A Summer Dinner Party at Double DD Ranch

It’s a rare dinner party where the signature cocktail is the same color as the hair of one of the hostesses. But at the Double DD Ranch-Warming Party, the lavender-hued cocktail felt right at home with hostess Maxine Lapiduss––award-winning standup comic, television comedy writer, and producer––who has hair that bears more than a passing resemblance to a purple jelly bean. 

Two women who own Double DD Ranch sit on a bench and hold coffee mugs with long jackets on, one with purple hair and the other with pink hair and a hat.

Hosts Maxine Lapiduss and Hillary Carlip.

A Meeting of Creatives

To envision Lapiduss, imagine if Rosalind Russell (in her role in Auntie Mame) and Phyllis Diller had a baby. In fact, in her will, Diller bequeathed her feather boas to Lapiduss, but that’s another story. Lapiduss also worked on classic TV shows that included Ellen, Roseanne, and Dharma & Greg.   

Lapiduss’s wife, Hillary Carlip, is no shrinking violet herself. Crowned with hot pink hair––think Harriet the Spy meets Pebbles Flintstone––Carlip is an award-winning memoirist, the author of five books, and a performance and visual artist. Moreover, she is a former professional circus performer: a fire-eating juggler. If that isn’t a shiny enough résumé, she also won The Gong Show—three times! 

A family gathers at a wood table outside Double DD Ranch, each holding up their arm and drink to cheers as a ranch setting sits in the background.

Guests gathered on the portal of hosts Maxine Lapiduss and Hillary Carlip… minutes after a summer rain, and minutes before a glorious rainbow.

Lapiduss and Carlip are the proud new owners of a 27-acre ranchette, located 18 minutes outside Santa Fe. They named the property the Double DD Ranch, tongue-in-cheek reference to their physical endowments. Urban-ish West Coasters, they had a COVID pandemic-induced epiphany to turn their considerable talents to create a rural-ish space for workshops, events, and wellness retreats.  

Making Home at the Ranch

When they saw the property, they immediately responded in unison with one word, bashert, Yiddish for “meant to be. In other words, a resounding yes! Despite not knowing the difference between a dally and a dewlap, they decided it was the place they were looking for, complete with a picture-postcard Southwestern setting as the backdrop. The options would be as limitless as the sweeping views and the New Mexico sky.   

To christen the ranch, they hosted a party with some of their nearest and dearest, a guest list that included a screenwriter, a cowboy, two jewelers, an anthropologist, an artist and an actor. There was also a cannabis dispensary owner, a gossamer-haired toddler, two hunks on horseback and a horse whisperer. Topping off the list was a movie star buffalo named Clyde.  

Two men in cowboy hats ride on two dark brown horses in the yellow grounds of Double DD Ranch.

Two neighboring ranchers stopped in for a drink.

Food, Fire, and Fun

When it came to food and drink the brief was clear: it had to be fun, funky, and fire-roasted. For thousands of years, humans have been putting food on sticks and cooking over an open fire. For the Double DD duo, it was dinner on a stick––everything from grilled, skewered prosciutto-wrapped peaches to succulent eggplant and shiitake kabobs with a smoky harissa.   

As the sun began to set, veteran Chef Peter O’Brien was in command at the fire pit. O’Brien has been cooking professionally for over 30 years, including stints at Bishop’s Lodge and The Compound and now runs his own catering company. For this bash he produced endless platters of food: chicken skewers with a garlic-parmesan hot sauce; fire-roasted kabocha-carrot-and-beet sticks topped with Swiss chard pesto; curried cauliflower steaks with avocado-yogurt sauce; and of course, soupy cowboy beans cooked in a micaceous clay pot with cheesy jalapeño cornbread on the side.  

A cast iron pan of cornbread sits on a wooden table witha. slice cut out of it, sitting on a black plate nearby.

Cheesy jalapeño cornbread in a skillet. Made by High Mountain Cuisine.

Vibrant Cocktails to Match

To ensure no guest was parched, Caley Shoemaker, co-founder of As Above, So Below Distillery, got into the spirt of the evening literally, setting up a bar on the portal of the barn, looking west toward an apricot-colored sky. She created colorful cocktails that looked like pastel summer dresses, including The Guadalupe, with her house-distilled Sigil Gin, lavender-honey lemonade, topped off with a marigold perched on the tumbler rim like a sun hat. Another festive libation was the Road to Chama, a spiced-peach cocktail served in a Nick & Nora glass and garnished with a candied peach.   

A cocktail with a purple gradient sits on a wooden table with a purple flower on top and one beside the glass as well.

Road to Chama, a peach flavored gin cocktail from As Above, So Below.

With cocktails flowing and the aroma of grilled food wafting in the sage-scented air, it was hard to imagine the party getting better. Then, as if sent by Central Casting, two handsome cowboys rode up on Quarter Horses, with an Australian shepherd leading the way. (A guest was overheard to say how nice it is to “live in a place where guests arrive for cocktails on horseback.”) The Mortenson Ranch is next door to the DD, and owner Clint Mortenson was one of the handsome cowboys. The ranch is also home to Clyde the Buffalo, a regular on Yellowstone, Kevin Costner’s blockbuster hit. Clyde has been known to turn up outside Lapiduss’s sliding glass doors. He seems to have a thing for Lapiduss and the feeling is mutual. She quips that if you’ve never had a buffalo arrive at your door to say hello, it’s quite something.  

A Sweet Summer Evening

For dessert, O’Brien spit-roasted apples and served them with raclette fondue, with white chocolate and toasted pistachios. And to bring out the kid in the guests, there were frozen treats on yes, you guessed it, sticks, from a pink paleta cart festooned with colorful Mexican paper flowers. To end the evening, guests gathered around the fire pit, sipping hot chocolate garnished with chocolate-dipped marshmallows. 

Three crispy apples sit in a pan on a table with others sit above uncooked.

Chef Peter O’Brien’s roasted apples as a wonderful dessert. Made by High Mountain Cuisine.

Bespoke cocktails, an inspired menu cooked over an open fire, and a ranch setting right out of a Hollywood western, created a perfect summer evening in the high desert. Perhaps one of the guests described it best though: the Double DD Ranch has a calming, clearing energy that makes guests feel instantly relaxed. Sitting next to the fire pit, wrapped in a blanket and sipping hot chocolate under a starry sky is nothing less than magical. Lapiduss and Carlip are such welcoming hostesses that people feel as if they have arrived home––a gift for future guests at ranch events. The Double DD Ranch offers breathtaking views, a panoramic setting in which alchemy can unfold. The possibilities are endless. 

The Menu

What They Ate

By Chef Peter O’Brien, High Mountain Cuisine

A hand grills various colored vegetable skewers for the Double DD Ranch Dinner Party.

Kabobs roasted over a hardwood fire at Double DD Ranch.

  • Grilled skewered prosciutto-wrapped peaches
  • Eggplant & shitake kabobs with smoky tomato harissa
  • Chicken skewers with garlic-parmesan hot sauce
  • Fire-roasted kabocha-carrot-and beet sticks with Swiss chard pesto
  • Curried cauliflower steaks with avocado-yogurt sauce
  • Soupy cowboy beans
  • Cheesy jalapeño cornbread
  • Spit-roasted apples with raclette fondue, white chocolate & toasted pistachios
  • Paleta (Mexican frozen treats)

Popsicles made of ice cream, one red, one green slowly melt on two black plates on a patterened table.

Strawberry and kiwi flavored paletas (Mexican frozen treats). Special detail: The tray they are sitting on once belonged to actor Vincent Price. The plates come from Eight Million Gods in Truchas.

What They Drank

By Caley Shoemaker, As Above, So Below Distillery

The Guadalupe

As Above, So Below Sigil Gin with lavender-honey lemonade and a garnish of marigold blossoms.

A cocktail glass with a yellowish liquid and green garnish with a yellow flower sitting to the right of it.

The Guadalupe, a gin-spiked lemonade cocktail from As Above, So Below.

Road to Chama

As Above, So Below Sigil Gin with Gruet’s Sparkling Sauvage, spiced honey-peach syrup, lemon juice, and the requisite garnish of a candied peach.

The Guest List

A woman in a cowboy hat and her child smile at the camera as two other men at the Double DD Ranch dinner party look at the table.

Cassidy Freeman and Gigi smile for the camera amongst the table of guests.

Maxine Lapiduss

Award-winning TV comedy writer/show runner, business strategist, and experience curator. The host.

Hillary Carlip

Bestselling author of five books, a digital innovator, and a visual artist with works in permanent museum collections. The host, tambien.

Clint Mortenson

Modern cowboy, trick rider, movie-stunt double, horse trainer, silversmith, and saddle maker. He owns Mortenson Ranch.

Wyatt Mortenson

Lifelong cowboy known for horsemanship, wrangling, stunt work, and acting.

Kobie Jimenez

A new-ish New Mexican working on a ranch riding horses and hanging out with a buffalo named Clyde.

Brian Boyd

Polo player.

Kristin Goodman

Award-winning screenwriter, director, playwright, professional horse trainer and wrangler for film and television.

Eli Goodman

Actor, producer, and co-owner of Best Daze Dispensaries.

Vanessa Vanya

Illustrator and tattoo artist.

Cassidy Freeman

Actress, musician, Mom of toddler Gigi.

Ben Ellsworth

Lifelong athlete, mountain running enthusiast, Wim Hoff Method (WHM) instructor, Dad of Gigi.

Emily Warner

Owner and founder of High Noon General Store.

Adelma Aurora Hnasko

Educational anthropologist, founder of creative residency and retreat space Resolana Farms, and author of a memoir about growing up in rural northern New Mexico.

Mona Van Riper

Jeweler known for intricate belt buckles featuring crowns, fleur-de-lis, hearts, or skulls.

Clyde the Buffalo

Resident of Mortenson Ranch and four-legged actor on the TV series Yellowstone.

Story by Cyndy Tanner / Photography by Tira Howard / Styling by Valerie Levine / Production by Parasol Productions / Food by Chef Peter O’Brien, High Mountain Cuisine / Drinks by Caley Shoemaker, As Above, So Below / Rentals by Summit Party Rentals / Dinnerware by Eight Million Gods / Props by High Noon General Store and Flor del Rio Decorating

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