There are few tastes I dislike more than lemon and alcohol, (coffee and olives are way worse, though,) so when I got invited to this mixology contest featuring Limoneira lemons, at first I balked.

The happening scene on Esterel's patio. Photo by Karen Salkin.

The happening scene on Esterel’s patio. Photo by Karen Salkin.

But then I noticed that the invitation, (which was really cute, by the way,) also listed “great music” and “delicious food,” two of my favorite things. So, I could not resist. And, it was correct on both counts!

On top of that, it was being held on the patio of Esterel restaurant at Sofitel. I always love any fete at that West Hollywood hotel, and I’ve wanted to try the food at Esterel for awhile now, so it was all a winning situation. (More on the fare in a minute.)

But all the guests were really there for the innovative alcoholic concoctions, invented by the competing bartenders around town. (This is part of a series of competitions that will take place around the world in the next year, in places like New York, Chicago, and Hong Kong.) The contestants were in a roped-off area, and we were able to watch then whip-up their original cocktails. The only requirement was that they use the Limoneira lemons in some way.

The shot glasses containing the entries. Photo by Karen Salkin.

The shot glasses containing the entries. Photo by Karen Salkin.

After they poured a glass for each judge, they put the rest out in little glasses, for the guests. I don’t drink, but my friend Alice tried some. Good thing she wasn’t on the judging panel because she could not decide on a winner!

The victor to me, of course, was the generous food! They passed appetizers all night, each one differently and attractively presented. Alice went most for the mixture of red quinoa and goat cheese, and duck slices served on forks, while I stuck with chicken salad in spoons, and the most delicious shrimp I think I’ve ever tasted!

If this had been a dessert-buffet-setting-up competition, the staff at Esterel would have won! I happened to be near the table, watching the mixology contest, when they started artfully arranging the desserts. Their work was beautiful to watch! And I believe that they also incorporated the Limoneira lemons into several of the confections. Very clever. (There was not a chocolate sweet in the bunch!)

The dessert buffet.  Photo by Karen Salkin.

The dessert buffet. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Everything was so delish that we just had to meet their amiable French Executive Chef Marius Blin afterwards. He was adorable, and we told him we’ll definitely be back to eat dinner there soon.

The whole time, we were entertained by DJ Eric Ill. He was the best DJ I’ve heard in ages, since I ran hip-hop clubs here in LA, and worked with my own DJs on the playlists. This guy played great music, (Alice and I were the only two fun guests, though; we just could not keep from dancing to his tunes!,) and he did it all at the perfect volume for the party, so as to not intrude on the many conversations. He put us all in good moods.

To finish-off the theme of the evening, we each left with a lemon-hued gift bag containing–you guessed it—two different kinds of Limoneira lemons! (There were other little gifts, too, of course.) I know that this company also produces oranges, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they have an orange beverage contest soon. I’m already there!!!


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