, & N.Va. regions (also with limited availability now in Baltimore!).  For more info:

And now for something fun & frivolous (but really tasty!)…

First, a fun recipe for Halloween. I stole this from Martha Stewart & tweaked it a bit to make it my own (yea, sure - I'll admit to it).  ;-)  Call it what you like, I think the official name is a "Scary Berry Martini."  My version is The Black Night. The drink uses Black Vodka; it's fun stuff - looks black but tastes just like any other mid-grade vodka. '

The Black Night: 
1 ¼ shot (5ct) Black Vodka (just check your liquor store).
¼ to ½ shot (1-2ct) Blue Curacao.
Finish w/ a little Cherry Juice, a light dash of margarita mix, & squeeze of lemon.
Shake hard & serve up as a Martini (it looks deathly black but tastes smooth & easy).

Okay, on to the good stuff…

Here's something fun, but elegant & delicious all the same time. It makes for a great conversation piece while offering your guests something truly stylish & unique. It also makes a GREAT holiday gift for loved ones.

Some time ago a friend turned me on to the craft of homemade cordials & infusions. I guess the mad scientist in me took hold because I've been experimenting ever since. Over time, I've gotten it down & I've actually come up with some REALLY good stuff. I have to tell you that you can't find this commercially. It's a truly unique product & will add some serious depth & diversity to your bar. It's also fun to play with & really quite easy to make.

Mind you, what I'm talking about here are "Infusions" - not home brewing or anything that would come even close to a distillation process. I once heard it correctly described as more like steeping tea than anything else. It's a simple process to infuse alcohol with fruit or herbal flavor, it just takes some patience. So next time you entertain, try making some select infusions or cordials & offer your guests something more intriguing than a martini.

For ALL infusions, there are a few basic principals to follow…

First, you'll obviously be working with a base alcohol. You certainly don't need a top shelf brand, but get a good mid-grade label with a flavor you generally like.

You'll also need some non-reactive aging jars.  I use the wide-mouth glass gallon-size jars you usually use to make sun tea.

After your infusion is ready you'll need to strain out any fruit & sediment. I use a simple method that triple strains the cordial. First I use a basic colander to separate the big pieces (these I mash up to get out the pure nectar in the actual fruit, but I then strain them separately for this will also have the most pulp). Then I re-filter the liqueur through a fine mesh strainer. Finally, to remove the finer particles I triple-layer the mesh strainer with cheesecloth & run it through again. The cloths may be rinsed & reused as needed. Some people say to use coffee filters but I can assure that this doesn't work & only makes a horrid mess

After straining, place the cordial on a level surface to allow the fine particles to settle for about 2-3 weeks. Once the liqueur clarifies, use a long piece of plastic tubing to carefully siphon off the clear liquid into a second container. Repeat as necessary.

Understand that the recipes NEED some time to age.  After the infusion is done don't freak out. At this point the taste will be nothing spectacular, but you'll be AMAZED at how the flavor mellows & changes with time. So transfer your liqueur into some decorative bottles with sealed lids & allow them to age for at least 2-3 months (the longer the better, no less than 30-days).

If properly sealed & stored, your cordials will keep for about 2-3 years. Well, they may keep, but I guarantee they won't last that long!  Here are some of my favorites…

Peach Infused Bourbon / Liqueur (my #1 pick!):

Makes about 1.5 liters:  you can of course do it in batches of 750ml (1 fifth)….   

     Be sure to pick peaches at their peak of sweetness - this is the key.

     8-12 Ripe Juicy Peaches.
     1 liter Bottle of a good Mid-Grade Bourbon or Brandy.
     3 strips Lemon zest.
     1 C. Sugar.   

Peel, pit, & slice the peaches. Place in saucepan, add sugar, & stir well to combine.
Warm over low heat until sugar is well dissolved & peaches are juicy.

Place peach mixture in aging container; add lemon peel, & bourbon (stirring to combine).
Cover container & put in a cool, dark place (refrigerate if necessary).
Let stand for about 3 weeks (occasionally stirring).

After 1st aging, strain the mixture through a wire colander, pressing out extra liqueur in peaches.
       - Reserve peach pulp for Peach Preserves or to use in other recipes (see below).
Re-strain through a fine wire strainer, then a third time lined w/ a triple layer of cheese cloth.

Allow to settle for about 3 weeks or until clarified.
Carefully siphon off the clear liqueur being careful to avoid any sediment.
Bottle and cap as desired (Don't freak out - the taste will vastly improve w/ a little aging).

At this point you'll have a very nice Peach Cordial. However, I usually split the liqueur into to separate bottles. One I keep as a Cordial. With the second I re-blend a bottle (750ml) of good grade bourbon back into the original liqueur - I usually use something like Jim Beam Black. This makes a really good Peach Infused Bourbon.

Allow to age for 30-60 days - you'll be amazed at how much this 2nd aging will transform the finished product.  Now you have a perfect balance of substance, character, depth, & sweetness.

Drink straight up as a cordial.  Also great over pound cake.

Bourbon & Peach Preserves:
Don't discard the peaches once you're done with the infusion! Rather, give them a quick twirl in a food processor. Then, in a large saucepan, add this mixture to about 2 cups of sugar & 1 cup of water over a medium heat. Stirring frequently, cook it down until you have a thick heavy sauce. Allow to cool & place to mason jars as a preserve (fear not, all the alcohol cooks off).  

The Infused Cosmopolitan:

I'll admit it, I like a good Cosmo. It's smooth & easy going down. But hey, don't let the pink fool ya - this stuff is a martini strength drink that'll sneak up on you if you aren't careful. So again, the mad-scientist in me experimented a bit & has now created The Infused Cosmopolitan! This is awesome for the holidays.

Ready in about 3 months.  Makes about 1.5 Liters.

   6-8 Sweet Juicy Oranges.                   1 Bag of Fresh Cranberries.         
   1 Liter Vodka.                                    2 strips lemon peel
   1/2 C. sugar                             

Peel the oranges, making sure they don't have any white pith (this is very bitter & will ruin the infusion).
Place in saucepan, add sugar, & stir over low heat until sugar is well dissolved.

Place orange mixture in aging container; add lemon peel, & Vodka (stirring to combine). Cover container & put in a cool, dark place (refrigerate if necessary). Let stand for about 3 weeks (occasionally stirring).

After 1st aging, strain the mixture through a wire colander, pressing out extra liqueur in oranges.
Re-strain through a fine wire strainer, then a third time lined w/ a triple layer of cheese cloth.

Allow to settle for about 3 weeks or until clarified.
Carefully siphon off the clear liqueur being careful to avoid any sediment.

Take 1 bag of fresh cranberries & make a quick cut in each just to break the skin. Place your orange infusion back into the aging container & add your split cranberries. Let stand for another 2 weeks.  Adjust level of sweetness to desired taste (but not too sweet!).

Strain off cranberries (just a fine wire mesh should be fine as there will be almost no pulp).
Bottle & cap in sealed decorative bottles or decanters. Allow to age for 30-60 days - this 2nd aging will transform the finished product. 

To serve, just add a splash of sweet & sour mix & shake. Serve up as a martini.

The Stoli-Dollie:

A house specialty at Capital Grille & I include it because it's a personal favorite of a very good friend of mine. But in truth, it's probably the simplest infusion there is to make…

Ready in about 3 months.  Makes about 1.5 Liters.

   1-2 Fresh Pineapples cut & cored.         
   1 Liter Vodka (you may want to use something in line w/ Stoli).  
   ½ to ¾ C. Sugar                                   

It's perfectly fine to get the pre-cut fresh pineapple w/ juice that you find at Safeway or Whole Foods (actually, it saves a lot of work). Just cut the pineapple into basically bite size chunks.
Place in saucepan, add sugar, & stir over low heat until sugar is well dissolved.

Place Pineapple mixture in aging container & add Vodka (stirring to combine).
Cover container & put in a cool, dark place (refrigerate if necessary).
Let stand for about 3 weeks (occasionally stirring).

After 1st aging, strain the mixture through a wire colander, pressing out extra liqueur in pineapple.
Re-strain through a fine wire strainer, then a third time lined w/ a triple layer of cheese cloth.

Allow to settle for about 3 weeks or until clarified.
Carefully siphon off the clear liqueur being careful to avoid any sediment.
Bottle & cap in sealed decorative bottles or decanters.

Allow to age for 30-60 days - this 2nd aging will transform the finished product. 

To serve, just shake with ice & serve up as a martini.

One final bonus…

Classic Italian Limoncello:

Limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur that's considered a national trademark. Families & private establishments often pass down individual recipes for generations. Served straight up, well chilled, it makes a perfect after dinner drink, a summer aperitif, or is often used as a palate cleanser. It also blends well with champagne & goes well over ice cream, fruit, or is used to moisten cakes.

I used a classic recipe but personally found my first attempt to be way too sweet for my taste. I'm going to tweak things a bit & see how it turns out. In the meantime, here are some good sites for the recipe if you'd like to try it on your own & get back to me…

Patty Vox:

I hope life finds you happy, healthy, & prosperous in all that you hope to be.

Rick D.~
The Private Pro's.