Best Party of the Year (2006)

TARA, Ink/T-Mobile Launch

Planning the perfect party takes a little bit of practical chemistry: Bring together a mix of people from enough different social subsets to make for interesting, convivial conversation. But make sure they are not from worlds so alien that guests have nothing at all to say. Serve enough food to sate the starving without stultifying the gluttonous. Lubricate with enough alcohol to loosen inhibitions without encouraging regrettable hookups or, worse, drunken brawls. Find a sponsor generous enough to underwrite the festivities who doesn't subsequently become a demanding boor. And then there's the intangible type of chemistry that just clicks into place, turning an enjoyable but predictable shindig (something that happens almost every night of the year in Miami Beach) into one for the record books. Such an alignment of the stars occurred November 15, 2005, when the celebrity publicists (and publicists to celebrities) of TARA, Ink gave a coming-out party for Douglas Rodriguez's new incarnation of famed Caribbean fusion restaurant OLA at the Savoy on Ocean Drive -- it is located, by the way, in the former home of Rolling Stone Ron Wood's nightclub. The event was on the tab of cell phone and Sidekick service providers T-Mobile, which was simultaneously launching new incarnations of the personal communication devices. It turned out the electronics moguls were the consummate sponsors, rocking the party with witty chat and mingling easily. "I love Miami Beach," commented T-Mobile executive Mark Stockdale. "It's different -- way different than Seattle, where I'm from, but that's the idea." OLA was populated that evening not only by tech-talkin' geeks but also by local scenesters on their best behavior: Kimona, the National Hotel's iconic lounge singer; designer Esteban Cortazar; club owner Nicola Siervo; and Tara Solomon herself, possibly the most gracious hostess ever to simultaneously take a phone call, balance a martini, and personally escort a guest to the restroom in four-inch heels. Yet there were enough civilians -- starving artists and writers, people's parents and grandparents, and even a few children -- to make milling mandatory and introductions painless. The drinks were paired with Rodriguez's magnificent ceviche snacks, crab puffs, spring rolls, and lobster tarts, which led to a full-fledged four-course meal. Guests left full, happy, and madly craving a Hello Kitty-theme Sidekick of their very own. That's the key to party perfection: Satisfy every desire, yet make guests want more. Definitely one for the record books.


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