If you’re fed up with long lines and crowded clubs, meet the people who’ll elevate your house party into a high-quality affair.
If Toronto’s club scene was the subject of a movie, it would likely be a horror flick: long lines patrolled by self-righteous bouncers, irritating beats blaring way too loud for conversation, and worst of all, dancefloors packed so dense you practically need to crowdsurf over herds of revelers just to catch the bartender’s attention. It’s often hardly as glamorous as it seems.
There is an alternative, however, to the treacherous shoulder-to-shoulder sweat factories of King and Queen West: Let the pros bring the bar to you.
Forget microwaveable appetizers and a hastily-curated iPod playlist. Instead, imagine turning your own home into the perfect place to party.
The allure of partying at home is flexibility, says Jordan Meagher, the lead planner at Melissa Andre Events. If you’re allergic to wheat, for example, you can arrange to do the whole party gluten-free. “It’s a much more custom experience.” Meagher says. “There are hardly any restrictions. And of course, there’s no last call!”
The other principal benefit lies in ensuring the kind of quality service you just can’t get at a bar. Unlike the server who ignores you for a living, someone you hire is there for, well, you.
Trevor Burnett specializes in creating just this type of experience. He’s a world-class bartender who’s mixed drinks for celebs like Ben Kingsley and Spike Lee, and appeared on ET Canada to teach the hosts how to make a perfect New Year’s Eve cocktail. He’s also the guy serving up southern cocktails in a new series of ads from the LCBO. Over the years, Burnett has tended bars in Europe, on cruise ships, and even at the Hôtel Le Germain in downtown Toronto. But in August 2010, he gave up his vest and bow tie and turned his attention to something a little more homespun: the house party. Tipicular Fixin’s, the company Burnett founded with Whitney Munro, will liven up your jam with the finest alcohols, mixes, bitters, herbs, zests, and of course snacks, tailored to your every request.
In a party setting, Burnett is much more than just a bartender. His company was born out of his breadth of experiences, which includes studying theatre and improv with Second City, where he went as far as touring with the company as an understudy. Although his days with Second City are over, Burnett will tell you he never gave up the art of showmanship.
“What I did in theatre will always [be] a big element of what I do,” he explains. “It’s a performance.”
Having hired Tipicular Fixin’s for her last three Christmas parties at her home near Jane and St. Clair, Toronto lawyer patti cross says she agrees. “Trevor doesn’t just serve drinks, he’s the life of my parties. Lots of people in my social circle have kids, so we don’t really go out to the clubs. But they bring their kids here for the party, throw ‘em in the basement, and Trevor has [non-alcoholic] drinks and entertainment for them too.”
Like any artist, Burnett is never satisfied with his craft. He’s constantly experimenting with new ingredients, obsessively travelling to party destinations like Chicago, New Orleans, and Bermuda to learn more about the products he serves. Burnett is also known to serve up cocktails made with everything from egg whites and almond tea syrups to foamy nitrous oxide.
In his efforts to change the face of the hospitality industry, Burnett has built Tipicular Fixin’s into far more than a catering service. “Caterers do a specific thing, and they can be great, but we take that basic template and apply it to a much smaller, more intimate setting,” he says.
So how does this experience compare to what you’d spend out on the town? When you tally up an average night of clubbing (cabs, cover, drinks, and the customary 3 a.m. pulled pork poutine), Tipicular Fixin’s actually proves easier on the wallet. While prices vary depending on how lavish you want to go, estimate you’ll spend about $25-$75 a head.
“Before I discovered Trevor and Tipicular Fixin’s, I was buying a bunch of wine and beer, and hiring a caterer,” says cross. “And remarkably, this ends up costing the same as that.”
Try remembering that the next time you’re stranded in line at the club.