In an exclusive interview with Body+Soul, Jules Sebastian reveals how the start of COVID lockdown forced her to do a lot of soul-searching – but posting Friday-night cocktail videos on Instagram became her saving grace.
As she attempts to mimic Victoria Beckham’s cheeky pose for our cover this week, Jules Sebastian kicks her leg up in the air. It’s a dicey move – she must nail the look and avoid kicking her cosmopolitan directly on to her outfit while doing so.
“I hope you got the shot,” she tells the crew on her Body+Soul cover shoot. “Because I don’t think I can get my leg up again without putting out my back!”
Why the cosmo? Firstly, it’s the drink she sipped with best friend Samantha Jade at New York’s Plaza Hotel after they went on a Sex And The City tour last year, and Sebastian cites it as the most memorable cocktail she’s ever enjoyed.
But beyond that, Sebastian is marking the end of a year when she became known as something of a mixologist.
Back in May, as the nation endured weeks of lockdown, the stylist started posting videos of herself preparing a Friday-night cocktail on Instagram.
What started as a one-off post soon became a weekly event after she realised her followers (now 225K and counting) started replicating the cocktails she had made and were tagging her in their posts.
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Six months later, Sebastian is inundated with requests from followers to make their favourites and has caught the attention of several Australian and global brands looking to align themselves with her and connect with her audience.
But then one follower sent her a voice recording singing the cocktail jingle she made up (she sings it in hushed tones to escape vocal judgement from her husband Guy, she tells Body+Soul with a laugh).
“He [her follower] sang and then asked, ‘Please, are you making a cocktail tonight? I need it!’ And I had this tiny pang where I thought, ‘Oh, no… I’m encouraging people to drink.’ But it’s not about drinking to excess. The Friday-night cocktails are a way of celebrating the week. Whether it’s getting through home-schooling or the challenge of working from home, to whatever it is that we’re all trying to get through these days.”
So while those end-of-week tipples may have become a weekly ritual at her place, Sebastian stresses they are merely a pre-dinner drink and not the start of a wild night or boozy weekend.
“We drink the cocktails I make for the video and then whatever is left over in the shaker. Sensibly and in moderation – that’s how I party. It’s not in me to go for it. I’m just too… tired,” the mother of two says.
“Besides, we’ve got to be up for school sport the next morning.”
With a surge in videos of this variety this year, Sebastian suggests hers broke through “because I’ve become more OK with who I am. If I say something silly on camera, then I say something silly. If I say something wrong about the ingredients, if I give a bad hot tip… it doesn’t matter. I’m just being myself.”
Her videos do indeed offer a more relatable experience than the filtered perfection that has become the norm across social media, with plenty of spills, mispronounced ingredients and the occasional stuff-up – all of which she meets with a shrug and a giggle.
And while Sebastian is quick to laugh at the absurdity of rediscovering one’s identity through mixing cocktails on Instagram, she also insists that’s exactly what has happened.
The start of lockdown prompted a lot of soul-searching for Sebastian, who tells Body+Soul, “I was having a tiny panic attack, going, ‘If I’m not Jules the stylist, then does that make me Jules the stay-at-home mum? Or Guy Sebastian’s wife?’ I started asking myself: who am I when the world stops?
“And it turns out that the less weight I put behind the things I hide behind – such as my career, my husband or my kids – and embrace myself, mistakes and all, the more people have embraced me.”
With Christmas just around the corner, Sebastian confesses she rivals Clark Griswold when it comes to decorating the house.
“I am a fiend for Christmas. Just try and hold me back. There’s nothing that I won’t touch with tinsel, fairy lights, a bauble. It makes me so happy. I love the season; I love what it brings to us. Everyone stops for a minute. It’s that time when you get to be with your family to make memories.”
That enthusiasm extends to seasonal beverages and treats, too. But while she recommends one or two cocktails, she urges caution, because “you want to be able to remember [those get-togethers]”.
So, what can we expect from the cocktails she’s whipping up for the big day? “Get ready,” she says.
“The summer cocktails are coming. I’ve done the creamy, chocolatey concoctions and now it’s time for the fresh, frozen, fruity ones. Think watermelon margaritas. It’s going to be a good time… in moderation. I’ll still be the girl in bed by 10pm.”
Cocktail hour with a nutritionist
Michele Chevalley Hedge – nutritionist and author of Eat, Drink & Still Shrink – advises which cocktails to indulge in and which ones to go easy on at those Yuletide parties
“Opt for daiquiris made with fresh fruits that contain vitamin C, antioxidants and natural sugars. Vitamin C will help counteract the negative effects of alcohol, too.”
“This will be your cleanest, and a lower-sugar, option than most cocktails, but watch out for the alcohol content of spirits.”
“Beware of how much sugar syrup is used, and ditch the maraschino cherry and the sugar-rimmed glass.”
“Ask the bartender to ditch the lime sugar syrup and replace with the juice of one whole lime and add just tequila, triple sec and lots of ice.”
“This is traditionally consumed before a meal for its bitter content to aid in digestion, but just remember not too many – the benefits of drinking alcohol decrease as consumption increases.”
“Call it mudslide or sugarslide. In any case, you’re drinking a dessert. So step away after one.”
For more tips, head here.