Each week, we post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.
Mary Campbell is founder of the Cocktail Party, based out of Atlanta, Georgia. The Cocktail Party is an anti-movement, a philosophical call for people to remember that politics need not stand at the center of our lives the way it so often does today. Members wish to drink excellent cocktails, but the core of the Cocktail Party’s anti-mission runs deeper. The Cocktail Party exists to recognize and celebrate a less instrumentalized existence, a break from the world’s constant pressure to turn every occasion into an opportunity for achievement, improvement or growth. Cocktail Party members share an appreciation for the great beauty the world has to offer and which is so often missed. This, of course, is often done over cocktails.
Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?
Mary Campbell: Despite coming from a family of professional drinkers who live in a town that has made binge drinking a competitive sport, I did not have my first drink until I was a junior in college. It was an amaretto sour. Shortly thereafter, I segued to Tanqueray and tonic.
How did/does your family treat drinking?
I grew up not thinking of alcohol as something that was “taboo.” My parents often had wine with dinner, sometimes cocktails beforehand. They were very “European” in their relationship to drinking.
How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?
Cocktail hour–whether it involves actual cocktails or wine—is part of my daily ritual. It is a signal that the workday has ended and the time to unwind and talk about the day’s events has begun.
If you have kids, how is the subject of drinking handled? Do you drink in front of them? With them?
I have dogs and, yes, I do drink in front of them. I used to have a cat who drank Manhattans out of martini glasses, so I think I have passed the love of cocktails on to my four-legged children.
Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?
I tend to embrace the idea of steady moderation. Over-drinking results in hangovers and behavior unbecoming of a proper young lady.
What’s your drink of choice? Why?
How do I pick one? I love wine. It is likely what I drink the most–perhaps because I continue to read studies suggesting that moderate wine drinking is both good for the mind and body. That said, I have a hard time turning down a well-made margarita.
Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?
What about the worst time?
If I could remember it.
Has culture or religion influenced your drinking?
Culture, perhaps. Southern Louisiana is a culture that emphasizes food and wine/liquor. This was not lost on me. I did hear a story about Jesus turning water into wine, which I thought was pretty amazing, so perhaps religion has reinforced my love of the cocktail as well.
Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?
I recently got the book, In the Land of Cocktails, written by Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, which I have enjoyed thoroughly. The stories are fabulous, and the recipes are wonderful.
What do you like most about drinking?
The ritual around it: the glasses, the accoutrements, the preparation. Having friends over for drinks and dinner is something I savor; those details set the stage for what I hope will ensue each time–great conversation.
If you could be any drink, what would it be? Why?
Probably a margarita. Tequila has a reputation for being a little edgy and provocative. Good tequila is perfect for sipping, like a cognac. Mediocre tequila can be mixed with lime juice and cointreau and transformed into something delicious. Tequila can make the most out of any situation and, though it appears fun and lighthearted on the surface, has depth and complexity that not everyone can appreciate.