(231) 383-5156Elberta, Michigan 49628

Best Professional Bartenders!

It’s pretty common for students to work in restaurants and bars during college. I’ve definitely put in my time as a waitress and cocktail server, working late nights, and hoping for decent tips to get me through another semester. But the professional bartenders and servers with Crystal Lake Catering Company are a whole ‘nother breed. Most of these folks have a different outlook on their jobs, and it shows in their work performance.

First of all, CLCC bartenders are certified in alcohol service management through the TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) program, offered through the Professional Bartending Schools of America, Inc. This means they have the confidence and skills to diffuse any trouble that may be alcohol-related at events.

These bartenders also have a unique pride in working for Crystal Lake Catering because they typically are serving drinks that are grown, produced, and packaged right here in Northern Michigan. This includes hand-crafted beer from breweries such as Stormcloud Brewing Company, Frankfort; Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City; and Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire. There are extensive wineries throughout the region, too numerous to mention, but some of my favorites include Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay; Left Foot Charley, Traverse City; and Chateau Fontaine, Lake Leelanau. A new, and delicious option, comes from meaderies—namely St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (oh, that tangy, crisp ginger mead is perfect for a hot day), and Acoustic Brewing Company, Lake Ann. Not to be overlooked is an organic, hard cider from Northern Naturals Winery & Cidery, situated in Traverse City.

All of these beers, wines, meads, and ciders are just a hint of the rich, diverse offerings from our special corner of Northern Michigan! One of the bartenders I spoke with mentioned how he loves to recommend not only the great, local wines, but that it’s great to be able to recommend how they pair so well with the fresh whitefish entree offered on the Crystal Lake Catering menu. He said, “It ties in with sharing our Up North lifestyle with the folks that come here. It’s just an allover great feeling to serve these guests!”

Perhaps these local products make the job of the bartenders, and servers, more, dare I say, “spirited?” They have more to offer, they have pride in their region, their community of folks who are creating these amazing products, and the distinct opportunity to share this wilth people who happen to be in an especially celebratory mood! Sounds a lot more fun than hunkering in a smelly back barroom counting my meager tips. The next time you have an opportunity to hire professional help for an event, I’d suggest checking out Crystal Lake Catering Company’s certified bartenders, for a truly eclectic experience. Cheers!

Beach Weddings: White Musings

Waking up to eight inches of fresh snow makes a person dreamy about a white wedding on a warm, sandy beach…well, maybe not any one, but it’s certainly an appropriate time for the bride- and groom-to-be to start planning for a romantic wedding on a Lake Michigan beach.

Despite the thick blanket of snow, Michigan’s Benzie County—tucked on the western edge of the mitten’s pinkie finger—is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. Years ago, I attended a beach wedding on the east coast, in an unnamed state on the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe it was just a bad year, but the beach itself was not very wide and the trapped algae and bits of junk was not, well, very romantic. In contrast, we have the Big Lake. Lake Michigan blesses Benzie County with beaches at the towns of Frankfort and Elberta. The endless stretches of well kept sand offers beautiful views and ample parking. Not to mention the more private, access road beaches; including Grace, Point Betsie, or Peterson roads—all would be great settings for a breath-taking sunset wedding.

But then what, after the ceremony does the whole wedding party have to travel miles inland for the reception? Nope, there are plenty of great wedding reception venues right here in Benzie County. The Grace Road and Elberta beaches are in close proximity to the renovated, historic Elberta Life-Saving Station, complete with outdoor walkways along the picturesque Betsie Bay. Frankfort and Point Betsie beach weddings would be more convenient to the Oliver Art Center, another historic landmark, recently renovated with a gourmet kitchen for cooking courses and reception events.  Depending on size of the wedding party, there’s many gathering places in- and outdoors—from local parks in Frankfort, Elberta, Beulah (don’t forget the gorgeous Crystal Lake), to lodges, bed-n-breakfast resorts, and town halls to rent. The exquisite natural beauty only adds to a stress-free, grand wedding in northern Michigan!

A bride who’s starting to plan her wedding day, really could not find a better place to dream up the perfect beach wedding, situated right here in Benzie County. Just substitute the white stuff on the ground right now for cottony, white clothing and imagine your barefeet massaged by warm sand….ahhhhh, this is the place to make a lifetime of memories.

Hearty Curry inspired by January thaw

Hearty Winter Squash in coconut curry

Hearty Winter Squash in coconut curry

Great day of cooking n the new R&D Kitchen! We made a great Hearty Winter Squash Curry loaded with some extraordinary ingredients and flavors such as garlic, ginger, red onion, red pepper, carrot, roasted butternut and acorn squash, summer and zucchini squash, tomato, mango, orange and banana in sweet coconut curry with a hint of peanut butter and fresh cilantro. Yummy for your tummy!


Carnitas blew our minds tonight!

Betise bay wedding reception site

Beach wedding on Lake Michigan

With my back to the Betsie Bay and Lake Michigan, I focused and took this photo of The Elizabeth Oliver Center for the Arts (formerly known as the Crystal Lake Art Center).

Right next to Harbor Shores beach wedding ceremoniesYou may have already heard, this is Benzie County’s newest and most exciting venue for special events, especially wedding receptions. They display beautiful art and work very well with professional catering companies,  like us!

They are located adjacent to Harbor Shores Resort, which has been accommodating brides and grooms by providing their beach on Lake Michigan for wedding ceremonies. Super cool for those who have always dreamed of have their wedding on the beach.

For more information, go to: https://crystallakecatering.com/community/venues.


Elberta Life Saving Station solid venue

This entire winter has been wacky. Wacky it was today as well. I sea kayaked the entire north shore of Crystal Lake. It definitely felt like a late summer day without all of the people and activities. Betise bay wedding reception siteI slept with the windows down last night. Its still winter!

Before a visit to the Colorado Rockies, I took this shot of the Elberta Life Saving Station. My buddy Ross fixed all of the windows and doors as you can see his construction materials. We catered about 7-10 gigs there last year and hope to do about as many this year too.   This place is one of Benzie’s premier wedding reception sites. Beach ceremonies are commonly conducted nearby at either the Elberta Beach or Frankfort Beach. Have your wedding ceremony on the beach and host your reception near by at The Elberta Life Savings station. You’ll be happy you did, especially if you have The Crystal Lake Catering Company share northern Michgan’s best with you and your guests.

For more information, go to: https://crystallakecatering.com/community/venues