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CHICAGO It's not every night that go-go dancers perform atop illuminated cubes in the ballroom of the Peninsula Chicago, but such was the case on Tuesday night, when Ultimat Vodka overtook the venue for its Ultimat Summer Soiree. Intended to create buzz for the vodka, which was launched in the Chicago market last year, the cocktail reception drew some 775 members of the local nightlife industry, including bartenders, bar owners, and brand retailers.
When it came to choosing a location for the affair, “We didn't want to give one of the large bars [that carry our product] preferential treatment, so we needed a venue that would be kind of Switzerland,” said Pam Dzierzanowski, director of events at Ultmat parent Patron Spirits Company. The Peninsula Chicago was an ideal fit for the affair, said Dzierzanowski, because ”We wanted to be downtown, we wanted to have a rooftop patio as well as an indoor space, and our brand—and the hotel—are super premium.”
To ensure that the vodka brand's message was received, Dzierzanowski and her team worked with event producers from All Terrain to fill the hotel with logo-bearing tropes. Outside the venue, a branded car—shipped in from Los Angeles for the evening—stood curbside. Inside, models wearing bejeweled Ultmat T-shirts directed guests toward the event. Servers passed specialty cocktails on trays illuminated in cobalt blue (the brand's signature hue), and in the ballroom, logoed pillows dressed white lounge furniture. A black-and-white image booth photographed guests clutching Ultimat cocktails; throughout the evening, the photos were showcased on a six-screen video wall in the center of the dance floor and on a stretched projection screen that decorated the wall of the rooftop patio.
Dzierzanowski said her greatest concern for the evening was ensuring that the cocktail reception didn't disrupt concurrent activity at the hotel. The Peninsula “is a well-oiled machine, and we didn't want to stop what they were doing,” she said. Toward that end, Dzierzanowksi focused on staffing. ”The minute guests got in, they were greeted. Then, there were coat-check points, the next step would be showing IDs—it was all about keeping the little steps smooth and organized,” so that guests knew exactly where to go, she said.