Never talk about your failures…

The event that never happened.

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.

THE MISSION

A NY GALA

x

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.

Risk.

Fail.

Risk again.

Tyler Hollinger, Owner

Renderings by Joel Fitzpatrick

HighLife Productions

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…

Authenticity.

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.

HLP

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

Photo by @larufoto

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

Photo by @larufoto – Luis Antonio Ruiz

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…

xoxo

Tyler Hollinger

HighLife Productions

Photo by @larufoto – Luis Antonio Ruiz

THE COUNTRY’S ONLY FARM-TO-BAR COCKTAIL FESTIVAL

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

Photo by @larufoto – Luis Antonio Ruiz

The 5th annual fete and immersive summer garden party, produced by Tyler Hollinger of  HighLife ProductionsAndrew 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 TequilaThe 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.

Photo by @larufoto – Luis Antonio Ruiz

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!

Avec Amour!

-Tyler Hollinger, Owner/Producer HIGHLIFE PRODUCTIONS

Production & Design : HighLife

Catering: Rapt NY

Florals: Brenton Wolf Design

Rentals: Broadway Party Rental

Venue: The Foundry LIC

Desert Bar: So Simply Sweet

Photography: Travis W Keyes

WaterColors: Anthony Kieren

Mime: Nick Adeel

5 tips to help you plan a dinner party?

5 tips to help you plan a dinner party

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.

XOXO

Tyler Hollinger

 — 

Tyler Hollinger is the Founder and Creative Director of HighLife Productions, a creative event production agency in NYC. See more at: www.TheHighLifeProductions.com and on Instagram HighLife Productions @ TheHighLifeProductions.

Why Event Staffing Matters

HighLife Model Hannah McKechnie

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.

HighLife Model Adrian Gorbaliuk

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.

XOXO

HIGHLIFE PRODUCTIONS

How to make a Mint Julep or How to make a Margarita

Derby Day or Cinco de Mayo??

HighLife Productions April 24, 2019

Mint Julep

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.

HIGHLIFE MARGARITA

INGREDIENTS

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.

XOXO

HIGHLIFE PRODUCTIONS

Go to the profile of HighLife Productions

HighLife Productions

Top on MediumThe Enduring Myth of ‘Complicated’ Female SexualityAllie VolpeApr 222.1KTop on MediumYou should never ever run directly against Node.js in production. Maybe.

Go to the profile of Burke Holland

Burke Holland Apr 22 2.7K

5 Things Every Event Should Have

What’s the most important thing when hosting an event?

HighLife Productions March 26, 2019

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.

Always say please and thank you.

Tyler Hollinger

HighLife Productions

Go to the profile of HighLife Productions

HighLife Productions

Top on MediumThe Enduring Myth of ‘Complicated’ Female SexualityAllie VolpeApr 222.1K

How to market your brand!

Only you can see this message

This story is not part of the metered paywall. Learn more.

The underpriced attention of experiential marketing and why its authenticity has 10x the rewards of paid digital advertising or why computers suck.

Go to the profile of HighLife Productions

HighLife Productions February 24, 2019

Have you noticed the growing presence of advertisements online? The computer or cell phone has become a device whose sole purpose is to show you ads. Wherever your attention seems to be an ad will follow. Marketing has corrupted email, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and more. But I wonder sometimes about whether this pervasive advertising is damaging brand identity. How annoying is a pop-up ad when all you want to do is read the article from Variety or ESPN. How annoying is the now required YouTube pre-roll advertisement when what you really want to do is watch the video. Personally speaking I have never once purchased an online course about “growth-hacking” because it showed me an advertisement before a Casey Neistat video. In fact the overwhelming influx of digital advertising has just made me less and less confidant in what I am seeing online is actually true. (isn’t that appropriate though? Shouldn’t we take what we see/read online with a grain of salt? At what point did we start believing things that we read online?) In fact more and more articles, blogs etc are actually just written by computers with the sole purpose of getting key words onto the internet so that it will come up once someone searches them in the hopes of converting a sale, gaining a follower, or influencing a political ideology. Don’t get me wrong I feel some types of advertisements are wonderful and let your fans know what you are doing and to remind them of cool stuff that is up and coming. But most of the intrusive digital advertising is just that intrusive and makes me like that brand/person/company/organization a little less. Did you know there is a reason why those little “x’s” on pop-up ads are so small and hard to find. Because every time you click on the ad instead of the “x” the computers read that you clicked on the ad because you liked it. This kind of thing makes me believe the true value of online advertising to be declining. On the other hand if you read or see online that your friend, family, or someone you follow posted about something recommending it/praising it you are way more likely to consider it. Hence the rise of influencer marketing and mirco-influencers. This new ‘word-of-mouth’ is the next frontier (that is until we read that our favorite influencer was paid XXX amount of dollars to trick millennials into going to a ridiculous EDM concert on an island in the exumas.)

To my point. The combination of a real experience with a carefully selected amount of micro-influencers of a specific genre/category creates the prefect storm of everything you hope to achieve with your marketing dollars and more. Creating authentic experiences around a brand that allow the consumer to taste/feel/see/understand and then share it with their following is the ultimate in marketing. Frankly it’s just good business. Being Authentic. Being truthful, Being real.

It’s my belief that as the internet matures we will see less of an ROI from google adwords, banner pop-ups, paid FB & IG and more of an ROI in experiential marketing and the importance of creating an ‘experience’ around a brand that can be shared and not just some staid photo of a brand on scroll endorsed by bots and fake followers.

Authenticity and integrity is always the best policy.

Go to the profile of HighLife Productions

HighLife Productions

Groomzilla

HighLife Productions February 9, 2019

Groomzilla: Breaking the mystique that a straight male groom cannot plan a wedding in 2019″ one event producer’s story on breaking gender norms.

By

Tyler Hollinger

Did you ever notice that in the movies the wedding planner is always gay? Or Female? Who could forget Martin Short’s charismatic turn as the effervescent Franck Eggelhoffer. Or the seminal classic The Wedding Planner staring an Oscar worthy performance from JLO and McLo (that’s McConaughey when he plays opposite Jennifer Lopez). In fact I have been planning and producing events for almost 10yrs now and out of all the wedding planners I know. I cannot name a single straight male. Is it because straight men generally aren’t detailed orientated, they don’t know the finer points of floral design, they can’t comprehend intelligent lighting or various levels of invitation card stock?

In the current marital landscape it is widely agreed that it is “her day.” I rarely hear brides to be talking about their wedding being ‘their day’ or even a non-gender normative “day of love.” Perhaps it’s the social media pressure heaped on females in our society to live their BEST LIFE, or showcase only the GREATEST MOMENTS, when in reality the pressure to always look your best, be your best, and show the world that your wedding is better than all of your “friends” whom you don’t really like that much anyway, is far too much responsibility for one day. Remember getting out of bed to put make up on and then getting back in bed and take a photo of yourself — yea everyone knows that’s fake. Or maybe “her day” is an archaic vestige left from a pre-#meetoo era where the wedding constituted a sumptuous dowry that went along with the bride. Wouldn’t that be nice for all us grooms out there.

It is my opinion that the role of “wedding planner” has always been played by a gay man or a woman because the bride would not feel comfortable with a straight man planning “her day”. Would a straight male planner be able to adjust the bust of a wedding gown on the fly, gab & joke with the bridal party, or supply emergency tampons?

There is so much more that goes into planning what many consider to be the 2nd most important day of your life (I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the inevitable birth of a child…)? Not only is marriage permanent (right?), it’s a celebration of love with all your closest friends and family, and ultimately, in most cases, the most expensive party of your life. It is a culmination of your adulthood, a pronouncement to live your life for someone else, an invitation to defining what is important in your life and a chance for you to brag about how much money you have.

Florals by Brenton Wolf

This brings me back to my movie metaphor. Did you see Crazy Rich Asians? For what reason is the entire wedding sitting in neck high field grass during the ceremony. To talk about over-the-top wedding celebrations for a moment; this pressure to show people how happy, successful, wealthy, you are has obscured the point of the whole affair. Marriage is a celebration of love and a chance for both families to converge and have a great time. Comparing your marriage, your life, your decisions to others is a death blow that only leads to unhappiness. After all comparison is the thief of joy; I think Kylie Jenner said that. Oh, and thank you Instagram for making it so easy for us to visually compare ourselves to each other before I’ve even had my morning coffee.

Florals by Brenton Wolf

So why can’t I plan our wedding? Is it toxic masculinity for me to assume that a straight man could do this? Am I mansplaining to much what my design vision, detailed floor plans, and seating arrangements are? Are my color schemes to masculine on a date that in the history of the world has been regarded with adjectives like blush, whimsical, airy, delicate and gentle. Are men not capable of these adjectives or is it everyone around us who assumes this. You know what happens when you assume right? Good thing my fiancé don’t care what others think.

This much hyped day is fraught with so many unrealistic expectations that every Bride should have a talented planner and a best friend behind them. Good thing I am both. Talented planners not only come up with the overall vision, the design schematics, the vendor negotiations, but they also offer the gray hairs of experience that only time can provide (my greys are actually natural blond highlights). Smart planning does not require big budgets. It requires thoughtful moments that are budget optimized for exponential impact. Spending money on the best bang for your buck and on your priorities. If having a dope AF oyster bar with 9 different kinds of regional oysters, giant Alaskan crab legs, and cockles that would that would make your mother-in-law blush is a priority for you; then go for it. (And invite me!) If you are more discerning in your budget spends then finding artful ways to achieve your vision is how you maximize your dollar. Did you realize that white carnations are making a comeback and white roses are significantly over priced (and a cliché). Since I have a wealth of experience in the events industry I am able to call upon favors from my favorite vendors. That’s just an “inside perk”. Here’s another secret. Every vendor wants to do your wedding and if you give them a budget they will tell you what you can get as opposed to them telling you what it will cost. Managing expectations is often times the hardest of mountains to overcome. That and explaining to your bride to be that the venue only holds 150ppl and your mother’s cousins cousin might have to get left of the list!

Ah, compromise. The cornerstone of our relationship. It is this aspect of teamwork and compromise I wish on all newlywed couples. Having the self-awareness to realize who is better suited for what tasks, is an important lesson that allows us to divide and conquer. Planning a wedding is part of the journey to getting married, it is a test of your relationship and a solid foundation for a lifetime of marriage. Patience is another virtue. I am still working on this one.

Tyler Hollinger

Lauren Maffettone

Wedding Date: 9/14/2019

Stone Harbor, NJ

Go to the profile of HighLife Productions

HighLife Productions

How to Make a Cocktail for a Drag Queen??

[SLAAAAAAAAAAAAY EDITION]

HighLife Productions November 6, 2017


Ahhhhhhhhh….the age old question “How to make a cocktail fit for a Queen?” a drag queen that is! HighLife Productions was selected by Kettle Agency (WeareKettle) to put together a hand crafted mixology program for their recent #digitalindrag featuring MILK (@bigandmilky) SASHA VELOUR (@sashavelour) and BIBLEGIRL (@biblegirl666) . Each queen was perfectly fitted for their own cocktail creation based on their own distinct fieeeeeerceness! boom.

drag queen is a person, usually male, who dresses in clothing of the opposite sex and often acts with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles for the purpose of entertainment or fashion. … While drag is very much associated with gay men and gay culture, there are drag artists of all sexualities and the culture spans labels and qualifications. Each queen is truly unique to their own heritage and 100% authentic which is why the marketplace and their followings are entirely over the moon about them!

BIBLEGIRL

A relative new-cumer to the drag scene… Branding and image are very important to Bible Girl. Using the hashtag #BibleGirlSucks, she has built an impressive following of her own, on Instagram in particular. “I had just finished a performance and was talking to a friend when I got pulled away from my conversation by this person who tells me ‘Look, you’re beautiful, you’re funny, you’re great, but don’t perform. You suck,’ and I just took it and ran with it.” In addition one of her favorite beverages is the classic La Croix. These elements matched up perfectly for what we called the “Bless You Child”

HOW TO BLESS THIS CHILD

  • (1) La Croix Berry Seltzer. (pour out 1/3 of the can to leave room for the most important part! The Booze.
  • (2) The Booze — We used a dry london gin but substitute your favorite alcohol as you please. We created a blackberry and mint infused gin syrup. Take fresh blackberries and reduce over heat adding water and sugar to sweeten into syrup. Once reduced and mashed place in food processor and strain all the little bits out. Combine with gin for your syrup. You are ready to pour.
  • (3) The Garnish. We had a lot of fun here as you can see we choose three different types of berries, metallic straws, and of course the miniature rosary so you can repent after all the sinning you will be doing from drinking this refreshing concoction.
  • **** As a final twist at the very end we added a spec of dry ice to the can so it smokes and bubbles delighting the senses and perfect for the photography

SASHA VELOUR

Sasha Velour is best known as the winner of Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9. She is the creative director of Velour: The Drag Magazine, and produces the critically-acclaimed monthly drag show Nightgowns. Sasha’s visual art has been featured in PostureQU33R, Cicada, The Nib, InkBRICK, Comics Workbook Magazine, as well as in several solo gallery shows. Often decked in pink, more delicate tones we created a floral inspired tequila based cocktail that still had a lot of muscle.

HOW TO SASH-AAAAAAAAY

(1) step one we infused a simple reposado tequila (Herradura) with rose watermelon juice and fresh agave.

(2) Fresh watermelon juice best as is with out alot of fuss. In a shake mix you reposado tequila, watermelon juice, hint of lime juice, and a whisper of agave. Shake vigorously until nice and frothy.

(3) Pout out over a cut crystal 2inch clear ice cube and garnish with edible pansy (hey who you calling a pansy) and gold glitter for that added touch of sparkle to say “Hey handsome. Over here 😉

MILK

Milk is the stage name of Daniel Donigan, an American figure skater and drag performer. He is best known for being a contestant on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.He was a competitive figure skater, for like, ever.

Dan joined the Marc Jacobs International family in 2009. He loves clothes, like any teenage girl. Duh. He was the Merchandising Manager at Marc Jacobs in NYC. MILK can be seen tackling models at every “Marc” runway show.

Dan breast-formed a drag group called “The Dairy Queens” which is cream-based on the East Coast. The members are: MILK, Skim Burley (MILK’s Drag Daughter), Yoohoo, Linda Lakes, & Juggz.

Obviously no one likes a MILKY COCKTAIL EVER — — except maybe a pina colada or maybe coconut milk….. annnnnnnyyyyyyywayyyyyy!!!! We were able to do a nice little work around.

MILK & HONEY

(1) This lychee inspired vodka based cocktail is infused with fresh lemon juice, lychee pure-hey! and topped with a creamy white espuma (Vegan)

(2) a bit more complicated than the rest because of the espuma but here is your at home hack to make it happen. Dry shake 3 ounces of egg-white, Pour 4 ounces of citron vodka into your shaker with 2 ouces of lychee puree and 1 dash of lemon. Add lemon bitters and shake like a polaroid picture. Upon pouring into your glass you will have a supple viscous foam gently sitting on top! (non-vega)

Always drink like a queen…!

XOXO

Highlife Productions

Follow us on IG:

@thehighlifeproductionsco