Rae celebrated his 40th birthday this year and I really wanted to make it special. Working in teevee, it’s so hard to get everyone together, and I knew that all he wanted was to be surrounded by his favourite people.
I rented the Brunswick Room of The Academy of Spherical Arts for the shin-dig and began planning. Originally I had intended it to be a surprise, but a few days before, the cat got out of the bag…it was a good thing because we were able to add a bunch of people that I would’ve missed!
Weeks before, I started thinking of a design for the invite…it needed to be slick and a look that I could carry throughout the party. I’m in advertising after all…I brand, art direct and design everything I do!
I decided to adapt one of my favourite graphic designers famous poster from the Magnificent 7…you know the one! No, not the crappy image on YouTube…I just wanted you to hear the theme. Saul Bass was a genius…minimalist…brilliant! This is the one! You’re still listening to the song, aren’t you?
From the invite came the idea to cask-aged a cocktail as a take-home, and what other than a Negroni so perfectly embodies a man like Rae. I got in contact with a local winemaker and was able to purchase a charred oak barrel, sourced some apothecary-style bottles and other rustic looking supplies to package the completed cocktail, and away I went. For those wanting to try this at home…here’s where I found the recipe.
The funny thing is that I blended, casked, and stored the full cask under my desk so as not to be discovered by Rae….good thing it didn’t smell!
After five weeks of careful rotating, swirling and sampling, my Negroni’s were ready! I bottled, labeled, boxed and hand-sealed each package with a custom wax seal and ribbon. Thanks to the boys at Gas for making the die AND helping me create a beautiful linen-wrapped casebound book that everyone signed!
The batch yielded a little short, so I quickly whipped up a design for some teeshirts and had the lovely folks at Artik print them for me…you’ll see a shot of one that made it all the way to Roma!
Rae Day was a magnificent success, I got to treat him to a special night surrounded by the most important people in his life and loved that people were wowed with my little swag.
Enjoy the photos (taken by Rae!), and here’s the text from the back of the bottle:
one part gin, one part sweet, & one part bitter
because yin would be boring without yang.
A drink premised on being the perfect blend: sweet balanced by savoury. Inspired by a man with a penchant for dirty intercom jokes, but asked you about your grandmother’s health on the way in.
Thoughtfully balanced and well presented never goes out of style.
This cocktail has been specially blended and cask-aged for you by Natalie in celebration of Rae’s fortieth birthday. Pour over ice and serve with a twist
Rae Upton | June 3rd 1972
Love you sweetie – I hope that you’ll always remember 40!