You're Invited: Secret Soiree

Celebrate anything in these tucked-away spots sure to impress your guests.

You don’t have to spend this month celebrating love. February in Austin brings myriad, wonderful, completely-not-love-related excuses to throw a party: budding trees, Singles Awareness Day (February 15th), the marathon and half-marathon mid-month, Carnaval Brasileiro on the 28th. Still looking for a reason? Why not throw a party to celebrate the lack of any festival in town this month. Call it an ATX insider bash, and—this is where we can help—host it somewhere unexpected, somewhere your guests haven’t seen before. Show them a new corner of town and that alone is plenty of reason to pop some bubbly.


Justine's Secret House

Justine’s Secret House is an opulent Victorian House with a New Orleans-style garden tucked away on East 7th Street. Invite 48 of your closest friends for a seated dinner or 165 for a cocktail party. “The house channels what’s fun and decadent about Justine’s Brasserie as a restaurant into a private party—in a space that’s part Chateau Marmont, part haunted New Orleans Victorian, part hidden Parisian salon,” says events director Erika Stojeba. “Think rock-n-roll records, salade de crabe and Boeuf Bourguignon on antique plates, beautiful wines, and a staff that loves throwing parties!”

Still brand new, the Justine’s team has experimented with the space in order to get themselves better acquainted with it, Stojeba explains. “We held Justine’s birthday there with Chinese take-out and champagne and a French mariachi band; Tina Rivera shot a music video for the Black Angels; Make.Eat.Drink Pop-up Dinner benefited Big Medium and brought together artists like Keith Kreeger and chefs from Justine’s, Qui, Odd Duck, and Uchiko; and we even replicated Gertrude Stein’s Paris salon there for a fundraiser.” Stojeba’s best tip for throwing a successful soiree? “Always give guests a cocktail when they arrive, making everyone feel instantly welcome,” she says. “No two parties will ever be the same, so be open and interested in what unfolds!”

Kontiki Fun Boat

Self-dubbed “Austin’s best party barge,” your Kontiki Fun Boat soiree will likely lean more Austin-weird than chic, but that’s perfect after all, right? The boat is full of island-style charm, bedecked in cheery tomato red trim and bamboo. An aluminum roof overhead of the boat will protect from the Texas sun, and the boat includes all of the necessary amenities: a generator for small appliances like blenders or margarita machines, two, six-foot tables to set up drinks or food, two large marine coolers, a truly impressive stereo with iPod and Mp3 compatibility, and yes, even a restroom.

The boat leaves out of Walsh Landing just north of Hula Hut and Abel’s on the Lake on Lake Austin. Comfortably seating up to 40, the boat is helmed by a captain who will help facilitate your soirée. Want to bring a small band on board to entertain your guests? Kontiki can accommodate you. Another pro tip? Plan on picking up food from any of the Lake Austin joints—why not go with a Mexican theme, bring aboard some margarita machines and stop to grab grub at Maudie’s or Hula Hut? And if we happen to get a scorching early spring day in the forecast, don’t worry about that either—Kontiki keeps foam noodles on board, too, just in case any of your guests require a dip.


The Flour House at La Condesa

Winter months have you craving something subterranean? Consider hosting a party at The Flour House, which seats up to 20 and boasts no room fee for parties of 11 or more who book the space. Originally dug out as a basement to a brewery in the 1860s and rediscovered during the build out of La Condesa in 2009, the Flour House subsequently served as a basement of a successful general store owned by Austin’s Schneider family. During prohibition, it was also used to store barrels of beer and whiskey. Today, it’s a two-room structure that offers separate spaces for cocktails and family-style dining

Need more convincing? Consider the famous clientele who have hosted Flour House soirees. “We have hosted quite a few notable guests in the Flour House,” says Alexis Lanman, director of marketing and events for Violet Crown. “Some of our favorites included Thom Yorke, Johnny Depp, Beck, and Anthony Bourdain (not at the same time, although that would be a sweet guest list).” Lanman’s best party tip—besides tequila and good food? “Communicating with your guests ahead of time is key,” Lanman says. “Let them know about the family-style format, where to park (valet is complimentary for guests dining at La Condesa), and how the bill will be paid ahead of time. Sharing this information ensures you and your guests have a flawless experience.”

Your Own Backyard

Think about it—is there anything more uniquely you (and therefore uniquely Austin) than your very own space? Why not throw a vintage tea or cocktail party in your own backyard? (Or front yard, or condo living room—you get the picture.) Sophie Parrott is the owner of the Marvelous Vintage Tea Party Company, which is Austin’s only vintage-inspired entertainment, décor and party provider, specializing in fantastical experiences centered around food, tea and, Parrot says, “utter joy!” The Marvelous Vintage Tea Party Company is a lighthearted, beautiful marriage of the decadent and lavish celebration that is a classic English tea with the fun-loving quirkiness of Austin.

Parrott says she prefers to meet with clients to determine what might be best for their fête: “I adore chatting, or meeting with each client to really get to the root of what they adore,” she says. “Emails just don’t convey personality like a good ol’ chin-wagging-session over a nice cuppa tea.” Parrott can provide furniture, props, décor, food, music, and in-character staff for your soirée, in addition to tea and “tetails,” so your space can quite easily transform into something ever-so-slightly more magical with Parrott’s help. And magic is always worth celebrating.


Photography by Andrew Chan

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