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Stoli's Spirited Party at El Flamingo

February 27, 2002, 12:00 AM EST

Stolichnaya Vodka marketing campaign launch El Flamingo Thursday, 02.21.02, 6 PM to 10 PM
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If a hard-to-find address lends hipness to New York nightclubs, does the same hold true for a corporate party venue? The event planners for Stolichnaya made the case that it does. The launch party for the Russian vodka maker's new advertising campaign was hard to pin down, as the venue changed twice before Stoli finally found a home. The original locale, the Russian Consulate, was nixed after the invitations were mailed thanks to a legal battle between Stoli's American and Moscow divisions. Then emails went to invited guests advising them that the party had moved to Eyebeam Atelier, but it got bumped when the uber-hip raw space had a scheduling conflict. Finally, the party landed across the street from Eyebeam at El Flamingo, the home of The Donkey Show.

Event designer Joseph Cady (who runs Eyebeam) and caterer Mark Fahrer Caterers used Stoli's new advertising campaign as a launch pad for the evening's theme. “I was inspired by their ads,” Cady told us. “They were strong visually and were wonderful elements to start with.” The ads for the vodka maker's flavored spirits prominently feature origami animals like eagles and butterflies with such slogans as “A genuine Russian vodka, what a rare species.” So Cady incorporated origami elements made by Origami USA throughout the venue. In the lobby, origami frogs were nestled among bamboo shoots; in the main room 12 bamboo trees had origami butterflies and eagles sitting on the branches. And the centerpieces for all 20 tables were small pots with origami flowers and butterflies.

More traditional Russian influences came in the form of caterwaiters dressed as Russian guards manning the entryway and lobby, and a preponderance of red (in carpet, lighting and candle holders). And in keeping with the ad campaign, two of the guards held live eagles outside of the club. The main showpiece was a stage with a vodka bar, featuring an eagle ice sculpture (by Ice Fantasies) and vodka chilling in blocks of ice. From behind the bar, Stolichnaya and advertising execs gave a presentation about the new campaign, and later held a short session on proper martini-making (sans gin, of course).

Hungry guests went to different food and drink stations--one for each of Stoli's five flavored vodkas, as well as the basic brand--and ate appropriately-themed fare. The Stoli Vanil station offered a sushi bar, vanilla bean ice cream and cream with bananas flambe with Vanil vodka. The Stoli Razberi station featured duck framboise and .phpberry tartlets. The Stoli Red (the basic vodka) station featured red bean ice cream and beef tenderloin served with red hollandaise sauce. Throughout the evening, caterwaiters passed around trays of hors d'oeuvres like crab cakes, piroshki and baby lamb chops. Of course, vodka was the drink of choice.

--Erika Rasmusson

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