The Catalina Wine Mixer was only a thing of legend—a fabulous, wonderful event that occurred as the luxe, be-all, end-all event at the end of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly‘s 2008 comedy, Stepbrothers. It was a fictional fabrication that is, until last weekend, when the Santa Catalina Island Company partnered up with the Descano Beach Club to make fantasy a reality. Haute Living was on hand to experience the first-ever Catalina Wine Mixer. Here is what we experienced from the sold-out event—and what you’ll find next year during the mixer’s sophomore year…because it will be back. To that we can only quote Rob Riggle and say: “Pow pow!”
As Will Ferrell tells Adam Scott in Stepbrothers, he wants to work the Catalina Wine Mixer because he “wants to make bank, bro.” With a ticket price of $35 for general admission and $100 for VIP (which included three hours of free drinking at the Descano Beach Club and a buffet of nibbles), trust that your piggy bank won’t need to be bust open. However, you will be asked to pay per glass when you enter the mixer at each booth. Guests were able to take helicopter rides back and forth from Long Beach or San Pedro to Catalina courtesy of Island Express Helicopters, or book the Commodore’s Lounge of the Catalina Express (hello captain!). Cabanas were also available for those who decided to take a break from the wine and revelry, get in a good snooze and prepare themselves to jam to The Dan Band, a comedic singing duo that’s been featured in many Ferrell comedies such as Old School. Alas, there were no cast sightings at the first annual event, but there’s always next year, right?
Photo Credit: The Aurora Hotel
If you’re not staying in a private home owned by the Wrigley family (yes, those Wrigleys—they own the island) we recommend booking the Celebrity Suite at the Aurora Hotel. In addition to its own private entrance, this suite has a King-size Tempurpedic Bed, a massive flat screen television, fireplace and bar, a multi-head shower with an ocean view, reclining rockers that will lull you to sleep while you watch the sea, and etched glass shoji-style screens to divide your suite if you have family or friends sharing the expansive space. Head up to the rooftop sitting area with a glass of wine and watch the sunset; it’s a view you truly don’t want to miss.
The Aurora Hotel, 137 Marilla Ave, Avalon, CA 90704, (310) 510-0454
Photo Credit: The Santa Catalina Island Company
If you’re seeking a gourmet meal with epic views, check out The Avalon Grille. Here you’ll find fine dining at its best, though in the relaxed upscale way that’s Catalina’s signature thanks to a gorgeous, thoughtful menu and a lovely ambiance provided by open air dining, high ceilings, an outside patio and lively central bar. The fare here can be described as New American with a regional, seasonal approach with lovely items like lavender roast chicken with barley risotto, wild arugula, cherries and asparagus and miso cured bass with orange puree, scallions and lotus root dominating its menu. Make sure to grab a craft cocktail like an island-friendly Cantaloupe Martini with Ketel One Oranje Vodka, Watermelon Pucker and orange juice or a mico-brew and settle down in front of the large bay windows to catch the action outside.
The Avalon Grille, 423 Crescent Ave, Avalon, CA 90704, (310) 510-7494