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Why Albert Einstein Inspired This Cocktail Party

The Washington Business Journal focused on innovation and imagination at its 10th annual Book of Lists party.

By D. Channing Muller February 1, 2017, 7:15 AM EST

Photo: Courtesy of ©The Washington Business Journal

10th Annual Book of Lists Party
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Every January, the Washington Business Journal releases its annual Book of Lists, which compiles all of the “Best of...” business lists that had been published each week of the previous year. The publication celebrates the lists with a cocktail party, and promotes networking between the businesses and the public.

The 10th anniversary party on Thursday brought nearly 800 people to the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater for the second year in a row. This year, event organizers looked to Albert Einstein for design inspiration.

“We had this year’s innovators from throughout greater Washington photographed at [Einstein’s] statue in D.C. for the cover of the book, so we tried to bring that throughout the venue with an Innovation and Imagination theme,” said Joslyn Hanna, events manager at the newspaper. “We focused on serving innovative drinks and food and [tech-focused] entertainment elements.”

Hanna turned to Ridgewells Catering to create the menu, which included passed hors d’oeuvres and desserts as well as food stations. Ridgewells used the event to debut all-new recipes like the watermelon sushi, golden hamachi tartare, and espresso-crusted beef.

The main bar served three specialty cocktails, while the second-floor bar also served a parfait dessert inspired by the Philippines—a hot region for catering inspiration this year—made with bourbon caramel panna cotta layered with vanilla bean peach compote, crushed ice, sweet bourbon cream, and cornbread streusel and topped with a scoop of brown butter ice cream and candied bacon.

“We were looking to create new ways to tie in Albert Einstein’s sense of innovation and his creative, imaginative way of seeing things differently,” said Ridgewells’ senior event designer, Blythe Smith. “We wanted to take food people had seen but present it in a new way.”

Technology also came into the mix from both a nostalgic point of view and a futuristic one. In the V.I.P. area, guests could channel their inner child on an oversize Lite-Brite board. Snap Entertainment also staffed a virtual-reality station where guests could use Google Tilt Fresh programming to do virtual painting.

Hanna also enlisted Sharp Business Systems to provide its Aquos smart boards where guests could leave a message for someone they wanted to see or meet at the event. As guests walked by, they could see if anyone had left them a message.

“It was a way for people to meet up with one another or make business connections, since the space and event was so large,” said Hanna.

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