When Diego and Kristin Urrutia throw a dinner party in their waterfront Palm Beach home, they leave nothing to chance. Sharing the stage with Diego’s business partners, Matti Anttila (accompanied by his interior designer wife, Jennifer) and Nic Roldan (with his equestrian girlfriend, Hannah Selleck) to introduce their High Goal Gin brand to friends, the couple rely on the entertaining panache they learned from their parents.
Diego, who now works as a banker and wealth manager at Merrill Lynch in Palm Beach, was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Argentina, Singapore, and London. He fondly describes his mother’s attention to detail and her ability to please each guest. “With my mom, [it is] the more the merrier at her parties—and there are never too many Champagne glasses,” says Diego. “I learned that being a good host is to make guests feel special.”
Kristin, who was born in Philadelphia and raised in South Florida and Aspen, recalls elegant dinner parties, with her mother hosting soirees in honor of holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day and around themes like Italian night. “My mom loved to entertain and did the florals herself,” says Kristin, a TV and documentary producer and development executive who works regularly for ABC-TV, including the news magazine show 20/20, in New York. “Now I love hosting our own theme parties. Even when I lived in New York, I did tennis and back-to-school-type bashes for 200 guests.”
Since meeting on the street in New York a dozen years ago, Diego and Kristin have taken to sharing the hosting duties. Kristin creates the table settings and makes the salads and sides when the party is small. Diego is a “master griller” who also greets guests and offers appetizers and drinks.
This particular soiree, however, was different, because Diego was joined by Matti and Nic, who are equally interested in party preparation, including experimenting with various pairings of their new gin with chef-driven cuisine.
Before embarking upon their shared business venture, the trio initially bonded over their love of polo and its lifestyle. Together they launched High Goal to give the American market a novel choice of gin. The beverage is produced in Charleston, South Carolina, where Matti is based and owns Grain & Barrel Spirits, a beverage company that also makes Dixie Southern Vodka, Chicken Cock Whiskey, Cabana Rum, Endless Summer Spirits, and Virgil Kane Whiskey.
High Goal Gin, which comes in a custom, Italian-designed and -manufactured sea spray green bottle, is infused with mint and citrus botanicals to create a lighter, more refreshing taste. Matti, who calls himself a gin man, previously owned the high-end Boodles Gin brand. “I had a noncompete after I sold Boodles and could not wait to start High Goal, where I have held the trademark,” he explains.
Raised playing polo in Santa Barbara, California, Matti was happy to meet Nic through Diego, who was his neighbor in Palm Beach before he relocated his family to Charleston. “Nic, Diego, and I talked about the profile and packaging for High Goal Gin; then the pandemic hit, and we were lucky to have had the time to refine the marketing,” Matti says. “We source everything in the Southeast and produce the gin in 3,000-bottle batches to tightly control the botanicals, like mint, juniper, coriander, lemon, and cardamom.”
Nic, an active eight-goal polo superstar who turned pro at age 15 and is a co-founder of High Goal Gin, discovered his passion for the drink while playing tournaments in the United Kingdom, including the Queen’s Cup and Gold Cup. For several years, he was looking for a way to create his own premium gin brand stateside.
“I have always liked gin,” says Nic, who lives in Wellington and continues to play polo around the world. “I follow the gin culture in Europe when I play polo there, and I am so happy that we have created a light and reimagined version for the U.S. We wanted a more modern-style flavor that is citrus-forward. We see gin as a rising trend.”
Gin was certainly the featured player at their recent dinner party. As guests entered the living area of Kristin and Diego’s residence—which features a Louis Vuitton chest Diego restored—Kristin offered the evening’s signature cocktail: High Goal Gin on the rocks with a twist of lemon and fresh mint, presented in contemporary Orrefors bulb glasses.
Joey Leuze from Palm Beach Catering & Luxury Events paired the cocktail with a variety of passed appetizers, such as ahi tuna tacos with avocado mousse and micro cilantro, wild mushroom bonbons with black truffle aioli, and crispy potatoes with sour cream and salmon roe. While enjoying the food and drinks, guests raved about the smashing view of the Intracoastal Waterway. “The sight of the sun setting on the balcony is fantastic,” said guest Nick McClelland, a private equity and investment specialist.
Kristin and Diego, with a little help from their 5-year-old daughter, Allegra, set the tone for the evening with the addition of background music by Norwegian DJ Kygo. “They are such gracious and lovely hosts,” said Matti’s wife, Jennifer, who admired the white orchids that seemed to bloom about the living space. “Everywhere I look I
“I love being with people, especially in our home environment,” adds Diego. “We like to mix and match our different friends as it expands our intellect, curiosity, and chemistry. It’s great fun to talk and show them around our home.”
Just off the living room, the dining table was nestled in a space defined by silk kelly green Schumacher wallpaper and punctuated by a bold Kelly Reemtsen painting of an empowered woman carrying a chainsaw. “This room is a novel take on ‘green with envy,’” observed Hannah Selleck, daughter of actor Tom Selleck.
Set for 10, the table appointments and Kristin’s antique peacock wicker chairs helped transform the area into a notable scene that could have stepped out of a proper English novel. Atop a D’Ascoli tablecloth were Kelly green napkins that matched the wallpaper and highlighted the pretty blues and greens in the home’s decor. The setting also included Kristin’s favorite Mottahedeh Imperial Blue china, green Vista Alegra water goblets, Christofle silver flatware, and assorted green votives mixed and matched with white candles in crystal holders and natural centerpieces of white orchids.
“We wanted to add a sophisticated pattern to the table since the kelly green wallpaper is a solid,” says Emily Painter, co-founder of Freshly Set, a tablescape linen rental company, who helped the hostess design the table decor. “Kristin loves place cards and conversation-starter cards, which added to the mix.”
For the meal, chef Leuze planned the food and drink pairings to create a luxe and light dining experience, starting with the fresh Tommy Hitchcock gin cocktail with a Thai basil garnish and a first course bursting with bright flavors: scallop carpaccio with pickled celery, watermelon radish, and an apple and basil vinaigrette. The Saint-Tropez cocktail—gin and Champagne with lemon juice and peel, edible flowers, and passion fruit seeds—ushered in the second course of Maine lobster tail with pea risotto, lobster jam, and pea tendrils. “This was a light entree, with the elegance of the lobster matching the light and lovely gin creation,” explains Leuze. “The gin is not dominant in these cocktails. The drink is luxurious, mild, and easy to pair with this menu.”
For dessert, the chef matched a lemon tart with The Roldan, a cocktail combining gin, basil, and muddled strawberries served in low Reed & Barton glasses. The chef added a rhubarb compote to the lemon tart to complement the strawberries in the cocktail.
“The food was fresh and delicious, and the night was a lot of fun,” says Nic. “It was wonderful seeing close friends and enjoying their company.”
As the evening came to a close, guest Ali Solimine Kampsen raved about the vibe, the hosts, and the guests. “Kristin and Diego know how to bring together a good group of people,” said Ali, a real estate professional. “The hosts were so welcoming, and their home is beautiful. They made us feel relaxed and comfortable, like we were part of the family.”
The partygoers agreed that the hosts gave new meaning to “gin with a twist.”