The Libby Cocktail with Iced Tea Vodka and St Germain + an 80th Birthday Celebration

I’ve been holding out on you. If I’ve seen a bit distant, it’s because I’ve felt a bit distant. Really. Since the beginning of February, I’ve been a party planner. At least a party planner for one party that took countless hours to plan. You see my father decided he wanted to have a surprise party for my mother’s 80th birthday. He had never given her a surprise party and I guess that is one thing he wanted to cross off his bucket list. So I feel like my second job has been party planning. Not that I mind. It was a lot of fun. It also required a lot of patience and since the party was in Phoenix it required a lot of faith. Well, we celebrated my mom’s birthday on Saturday and I must say it was the first time I ever saw her speechless. My dad was in 7th heaven that he pulled it off.

I am now in perfect party planning mode for the upcoming bridal shower we are planning for a friend. That will be so much easier because it will be in our backyard and I will do the cooking. The first issue we had to resolve for my mom’s celebration was where to have the party. After looking at all the major resorts my father decided that he wasn’t giving a wedding; he was giving a party and once we decided on Soul Cafe (one of my parent’s favorite restaurants), the planning became a whole lot easier. Sheila was so easy to work with; not like all the stick in the mud resorts. She allowed my creativity to shine and was open to any menu ideas and recipes. Her staff was the huggy, warm kind and they outdid themselves Saturday night.

So how does one give an 80th surprise party? Very carefully! My brothers, family and Dad were so careful to watch what we said; which meant I couldn’t let you in on my secret life because my mother does read this blog. Sorry I haven’t been posting like usual, but this took a lot of planning. With my cousin and Aunt’s help we actually had a really fun party. I love details so I think you will see some of them in the photos. I didn’t get to take as many photos as I wanted but at least they convey the mood. We had great paper decorations that I found on Etsy and had shipped from Israel of all places. I hung tissue paper flowers from the Palo Verdes tree in the courtyard and we had two gigantic orange balloons that also were major focal points. The tassel garlands were so festive hanging on the head table. I think all the happy colors put everyone in a great mood. The flowers were fabulous and perfectly matched the paper goods. The hot pink votives really made the tables glow. The ribbons around the napkins added extra color and the name cards were fun and carefully placed. Zoe did a play list of oldies and goodies and though we couldn’t hear them well they still added to the ambiance.

The menu consisted of many of Mom’s junk food favorites and Sheila even made a raspberry cake from her past when I supplied the recipe, but personally I like her chocolate cupcakes better. Well, really I liked the homemade potato chips and onion dip even more! All the food was served family style which I think makes for a more casual atmosphere. The most fun part of the evening in my opinion, was the homemade fortune cookies, also found on Etsy. I wrote 48 different fortunes and everyone had to stand and read them to my mother before we left. It ย ended the party on a high note and I can’t wait to adapt this idea to other events. Not only were the cookies pretty, they also tasted fabulous! ย Fortunately Yours was the best! We also sent everyone home with bags of caramel corn from Garrett’s in Chicago, because my mom loves caramel corn.

Below is the speech I gave for mom:

Well, Mom. We got you good this time and on a momentous occasion like this, there are a few things worth remembering. I know your mind is probably not as clear as mine, (after all, I am younger), so travel back in time with me if you will.

First let me mention that I am writing this in pen. I haven’t written anything in pen in a long time except for the occasional check. You probably still write in pen-because you are old. Whoops. 80 years young to be politically correct. Whoops! no politics at this party for fear of offending the wrong side!

So on to our back in time adventure. Next to Dad, Aunt Shirley and Aaron, I believe I have known you the longest. Which means I am old, too. But not as old as you. This means you have loved me longer than people like my brothers, which of course must mean you love me the most!

Being the only girl and the oldest also means I’m there for all those special moments in your life. I’m there to help move you. I’m there to help care for you. I’m there to help plan this party. It means I’ve got your back, Mom. just like you’ve had mine all these years.

Being your daughter means I’ve had special bathroom moments with you that my brothers never did. My mornings began as I walked into the bathroom and saw you on the pot with a lit cigarette. You said not a word to me until you had the first cup of coffee which was waiting for you in the kitchen. As you exited the bathroom you left me pondering the meaning of my existence and what actually was my place in the world. Two things were accomplished in this bathroom moment. #1 I’ve never had a desire to smoke and #2 I’ve never figured out my reason for being.

Being the only girl allowed me to raid your closet for the latest fashions. You always had the trendiest stuff and looking back at your old photos I realize what a trend setter you were and WHAT A POSER! I also raided your lingerie drawer but not for the lingerie. We all know you had a GIANT Hershey’s bar with almonds hidden in its depths. No, it wasn’t me that discovered this, it was my brother David.

Being the only girl also allowed me to watch as you created yourself in the bathroom before an evening out-of which you had many. I witnessed those special moments as you wiggled yourself into a girdle with garters and later tummy control panty hose. You then applied blue eye makeup, eye liner and doused yourself in Shalimar, which I believed help rid the bathroom of smoke. All this was done while Dad patiently waited for you. You were always late and I presume it is because you wanted to make a grand entrance.

And what an entrance you made tonight. It will not be forgotten. Dad called a few months ago and said the one thing he had never done was throw you a surprise party. I believe he finally achieved his goal.

Being your child gave me an appreciation of all things fine. Alex would say that you probably started the “Finer Things Club”. Fine wine, fine food, fine art, books, travel and music are important to you. Thank you for helping me achieve the “culture” you always felt was important.

In your own way you have given me a love of Judaism and that is still a big part of my life. I am thankful for that. You have shown me what a good man is without saying a word. You have shown me that even though a Virgo is known for being fussy, fastidious, harsh, conservative and judgmental, they are also intelligent, practical and reliable. All good skills for being a mother.

In conclusion, I can only hope to live to 80. I can only hope my life is half as good as yours appears to be. I can only hope that the next 80 years are better than the first. Being a mother is not easy. I’m grateful that you made it look easy for the last 57 years, well, except of course for those Virgo moments. I’m grateful you are my mom. Happy Birthday!

and the fortunes:


Last, but not least Manservant and I created a cocktail which we called “The Libby”, ย named after my mom. It combined St. Germain, iced tea vodka and lemon. Let me tell you these slide easily down your throat and went perfectly with our picnic style meal. This is the perfect summer drink, but be careful. They go down easy! OK. I know this is a super long post, but I must document history! It is hard to make my mom speechless!

The Libby (Serves 1)
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz St. Germain
2 oz Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka (we did some taste comparisons with these)
2 drops grapefruit bitters
Club soda to taste

Stir into a tall Collins glass. (We used a 14 oz glass.) Fill with ice cubes. Add club soda to rim sand garnish with a lemon slice.

Other fun drinks and nibbles:
St Germain Arnold Palmers
St Germain Lemon Aid
The Gardener Cocktail
Saigon Crunch Chex Mix
Buttery Garlic Parmesan Potato Chips
3 Ingredient Artichoke Dip

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  • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    May 30, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Such a wonderful party you planned for your mother, Abbe! She is as adorable now as she was in her bathing-beauty photo ๐Ÿ™‚ You must feel very proud of what your did and I'm certain your mother is just as proud of you ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations to you father for coming up with the idea and to your mother on her 80th!

  • Shirley Tay
    May 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    OMG, what a great celebration! Those fortune cookies are adorable, dear! Love the bathing suit shot ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Sippity Sup
    May 29, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Oh. I have tears in my eyes. Well done. GREG

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 30, 2015 at 12:27 am

      Aww, Greg. The drink wasn't that bad, was it? Thanks, sweetie.

  • dedy oktavianus
    May 29, 2015 at 8:46 am

    damn delicious refreshing drink…
    but i think elderly birthday celebration and vodca is not a a great combination, lol
    [email protected] Chef

  • Cheri Savory Spoon
    May 29, 2015 at 2:45 am

    Hi Abbe, what an amazing party you put together for your mom, you sound like such an amazing thoughtful person . Your family is so lucky to have you as a role model.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 29, 2015 at 5:04 am

      Well, I'm not sue of role model, but I'll take it. thanks Cheri. Hope you are doing OK!

  • Libby Weiner
    May 28, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Wow ! I'm still surprised that I appeared in a bathing suit on your blog. Glad I was much younger. Thank you, dear Abbe for a spectacular party.You should share the raspberry cake recipe also. After all these years, it is still one of my favorites. For anyone i nterested, the Libby is really good.Love, Mom

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 29, 2015 at 5:04 am

      Any time, Mom! And the raspberry cake will make it one of these days!

  • Debra Eliotseats
    May 28, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    What a great party! I can't imagine the planning that went into this. I love, love, love that you created a cocktail for your mom.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 29, 2015 at 5:03 am

      Well. Creating cocktails is fun. Because you get to drink your mistakes!

  • Karen (Back Road Journal)
    May 28, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    It sounds like your mother's party was fun from the beginning with the Libby cocktail to the end with the fortune cookies. A job well done by all.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 29, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Thanks Karen. Takes a team to give a party!

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
    May 28, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Aww. what a wonderful surprise. I know Libby would be over the moon at the party, the surprise and this gorgeous drink named after her. Happy Birthday and as the fortune says, if you can live to 80 you may as well live to 100. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 29, 2015 at 5:02 am

      May as well, Maureen! But if she turns 100, I'm not sure I will be able to throw the same kind of party!

  • Angie Schneider
    May 28, 2015 at 5:08 am

    I bet it was a GREAT party for ALL. Maybe you should be into the party organizing biz, Abbe. You deserve another libby drink!
    Have a marvelous day!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 29, 2015 at 5:01 am

      I've done party planning and I love it. Must have connections though!

  • Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    May 28, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Oh a party and a recipe! Bravo Abbe – you did it! Congratulations to Mom on 80 wonderful years and I wish you many more. The speech is priceless. You have a lovely humor and I bet your mom loved it. You can relax now for the rest of the summer ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 28, 2015 at 2:44 am

      Thanks Tricia! I spent two hours at the pool trying to come up with it! Of course I left that for the last. Big mistake!

  • Karen Harris
    May 28, 2015 at 1:58 am

    OMG, how fun, fun, fun! It looks like it was a great party. You and your dad really did a great job. Love the menu.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 28, 2015 at 2:42 am

      It was fun Karen! An now we have a new cocktail I know you will like! If summer ever gets here and my flowers get planted we can sip a few! Thanks!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    May 28, 2015 at 1:37 am

    What a fun time that must have been! And what a swell thing to do. I can imagine how delighted your mom was. And your dad, too. And that's a terrific cocktail you created — so nice for warm weather. Fun post. Thanks for inviting all of us to the party, at least virtually. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      May 28, 2015 at 2:41 am

      After it was ll over and I could take a drink I realized it turned out pretty good. And we all lived happily ever after! Thanks John!