Movers and Shakers, Camille Vidal - She Invented the Mindful Cocktail
Meet Camille Vidal
Creator of the mindful cocktail
If you have been following the no- and low-alcohol drinks industry for some time, chances are that you have already come across Camille Vidal, an industry veteran who has shifted her focus to help us discover mindful drinking. We got a chance to sit down with her to learn about her journey.
If you hadn’t already guessed from her name, her unmistakable accent gives it away when you meet in person: Camille comes from France. She grew up in the beautiful and sunny south, near Lyon. True to the romantic ideals of family life in the French countryside some of the earliest and happiest memories Camille can recall are of time spent with family and friends, and much of the activity of those occasions was centred around food and drink, creating moments of connections across generations. ‘Everyone was welcome, we were always adding another table, another plate.’ Her father is a playwrighter and ows local theatre and Camille’s first part-time job as a teenager was to work in the bar there. She didn’t know it then, but her work in hospitality would shape the path for the rest of her career.
After finishing university, where she studied art and business, she took some time off to go travelling. The perfect job whilst moving around was, of course, in hospitality, and this gave her the opportunity to see, taste and learn how to make cocktails around the world. ‘Having grown up in an artistic family, I was thinking about what was going to be my way to be creative. When I started to master the art of building cocktails, I realised that was it!’ Combining the creativity of working with flavours, creating something that tastes delicious and looks beautiful, and creating an experience for the customer is what makes her tick. You can tell she loves it because she gets a beaming smile just talking about it.
After a few years of working at cocktail bars she decided it was time to level up, and accepted an offer to become a global brand ambassador for the then recently launched family-owned drinks start-up, St Germain, producers of the French elderflower liqueur. This gave her an opening to spread the French art of the aperitif, and the French way of drinking – drinking slowly to savour the moment. She was given the chance to build the brand from the ground up and when it was later acquired by industry giant Bacardi she was given the opportunity to relocate to the US to grow St Germain there, later followed by time in Brazil and China.
Over time, Camille realised that all the travelling, all the entertaining, all the drinking, was starting to take its toll. She wanted to find some balance and decided to experiment with yoga, meditation and mindfulness, and began to question her relationship with alcohol. This was the beginning of her own journey towards becoming a mindful drinker.
Three years ago she decided to leave Pernod Ricard to launch her own business, La Maison Wellness. Their vision is to expand the conversation around mindful drinking and conscious consumption, their purpose is to inspire people to drink well and live like healthy hedonists. Their website is a resource to discover a new way to drink, and help you bring mindfulness into the glass with no- and low-alcohol recipes, inspiration, tips and advice, product recommendations, how-to videos and a community of like-minded people that celebrate epic nights and early mornings.
Camille wants to show the world that we can change the drinking culture for the better, that we can expand on the idea of what a cocktail is, that we can include alcohol-free options and still make great cocktails for people that want to stop drinking, or drink less, without compromising on the look, taste and experience. To that effect Camille created and trademarked the concept of the ‘mindful cocktail’, bringing mindfulness into the glass either by creating alcohol-free options, or by reducing the amount of alcohol typically used. This also naturally creates an opportunity to think more about the other ingredients that go into creating each cocktail. They are no longer just an accessory, but an integral part of enhancing the overall experience and should therefore be selected and prepared with more care and attention. ‘Removing or reducing the amount of alcohol you drink shouldn't be a negative, something you’re cutting down or cutting out; you’re instead creating room for something new and exciting.’
When Camille shares her journey to mindful drinking, people often ask her if there was a specific episode that triggered her to make the transition, but there wasn’t. She says a lot of people don’t think they have to change their relationship with alcohol because ‘they are not alcoholics’, ‘they don’t drink every day’, or ‘everyone has blackouts’. Camille wants to make it normal to become a mindful drinker, saying, ‘You don’t have to hit rock bottom, you don't have to have a big night out that you regret the following day, and then go from one extreme to another by quitting alcohol altogether.’ She wants to inspire and empower people to find a balance that suits them by helping them become more aware of their drinking habits, their limits and what works for them.
‘Becoming a mindful drinker doesn't have to be about quitting alcohol, but finding a balance that works for you; drink something different or just drink less.’
According to Camille, the number one reason people want to change their relationship with drinking is to improve their overall well-being, and that includes mental health. People are starting to realise that in the same way as what you eat affects your well-being – physical as well as emotional – so does what you drink. ‘We, as humans, have binary minds, things are either on or off, when in actual fact the middle path is more sustainable.’
As we prepare to round up the interview, Camille prepares one of her favourite alcohol-free cocktails (recipe on her website). What can I say? It was delicious!
You can follow Camille on Instagram @madamecamillevidal, and @lamaisonwellness, for more information, check out: www.lamaisonwellness.com