Toasting his recent Broadway run, a new series and a craft cocktail launch, multihyphenate Neil Patrick Harris remains the life of the party.
The call to action on the site for his entertainment and lifestyle company, Wondercade (wondercade. com), says it all. It encourages us all to eat more deliciously, drink more audaciously, travel more adventurously and live more stylishly. That carpe diem approach is the modus operandi of multihyphenate Neil Patrick Harris.
“As a parent, I want to make sure that every experience that my kids are having is as memorable as possible,” he offers. “It doesn’t have to be necessarily a constant edict—but why not if you can?” he says. “You don’t have to just do hot dogs and burgers. You can come up with a playlist.
You can make a specialty drink… and just make it a memorable time. Life is a big bucket, and we just want to make a long list.” From the start, Harris has been mesmerized by magic and things that intrigue the mind. “I’ve always been fascinated by how things work—by the creation of things—and therefore, structure intrigues me,” he explains. “I’m fascinated by the structure of a crossword puzzle. Someone has designed it. Someone has found clues of a certain difficulty level and then managed to put them all into the same puzzle that makes it solvable. I am fascinated by an escape room in the same way.” Harris’ brilliant and inquisitive mind is clearly part of the secret to his success—and something he hopes to pass on to his children.
“I’m constantly crowing to them about the value of experiential education,” he says. “When you’re in a country, and you’re immersed in it, you learn it in a much deeper and more meaningful way. So that probably goes without saying when it comes to geography and world history. But I think the same thing can happen with a great meal or with a great production, or with a circus, or with a hike. I just think when you’ve decided to find the experience, as opposed to passively letting the experience come to you, I feel that somehow the energy around you honors and rewards you for making the effort.”
And energy-filled experiences are certainly something Harris knows well. From his charismatic performances on screens big and small to the stage, Harris knows how to captivate. In his most recent run on Broadway in Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Harris is heralded as one of our time’s most gifted and astute comedic performers. “[From] a young age, I’ve always enjoyed physical comedy,” Harris shares of his deep respect for the more technical aspects of comedy. “That fall seems very random and chaotic—and is actually quite specific and technical. And so that almost feels like physical magic to me. When I got to see Charlie Chaplin films, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, and how they were able to use physical ineptitude… or overly impressive physical feats like Jackie Chan, as part of their repertoire, I was hypnotized by it. And I’ve been a big physical theater fanatic and love people who have dedicated their life to entertainment through their physical form. So when I see circuses, I’m drawn to the clowning. When I see big Broadway shows where they move around, and everyone has to be exactly where they need to be with quick changes… I love it. I just love it. And so, any chance I have to join forces with others that do it all the time, I would leap at the opportunity. I’d probably fall once I landed. And I guess that’s the point.”
His new project, Drag Me to Dinner, offers a competition to throw the most fantastic dinner party on a dime. “It’s really just to watch amazing drag queens outside their comfort zone come up with food and drink options, design and decor options, and entertainment. David and I, who produced it, thought it was innately watchable,” he says. And Harris and his husband, David Burtka, are renowned for throwing one heck of a party themselves.
“Throwing a good party is just trying to think through as many different elements as possible,” Harris offers. “Not only consumption… but also what music will be playing? What’s the vibe? What’s the entertainment? So you’re not making a great dinner party singular. And David has a wise thing that I think helps any party—to actively include everyone that’s coming, tasking them with either bringing something within a theme, or providing coming up with a game, or handling the beverage, or something so that everyone has some agency and some ownership within the party itself. That seems to help.”
“We just loved the property and have honored its roots. We call it Funhouse Farm, and it’s kind of our end game. It’s not the house we want to build to impress—it’s the house where we want to get old and watch our kids get married in.” NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
As for the perfect craft cocktail? Harris now has us covered there, thanks to his recently debuted espresso martini launched in collaboration with Thomas Ashbourne (thomasashbourne.com). “An espresso martini is delicious, and I rarely order it because I recognize that it’s a challenge for the mixologist or the bar staff because they normally have to get the restaurant department to make an espresso shot and then bring it back to them for them to make a drink,” he explains. “And so, given extra steps were involved for such a delicious drink, I thought that that was a perfect opportunity to combine it all in one can... . Thomas Ashbourne is a very classy brand. And I think the idea of drinking a martini is a classic—and when you add espresso to it, it gives you extra pep. So we spent a lot of time finding the perfect balance of taste and flavor and coffee beans… so that it’s an espresso martini but doesn’t give you coffee breath. It’s sweet but doesn't feel like a hard cider. And because of that, I feel like it’s legitimately a great drink for all situations.”
As for what is left on his bucket list, Harris shares we will likely see him behind the camera more. “I turn 50 this year, so I think a lot will change,” he says. “I think I’m going to go from acting more into directing. That’s a big bucket that I’m still building. And, hopefully, it’ll be watertight. I also really want to juggle five. I can juggle three and four but can’t seem to get the five patterns.” Just a few magic tricks left up his sleeve that we mere mortals could never attempt.
Harris and Burtka have made East Hampton their haven thanks to snatching up a storied property that a cruise once occupied, so the story goes. “It was a place that performers stayed at when they had aged out… or when they were recovering on the mend… or sometimes evading the law. And so it was sort of safe haven for those that were different,” Harris explains. “We just loved the property and have honored its roots. We call it Funhouse Farm, and it’s kind of our end game. It’s not the house we want to build to impress—it’s the house where we want to get old and watch our kids get married in.”
“When I’m there, I feel that I’m home,” says Harris. “There’s just always a constant list of things to accomplish,” he says, lamenting the long list of maintenance required to keep up the property. “Gosh, living in the Hamptons… I wish I had Hamptons money so that I could have a staff to handle all these things—but, yeah, I guess that’s what life’s about.”
In other words, as Harris says, life’s a big bucket, and we just want to make a long list. Carpe diem.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF TRUNK ARCHIVE PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROBERT TRACHTENBERG