Early summer 2019 HighLife produced and designed an intimate yet whimsical French countryside bridal shower for make-up beauty industry trendsetter Lauren Maffettone celebrating her nuptials. 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 and ornate golden flatware to the lush floral arrangements and classic country side fare. Classic Coq Au Vin was on the menu as well as gruyere croques monsieurs, summer tartines, beetroot cured salmon, chevre 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!
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
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.
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.
A 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!
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 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 Posture, QU33R, 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 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)
Whether your event is for 10 or 10,000. Making it unique, entertaining, and impactful is key. Below is a selection of recent private events. So that is why we have provided you with some easy and affordable tips for throwing a first class private party either in your home, apartment, office, or showroom.
The Guests. Make sure your guestlist is worked out ahead of time so you have a proper rough estimate of who is coming and why they are coming. If it’s a media event you want to maximize your exposure and impressions. So invite the right people. This doesn’t always mean the people with the most amount of followers or XYZ media publication what it means are people who care. Depth not width. Building a cultivated following of “fans” who actually really care and won’t break your stuff! You know your friends will show up but what about those “a little harder to reach” — see if you can give them a reason to attend, add some sort of value to their experience hence #2.
2. Food and Drinks. Besides the sexy guests and the sweet beats this is probably right up there with the top reasons why people attend parties. Yeah the socializing is fun but what about the treats? Great food and beverage is imperative and hiring professionals to take care of this for you leaves you without the headache and also makes your event special. If you are balling on a budget then serve 1 specialty cocktail that everyone likes ala MOSCOW MULE or MARGARITA and then simple beer/wine/prosecco. Done.
3. The Staff. Make sure you always have event staff whenever you put together your events. Having a helpful hand and a professional bartender or waiter or both! Will allow you to be a guest at your own party! Too many times we hear “oh my best friend Zach is a bartender so he is gonna do it.” cut to: later that evening when 100 people are in your apt and Zach is stone cold drunk in the back. If you splurge on any one thing in my opinion this is the best because then you don’t need to clean up afterwards.
4. The Playlist Ideally you should have a DJ and if you want to add that little something extra live music is always a treat whether it be an accoustic performance, jazz solo, mariachi band, or a guy that plays the spoons. These little touches go a long way. If you don’t have any of the above I highly recommend the pre-loaded mixes on Sound cloud and itunes.
5. The Neighbors Always, Always, always, invite the neighbors. Be up front about your party and never try to sneak it in there. Most of the time the neighbors politely decline but at least they have fair warning that the music will be thumpin till at least 1:00 a.m. I mean, let’s be realistic 1:00 a.m. end time. 2:00 a.m.- 4:00 a.m. in the club. 4:00 a.m.- 5am Hotel lobby. That’s the order, right?
6. Stay sober…? Or relatively so. You are the host and you want to be the host with the most right? This does not mean falling apart at 11:00 p.m. because you had 3 Cosmos just nervously waiting for people to arrive and realizing that no one in NYC arrives when the party starts. Always plan for people to start arrive 1 hour after the start time. Myself, on the other hand, loves to come to parties early and leave early. You get the first dibs on all the great food and beverages. You ACTUALLY get to talk to the host and lastly you don’t want to stick around till the bitter end when things tend to get messy Like we stated above 1:00 a.m. -Hit a good club. As the host you want to last the whole night so pace yourself, drink some water. Remember, you are the star of the evening!
NEW YORK SPRING FASHION WEEK IS HERE! NYFW is one of the most exciting times in New York City as prominent designers from all over the world come to premier their new clothing lines. HighLife Productions has worked with many brands in the past from providing cocktails and fine treats before and after shows to comprehensive event design and production. Take a look at some past HighLife Productions Fashion Week events below.
Author: Paul Erlanger, Intern for HighLife Productions
We are event producers here in NYC. HighLife Productions is founded on the belief that in our digital age we still want real human interaction. What better way to achieve this than a party. Which is precisely why we are here. Welcome. Have a seat. Have a drink. Have something to eat. Dance. It’s going to be a long strange trip.
HighLife was tapped by Rock Barnes x Cashmere 360 to cultivate the food and beverage program for the launch of the Rocky Barnes collaboration with Cashmere 360 during the NYFW launch of their Soho pop-up in 2019. Talum inspired bites like the marinated red snapper tacos, grilled ripe mango tajin, and homemade blue corn masa empanadas were on the menu while guests sipped on spicy/smoky prickly pear margaritas and luxe pineapple agua frescas.
HighLife Model Staffing division was selected by Instagram to support their annual summer event. Over 150 top Instagram executives including the founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger gave keynote speeches to the invited audience in one of Brooklyn’s most sought after waterfront rooftops. Delectable bites prepared by celeb chef Ashton Keefe and HighLife bar support paired local brews and vineyards for any incredible evening under the moon. The Empire State Building even lit up purple and orange!
HighLife Productions was tapped by WHITMAN INSIGHTS to put together this private Amagansett feast for 10 people. including 4 Passed Bites, 5 Main Stations, Desserts, Cocktails, and more. HighLife Productions signature “Farm-to-Bar” cocktails made the transition from day to night easy as these dog days of summer toast our dreams and infuse our hopes. A memorable Hamptons Indian Summer.
Services provided: NYC Event Catering, Cocktail Design & Mixology, NYC Model Event Staffing, NYC Event Design, NYC Event production
A Bridal Shower is an important tradition filled with excitement and fun. An excuse to get together with all of your besties and throw down. Here our chef Rapt Affairs took things to a whole other level with some innovative farm-to-bar cocktails and delicious eats. A tropical themed escape in NYC that featured a Fig & Honey infused coconut water rum cocktail served in a coconut, a watermelon, and vodka collins with grilled rose petals and finally the “Bea-llini” with sparkling rosé, green market peach, and lavender. Delish!