Pivot under extraordinary circumstances: A COVID-19 Story
WANT TO GET YOUR BRAND IN FRONT OF CAPTIVE VIPS?
This is precisely what GLYPH WHISKEY DID. They utilized this moment to target a select group of VIPS to then deliver to them specialized gifts. What better way to give back and say thinak you!
OUR ‘SURPRISE & DELIGHT’ DELIVERY CAMPAIGN PIVOT TO CAPTIVATE VIPS – Want to get your brand in front of tastemakers & VIPS? Want to send a gift to that special someone? – GLYPH WHISKEY tapped HIGHLIFE to ‘Surprise & Delight’ a select group of Tastemakers & VIPS. Since everyone is locked down in their homes we created a cocktail delivery program that brought GLYPH to a captive audience. Each delivery was accompanied by a personal ‘Thank you’ to those who have been behind their brand since the beginning. Letting them know that Glyph values their support and wants to add a little cocktail cheer to their slow quarantine days.
The 5 Things I learned from planning my own wedding…
I wrote an article not too long ago about the the fact that there are no straight male wedding planners? How come? I believe that ultimately no bride wants to trust her “biggest” day with someone who isn’t gay or female. There are a bunch of thing wrong with what I just said. So let’s break it down a bit. “Her Day” — why in this post #metoo era is the wedding for the bride? It seems after all of the gender tropes we have overcome, the wedding is largely for the bride and the groom is expected to just sort fo show up… not really have a point of view on the floral palette, the cut or design of the gown, the flavors associated with the meal… Ultimately this is a partnership right. Then again what groom wants his wife spending those crucial planning hours with a straight male? In many respects a bride and groom can certainly plan their own wedding without a wedding planner. Sure. It’s a lot of work but it can be done. I have to say though that going thru this process with my bride was a whole lot of fun and I would encourage it for anyone getting married. So below I am going to break down 5 things I learned from doing this myself. Granted. I am an event producer. Making events happen is what I do for a living so I already had the list of vendors (my friends) to help make this all as easy and magical as possible.
Choose the venue first. The Date second.
The first thing you want to do is pick a date and a venue. That will largely inform most of your other decisions. What Lauren and I decided was that we wanted more than just a 1 day wedding. A year ago we went to a beautiful wedding in the Catskills. We arrived on a Friday, there was a great welcome dinner, checked into the hotel, woke up the next morning explored the Catskills, came back got ready for the wedding and then the next day a good bye brunch. There is something great about the 3-day wedding weekend where your guests can get away for a little while, relax, and immerse themselves in something very very special. So for us it was Stone Harbor NJ. We could have done a 1 day wedding in NYC but for a 3-day getaway the south jersey shore is perfect. Sept 14th was the date we set with our venue Stone Harbor Golf Club. I grew up in this town so all of this had a lot of meaning and was very special. Plus the weather in September down the shore is just incredible.
2. Place you money where your priorities are.
It’s no secret the best part of weddings is often the food and drinks. For us this was true and we wanted to really make that the best part. From the elaborate cocktail hour (High End Tequila Bar) to the sumptuous lobster and filet main course to the spread of local dessert treats and who could forget the custom ice cream truck at the end of the night. The catering is where our priorities were. One of the many benefits of having a wedding at a venue with full food
and beverage capabilities is that there is a full, real kitchen and bar on site. I am no knocking venues without full kitchens but sometimes that cost can then become exorbitant. Catering companies that cater at venues without their own kitchens have to rent the cooking equipment from rental companies. This cost alone can double or triple what a normal food and beverage cost would be. So this was another consideration when it came to exactly what the location of the wedding would be. Your venue or your caterer can help you choose how to serve and what to serve. From day one we wanted a lush raw bar (good thing the local cape may salt oysters) are to die for!
As a mixologoist myself, I created a couple of signature cocktails a “His or Hers” versions in addition to the full scale HighEnd Tequila Bar. Then a great variety of stations and passed canapes for the cocktail hour. The main course was a classic pairing of lobster and filet. Simple. Crowd pleaser. Finally the desserts were a spread of delicious, local, delicacies from the candy shops, fudge stores, and donut stands in town. Not to mentions the custom ice cream.
3. It’s all about the flowers…
Much of the design for weddings is primarily based around the flowers and having a great florist is key to having an easy yet beautiful wedding. Brenton Wolf is a friend. He does the flowers for all of our events and it was an easy call working with him to design the look and feel of the wedding floral scape and table scapes
For the most party a collaboration between your floral company and your rental company will save you time, money, and head aches. Our rental company was Broadway Party Rentals, so all of the gold ceremony chairs you see here came from the company. We wanted to introduce touches of gold into the wedding which the venue had none of, so to accomplish this we brought it in.
4. People will cancel
It’s often very hard to know how many people will actually show up at the wedding. Despite the save-the-dates, formal RSVPs, messages and more. In fact people will confirm, then cancel, then re-confirm. I was honestly shocked with how much fall out we had. The best way around this was the fact that we had some singles (no plus 1s) on hand that didn’t mind filling the gaps.
5. Ultimately its your wedding and YOUR decisions…
Too often there are too many people who have opinions about what you should be doing. I feel like this is a life lesson as well as well. While you should listen to these people you don’t have to act on what they say. You will have mothers, fathers, planners, friends all tell you what you are doing wrong… when I feel we need a little more in life people telling us what we are doing right.
Your Friendly Straight Male Wedding Planner.
Studio 54 Reimagined
Early October Highlife was tapped by Interview Magazine and the Mavenry Agency to bring to life the 50th anniversary of Interview Magazine and the one and only Michael Kors gracing the cover. The iconic magazine by Andy Warhol has been inextricably linked to Studio 54 since day one. Democracy on the Floor: Warhol at Studio 54. “Dictatorship at the Door, Democracy on the Floor”: That’s how Andy Warhol famously described Studio 54. So we set out with this mission statement to re-create those decadent times.
A frequent guest of Studio 54 Andy was scene as a beacon of the artistic movement in downtown NYC. Notice the wheatpasted Interview Magazine covers seen in the BG. Taking this identity we re-imagined this look and feel for a modern day step & repeat where the NYC style of advertisements juxtaposed with the Interview Magazine cover.
The Infamous White Horse
“It was a beautiful white horse that reminded me of mine,” she writes, “and I made the foolish decision to get on it for a few minutes … No doubt you will agree with me that it is one thing to, on the spur of the moment, to get on a horse in a nightclub, but it is quite another to ride in on one. As an environmentalist and an animal rights defender I find the insinuation that I would ride a horse into a nightclub offensive … I hope that you can understand the difference between ‘coming in’ on a horse and getting on one.”
Oh Bianca. You know what they say “if you see a white horse you have to get on it” it was the custom in Studio 54 for the guests to indulge in many things that are ‘white’ perhaps riding a horse in a club. not the best idea. But for this imagery, we re-imagined it as an instagrammable moment. This new approach allowed people to get up close and take a photo with the model decked in MKC and also the brilliant white steed!
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
The dancing in the club was probably what everyone came for. They sex, drugs, and debauchery was what everyone stayed for. To encourage this care-free act of inclusiveness the Studio 54 Dancers were decked in Silver with choreographed movements that would make Diana Ross Blush 🙂 Then Adding in the roller girls brought everything full circle.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a disco without the disco balls. Reimagined as a platform stage in the space, this provided not only a stage for the dancers put a branded moment for photos and more.
A preliminary rendering shown here and then the branded UV-Light logo added for a more dynamic moment. This providing more than just a stage to dance on, but an interactive instagrammable vision.
Finally, a good time would not happen without the people involved. Kudos to the team at Michael Kors, Interview Magazine, The Mavenry, and HighLife Productions.
Too often we don’t talk about the failures or the losses. Too often what we post on social platforms are only the highlights and the wins. Too often we shy away from the risks that don’t succeed or the missteps or the failures. The HL team spent months planning and putting this event together only to have the whole deal fall apart. Above is a sample of the comprehensive pitch video, graphic elements, renderings, and deck samples we used to create a show-stopping grand opening of a one-of-a kind real estate property poised to be the silicon valley of NYC. This event was supposed to not only be a show case of the incredible building itself but a festival celebrating the tenants of the neighborhood and the abundance of the talent, diversity, and magic in the community at large of Brooklyn
Bringing together the wide array of talents that represent Brooklyn was high on our list. We wanted to celebrate not only the Brooklyn Navy Yard and all of the awesome tenants that reside there but also everything that makes the borough of Brooklyn just so special. From musical acts like Talib Kweli, Regina Spektor, Too Many Zooz, and of course Brooklyn United a non-porfit organization dedicated to teaching music and shaping lives. The event showcased all the amazing food and beverage of the Navy Yard itself as well as supplemental Brooklyn Food Trucks. In addition to the “Main Stage” acts the event would feature cutting-edge VR that would allow you to see not only the history of the Navy Yard, The Current expanse of the Yard, but also the future and everything in between in a deluxe time warp. Immersive performances and interactive elements would put the finishing touches on the day so that the people in attendance and also the the wider community at large felt like they were part of the spectacle itself.
A NY GALA
A Brooklyn Block Party
A combination of unique local Brooklyn immersive performance elements, innovative lighting, fresh floral accents, hand selected food trucks and various interactive art pop-ups. Ultimately solidifying the importance of experience, neighborhood, and collaboration.
UPON ENTRANCE, GUESTS QUICKLY REALIZE THEY AREN’T ATTENDING YOUR NORMAL “STUFFY’ BROKER INVITATIONAL. THIS IS BROOKLYN. HOME TO SOME OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE PERFORMERS AND ARTISTS. THE BROOKLYN UNITED IS NO EXCEPTION. AS THE BAND PLAYS THEY MARCH THEIR WAY THRU THE ENTRANCE AND INTO THE LOBBY BECKONING THE GUESTS TO FOLLOW. DON’T WORRY. THEY APPEAR LATER.
The Brooklyn United Music and Arts Program (BU) is a community-based organization that serves New York City youth. Brooklyn United is focused on the development of youth through Academic Support, Character Development, Skills Building and Performance Opportunities. It is through these pillars that we strive to build strong, well rounded, healthy, confident and capable young people.
THE SECOND FLOOR & HEALTH CENTER HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO OUR BROOKLYN STREET DANCE PERFORMANCE CENTER AND WHO KNOWS MAYBE EVEN AN APPEARANCE FROM LADY LIBERTY HERSELF.
THE 16TH FLOOR. AWAY FROM THE NOISE. A RETREAT TO SOMETHING MORE INTIMATE. BK’S FINEST STREET POETS LAY DOWN RHYMES AND PERFORM IN OUR SLAM STUDIO. JOIN THEM AND WRITE A VERSE OF YOUR OWN.
The exterior courtyard will feature the marquee stage, 5 of NYC’s best food trucks, beer garden, lounge vignettes on the lawn, a 12’x50’ Dock 72 Graffiti Art Wall, Games, NYC Basketball, Double Dutch Jump Rope Troupe, Haiku Artists, and more…
The Last Impression…
As the sun sets on the navy yard waterfront, the final song begins to play, the last call is made at the bars and the guests shuffle for the exits longing for those endless summer days that are no more. Autumn is upon us and the days become shorter once again. Brooklyn returns to the streets, neighborhoods, and haunts it lives in and we go back to our day-to-day. This respite. This break. This event reminds us of the power of experience at the intersection of art, culture, music, food, and most importantly community.
Unfortunately. This event never happened.
I am not one to think that there is any wasted work. Nothing is ever wasted and time is no ones but your own. Everything is learning. Everything is process. Everything is craft. Everything you do just makes you better. You can’t grow if you don’t take the risk to step outside your comfort zone.
Tyler Hollinger, Owner
Renderings by Joel Fitzpatrick
A creative experiential agency born from the food and beverage world. Just as our motto states “Experience x Integrity” we value what we put in our bodies. Events for us center around great food and drinks as well as great friends. That magical combination of people and food at the intersection of unforgettable experiences. In the following pages you will find an overall creative outline and comprehensive event production focusing on such elements as experiential interaction, innovative design, supplemental food and beverage, staffing, performances, design, lighting, staging, permitting, licensing and much much more…
Our roots are in the hospitality industry and together with our team of designers and planners we seamlessly execute thousand person festivals, hundred person galas, corporate functions, branded launches, glamorous weddings, private dinners and every event in between.
DISCLAIMER: Event experiences measured in the depth of their impact not the width of their impressions. This creative deck has been prepared exclusively for you. The following pages are exclusively HighLife’s intellectual property, provided in good faith as a commitment to our relationship. All designs, ideas, strategies, and breakdowns are confidential and not to be shared with other agencies, vendors, or third parties. We look forward to bringing your event to life.
Why Secret Summer is the best party in NYC and still a secret after 5yrs
In comparison to the wealth of event and festival experiences that occur in NYC over the course of the summer (i.e., GovBall, Pinknic, la Luna), and many many more it is very clear to me that Secret Summer is by far the best festival in New York City. Below are the reasons why…
#1 THE PRICE
The price of Secret Summer depending on when you buy your ticket is $60-$150 (At the Door) most of the 1000 people who attend Secret Summer purchase a $75–$100 ticket because there are the most of those qualities. In fact in 2019 when we release tickets in April the first 100 $60 tickets SOLD OUT in 2hrs. That’s a testament to the strength of our following. That right there is your ROI and how to judge whether or not what you are doing is working. At Secret Summer all of your drinks are free all day! No other festival can claim this. The first year we actually gave the food away in the ticket price too but that was a huge disaster as people hoarded plates and left half eaten plates all over the place.
For example Pinknic charges you a $90 ticket for the privilege to then sell you glasses of Rosé at $15 a pop. They on top of that sell you a $20 ferry ticket which is actually $2.75 at the ferry…Then on top of that they had to cancel their Saturday event because of the heat and the mayors office issuing refunds (but many people never received that refund and had to write in to request it) so how do you sustain an event with that kind of bad blood…? Other festivals like GovBall everything is for purchase and at a price of $120 plus everything you spend your budget goes up sharply. Then there are the raves in NYC where you pay a very cheap price to be crammed in a small warehouse etc with 7k other sweaty people gyrating. If that’s your thing. At $60 that’s a good value but again nothing is included.
#2 THE QUALITY OF THE DRINKS
To qualify as a cocktail it must have 3 ingredients. 2 is just an emergency and 1 is a problem. Its no secret that the cocktails at Secret Summer are of the highest quality. What Secret Summer does that is so unique is that we pair major liquor brands with ingredients from local farms to create pure magic in a glass. The freshness and quality are evident at first sip. I have attended too many other events and liquor expos where the quality of cocktail is basic and not about the complete experience. From House of Suntory to Aperol to Aldez Tequila, and newcomer Chinola, what the attendee gets is not only exposure to brands they have never heard of but a connection to local farms in their community. This wholesome experience adds to the total picture and rounds out their opinion of the brand itself. In many ways this is why the brands participate.
#3 THE BRANDS, SPONSORS, & PARTNERS
To participate in Secret Summer, a brand has to meet the festivals Aesthetic and match the level of quality. This high level of brands and the integrity of their activations are precisely why the overall experience is so great. Brands that invest in the overall quality of their experience reap the rewards of a depth of brand equity and brand value. How nice it is to effect someone so deeply that they become a fan for life all because of their experience at Secret Summer
#4 THE VENUE
The Foundry in LIC is by far and away the best event space in NYC and an Instagrammer’s dream. This coveted private venue is usually regarded for private events and weddings almost exclusively. This is a rare chance for 1000p to dance and celebrate under its turn of the century stone and ivy decked walls, its rustic cobblestone courtyard and myriad of nooks and crannies crammed with unique artists and eye catching interactions. Just 1 stop from Manhattan and a 20% Lyft discount ride away. The venue is hard to beat.
#5 THE PERFORMANCES
What is different about Secret Summer from other events is that there is no stage. The performances happen all around you all the time for the entire day. You may wander from the Albra room to the courtyard and back again thru the green house and see 4 different performances. This year we had High and Mighty Brass Band headline the festival by playing “MTV Unplugged” style in the round with everyone right there…Meanwhile Chinese dragons surprised guests while wandering thru the courtyard
Posing for pictures, delighting attendees, and interacting with everyone. The festival opened with 2 DJs spinning for a total of 4 hrs setting the mood before the band. In the other rooms guests found bespoke haiku typewriter poetry, the Secret Summer Clique of interactive dancers, hand crafted water color portraiture, psychics, face paint, magicians and more!
#6 THE FOOD
A Small hand selected group of food vendors supplied the eats for 1000p festival goers from BBQ to Tacos, Dumplings, Ice Cream, Mochi, Grazing Platters, afghan comfort food, and more…The wealth of local delights were everywhere and just a short walk away.
Secret Summer after 5yrs is still largely a secret to many people but something tells me this won’t last for long…
SECRET SUMMER RETURNS TO THE FOUNDRY FOR THE 5TH YEAR IN A ROW
ON AUGUST 4th
New York, NY (July 31, 2019) — Secret Summer, a one-of-kind farm-to-bar cocktail festival, featuring unique food and drinks and musical performances will take place at The Foundry in Long Island City (42–38 9th St) on Sunday, August 4th
The 5th annual fete and immersive summer garden party, produced by Tyler Hollinger of HighLife Productions, Andrew Maturana of RAPT Hospitality and Allison Du Val of The Foundry, will welcome 1,000 attendees and feature seasonal farm-to-bar cocktails, unique food vendors, and live musical performances throughout the sprawling venue that includes a 3,000 square foot Main Hall, Garden Courtyard, Greenhouse, Albra Room, and Terrace.
The festivalwill showcase and serve up drinks from the world’s most prominent spirits brands like Aldez Tequila, The House of Suntory, Westward Whiskey, Aperol Spritz, Gem & Bolt Mezcal, The Long Drink, Runa, Mr. Black and more…that will pair perfectly with The London Essence Co: Fine Mixers from distilled essences, and Blue Point Brewery.
“This year, we are excited to be partnering with local farms , Brooklyn Grange Farm (Brooklyn Navy Yard), Windfall Farm (Montgomery, NY), Gotham Greens (Greenpoint Brooklyn + Hollis Queens), Bowery Farming (Manhattan) Lucky Dog Farm (Hamden, NY) and Lani’s Farm (South New Jersey, Bordentown) for the first time to supply the Secret Summer festival cocktail program with some of the most beautiful, local ingredients the season has to offer.” said event producer Andrew Maturana.
KeVita Sparkling Probiotic and Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. will also be on hand, serving their light, delicious and refreshing beverages, while Polar Seltzer and Harmless Harvest Coconut Water will be there to help keep guests hydrated. Elmhurst Milked is offering a variety of delicious iced lattes and coffee with 100% plant-based milks. Guests will be able to drink sustainably with HAY! Straws made from natural wheat stems that are 100% biodegradable. Delicious food offerings include a sustainable raw bar by MF Events and the return of Crazy Taco Mex, Cash Only BBQ and newcomers including Nansense NYC and Mama Margarita’s.Secret Summer gets even sweeter this year with Tipsy Scoop serving liquor-infused ice cream treats up to 5% ABV to satisfy everyone’s appetites and compliment the flavorful libations.
This year’s performers include High & Mighty Brass Band, DJ Dastan, DJ David Hohme, and Mira Fahrenheit. Secret Summer has also teamed up with LYFT to offer festival goers a discounted ride to and from the fest.
Farm-to-bar uses the same ideology that the farm-to-table movement has brought to our food. These vibrant seasonal sippers are prepared with only raw, peak-season ingredients sourced from local farms and paired with the best quality spirit brands on the market. These locally sourced items are skillfully incorporated into the Secret Summer program in many different and exciting ways. Secret Summer’s farm-to-bar program is our way of sharing and celebrating a lifestyle of wholeness, happiness and a passion for quality ingredients and experiences.
About Secret Summer:
Secret Summer is the nation’s first and only “Farm-to-Bar” cocktail festival. It’s a celebration of sustainable mixology, fresh eats, music, art, dance, fashion and more. Vibrant seasonal sippers are prepared with only raw, peak-season ingredients sourced from local farms and paired with the best quality spirit brands on the market. The Foundry in Long Island City provides the perfect location for the party. The fully restored 19th century building boasts 3,000 square feet of raw space with a lush outdoor courtyard that will be open to ticket-holders offering up stunning views of the Manhattan skyline along with a gorgeous indoor Greenhouse. General admission tickets begin at $125, which includes unlimited cocktails and beverages and access to all rooms and performances. For more information, visit www.secretsummernyc.com
How to plan a bridal shower?
Or… Do Grooms get enough credit?
Honestly I think grooms get a bad rap sometimes. Too often in today’s society the groom is not involved in the wedding planning or the preparation for the ‘Big Day’. How often do you hear “Oh she did all the work… I just showed up.” Why are weddings now considered only something a woman can come up with or a gay man can design. Maybe we underestimate straight men. Maybe we put boxes and delineations on people in general that simplify things so we don’t have to change our own perspective on how we view others. Labels. Titles. Confines. Everyone tells you, you can’t do something until you do it. Then everyone can’t believe it happened until you do it again. The only difference is those people sit around talking while we go out and do the things. Just do it. Couldn’t say it better myself.
I had the pleasure and the honor of putting together my fiancés bridal shower. We got engaged in Champagne France so I came up with the idea of a French Countryside shower with all the trappings (including a mischievous French Mime). Actually, it was the Mother-in-law who came up with the mime idea. But the mime is actually a friend of mine. The kids are a special part of all showers and we wanted to acknowledge this.
Early summer 2019 HighLife produced and designed an intimate yet whimsical French countryside bridal shower for beauty and make-up industry trendsetter Lauren Maffettone. This gilded affair was designed straight out of Champagne where the couple got engaged.
From the selection of fine French cheeses, French wines, Champagne, and tea cocktails served in quaint baroque provincial china to the ornate golden flatware and lush floral arrangements this classic country side fare was a feté for the ages.
Classic Coq Au Vin was on the menu as well as gruyere croque monsieurs, summer tartines, beetroot cured salmon, Chevé croquettes, seafood tower, pepper cress tossed salad, and an over the top dessert bar for Marie Antoinette herself.
This event hosted at the Foundry in LIC featured a custom Bossa Nova playlist, French Mime, handcrafted water color portraiture, and model staff dressed as Parisian hipsters!
Inspired by the couples engagement in champagne itself HighLife sought to bring France to NYC. Working within the budget parameters we quickly gravitated to a more rustic countryside menu and look. The ethereal decor and whimsical cocktails and setting provided the perfect back drop for a bright, fun, relaxed bridal shower fit for a queen.
Opulence was on the menu for the decked our desert bar by SO SIMPLY SWEET with many different and unique choices. Not to mention the equally lavish cheese and charcuterie table. Each element had its place and the ultimate gem was the venue itself. The Fouundry LIC is a turn of the century restored iron foundry now premiere wedding venue.
Looking back on such a lush event probably the best kept secret that I myself am the groom. The Groom and the wedding planner. LOL what a perfect combo. Can’t wait for the wedding!
Ah, the dinner party. A classic staple of event life. What separates your dinner party, how to make it exceptional, and why none of your friends ever return phone calls anymore. The secret to throwing a great dinner party is in the details. The details are the easiest way to make sure that each of your guests feels special and unique.
You may not have a dope AF greenhouse like the one pictured here but I can assure you that you can find a space that is just right for your event and how to make it special beyond all means. Below is a little step by step guide on how to make your next dinner party exceptional.
#1 Where is it located? What is the venue
The venue whether your home, office, event space is crucial in this equation. A lot of times your costs significantly increase if your venue doesn’t come with equipment like tables, chairs, plates, flatware, etc. There is nothing wrong with using simplicity when it comes to cutting costs. Often times using a designers eye can allow you to get away with so much. In fact a lot of the design for an event is reliant on the venue and its look and fee. Here’s a tip. In a lot of cities many buildings have event spaces that can be easily rented for FREE. Ask a friend 🙂
#2 Let’s talk food
It’s the most important part right? After all it is called a dinner party so “dinner” would be expected. There are many types “family style”, stations, buffet, three course, 5 course, french service, Russian service??? (it’s a thing, look it up. Nobody does it anymore but maybe we should bring it back. There should be a reason and a focus behind the food. Why is this meal special? What is it promoting? What flavors are unique.?
For our Spring Dinner party SSHEF our focus was on seasonal, locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine. The dinner menu featured Crisp Edamame with Perigord Truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano, Wild-Caught, Pan-Roasted Black Sea Bass with Fennel Rosti & Buttermilk and Grilled Spring Eggplant Terrine with Fromage Blanc & Pinot Reduction. The night’s entree is a ‘Woolley Sheep Farm’ Spring Lamb with a Jerusalem Artichoke and Miso Purée, Additionally, House Pappardelle Pasta will be served with Chanterelle and Spring Garlic Cream. Dessert will be ‘Wilklow and ‘Berried Treasure Farm’ Tristar Berry Crumble with a 5 Spice Crust, whipped Mascarpone and baby basil. YUM. The freshness of spring!
#3 It’s about the cocktails, silly
In the end if your guests are drinking they are probably having an amazing time right? Remember 3 ingredients make a cocktail; 2 ingredients is just and emergency. A thoughtful cocktail list solves a lot of problems. Remember this is not a restaurant so you don’t provide you guests with ALL the options. Stick to 3 signature cocktails and wine with dinner. The cocktails should match the vibe of the event and wine should match the food. TIP: a great local wine shop should be capable of pairing or suggesting great affordable wine to go with your dinner. After all those people literally sit around and drink wine ALL DAY. Take it from someone who used to work in a wine store, after a couple months you get real good at telling if a wine is good or not and that doesn’t mean expensive. Don’t get those two confused. In the wine world good does not equal expensive
#4 Hire some staff to help you
Don’t be cheap here. Save your sanity. If you love to cook. Then cook. But don’t cook, serve, and bartend… Hire someone to help you. This is the key word “hire” if you ask a friend to ‘help out’ they will most likely be drunk an hour into the event. Great staff always elevates an event. Young, Fashionable, fresh faced staff sets the right tone. How many tired events have you been to were you see disenchanted staff standing around aimlessly in ill-fitting tuxedos. Gross.
#5 That special touch
Details, Details, Details. It’s all about depth not width. How deeply can you effect someone with your level of care, honesty, and attention. Above all else this is what people remember and a small dinner party is just that. These intimate events are the perfect time for you to focus your attention and show your guests just how much you value their time. At this event we personalized individual Spring44 Gin Bottles with a handwritten message on the spot. So this gift could be for your mother, your friend, your dog (I don’t condone getting dogs drunk but you get the idea) this little touch costed nothing and left a nice impact on the guests. Oh, and I forgot to mention the personalized menus we created with everyone’s names at the top. Details people. Details.
When throwing your next dinner party consider these 5 tips as ways to not feel overwhelmed and enjoy the act of it all. Entertaining should be fun and if it’s not, that’s why you have the cocktails.
Too often we overlook what is most important. We fixate on things instead of people. It is the people who make every event memorable. Not just your guests but your staff. These individuals are the face of your brand, cause, event, company, and more. In this gig economy this aspect of part time work or the idea of “picking up shifts until something better comes along’ is looked down upon. Take for example that case of Jeffrey Owens bagging groceries at a whole foods and how he was job-shamed for trying to earn a wage. Just in that case many of the event staff at your party are artists, actors, models, singers, dancers who are between jobs.
Its this kind of dedication and hustle that makes the individuals behind a “gig” based workforce memorable. These people are the faces and voices behind major commercial campaigns, TV, shows, films, and your favorite magazines. They are also the people who work your event.
The next time you plan your event, ask yourself that just like the food or the drinks or the music, can the staffing be better.
Next week the perfect storm. Whether you are from the south or the way south (Mexico) Derby Day and Cinco De Mayo back-to-back. The Mint Julep or the Margarita? Pick your horse and place your bets. No matted which side of the bar you are on these classic cocktails have stood the test of time for a reason.
THE MINT JULEP (MAY 4th)
The classic Mint Julep looks a little like this… beaded silver cup, crushed ice, sprig of mint and the bourbon…. Ahhh, can you hear the horses getting ready. Maybe its the excitement of the race or the festivities of the hats (oh derby hats) but a lot of ceremony surrounds one drink. The julep first got its start as a medicinal concoction used to settle the stomach. As a cocktail, it blossomed in the American South in the late 1700s, with a decidedly elite air, because not everyone had access to ice nor the silver or pewter cup in which the drink is served. Known as the unofficial drink of the South, the Mint Julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938. Nearly 120,000 Mint Juleps have been sold at the race every year since. That’s a lot of silver cups (which people at the race used to steal, so now they sell them instead).
So if on Saturday, you are tuning in to watch the race, enjoy Derby Day with friends be sure to have the iconic, perennial, best in breed Mint Juleps on hand for if your event/party does that you will always be sure to win, place, or show!
THE HIGHLIFE MINT JULEP
The Recipe 8 mint leaves + 1 mint sprig for garnish 1/4 ounce simple syrup (Best made ahead of time) 2 ounces bourbon, such as Rebel Yell or Ezra Brooks, Crushed ice, Mint Bitters
Gently muddle mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a julep cup, then add the bourbon and pack with ice. Swirl it all around in the cup so that it gets frosty, then add more ice to the top. Garnish with the mint sprig and dash of mint bitters.
CINCO DE MAYO — Sunday May 5th
If the all day drinking of bourbon on Derby Day didn’t wear you out then the quickly following of Cinco de Mayo certainly will. Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexico’s Independence (which is actually September 16th), but rather a celebration of Mexico’s victory in the battle at Puebla on May 5th, 1862 during the Franco-Mexican war. An unlikely victory but thank god they did or we all might be drinking French 75s instead of the classic Margarita!
One of the earliest stories is of the Margarita being invented in 1938 by Carlos “Danny” Herrera at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria, halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Baja California, created for customer and former Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King, who was allergic to many spirits, but not to tequila. So its understandable that the limited ways to disguise the tequila existed. But how did the Margarita become so famous. Synonymous with spring break, Mexico, and wild nights dancing on the table. Why did the Margarita get cast into super stardom? It’s a perfectly balanced cocktail, and like the Mint Julep has its own glass! There are few other tequila cocktails as well known nor do they have as many variations. Spicy jalapeño, Cucumber, Prickly Pear, Strawberry, skinny… the variations are endless. Which is why we are going to pick just one to highlight today.
4 ounces blanco tequila
4 Ounces of homemade mix (thats lime juice, lemon juice, sugar, and water to taste) err on the side of less sweet here
2 ounces of prickly pear syrup (this is the best because it adds a level of sweetness without being cloying)
Salt for rim (optional)
Lime wedge, for garnish….
VIVA LA MEXICO
No matter which side of the border you are on. There is a cocktail for you. Next weekend is one of the most exciting times to be in NYC and one of the most delicious. So wear that sear sucker and derby hat on Saturday and drink that Mint Julep! Then get up bright and early on Sunday and celebrate with sombreros and Margaritas in the streets even if you don’t speak Spanish, we all speak the language of great cocktails.
Is it the venue? Eh, maybe. Is it the lighting? probably not. Although, I did recently attend an event at Cipriani’s for the company “Moment Factory” and let me tell you it was definitely ABOUT THE LIGHTING. Incredible video mapping installation they have put in Cipriani’s Downtown. Back on track here. Is it the Music? Yes, possibly if you are hosting an EDM Festival, Bluegrass Concert, karaoke night music might be the most important thing but for the great majority of events out there the most important element is of course the FOOD & DRINKS.
Think about the last event you attended. What was memorable about it? The conversation, the people, you met, the laughs you shared (hoho) or how incredible the mixology was and the delightfully cute bartender. In most cases the food and the drinks are what people talk about for months after your event. This is what people come for. This is what they expect when attending an event ESPECIALLY if they guests have paid to be there. How many times have you heard people say “I’m not going if I have to buy drinks…” The importance of having solid food and drinks is probably the best investment of your money you can make. With many of our clients who are planning events here in NYC on a budget they say to me that they are spending $8,000.00 on the venue and therefore don’t have the money to spend on the catering… Here is a quick hack. In NYC the wealth of condo buildings that now come with STUNNING common rooms is overwhelming. These common rooms largely are empty 95% of the time and are FREE to the people who live there. All you have to do is inquire amongst your friends to see who has one of these common rooms in their building. Boom I just saved you $7k you can now spend on the food and drinks.
Events are a special time for friends to get together and celebrate so the food and drinks should be special too. If you want a jack & coke just go to the Irish pub on the corner. A jack & coke is not a cocktail. A cocktail consists of at least 3 ingredients. 2 ingredients is an emergency.
Yes, I will have another sustainable seared red snapper with creme fraiche in a crispy wonton taco… they are delightful.