Cocktail Hour with Arianna Huffington

Featured in The Times, June 5, 2016

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I want to convert you to tequila,” says Arianna Huffington with a raised eyebrow. “This is Casa Dragones,” explains the founder of the Huffington Post news website as she wrestles an elegant, glass-stoppered bottle from a bright blue box. “It’s an amazing tequila in terms of not having after-effects.” She hands over a glass. It’s smooth and buttery, like a greasy white wine, with only a hint of fire and spice kicking in at the end.

“I discovered it through Sean Parker,” she continues (casually namedropping the billionaire Napster founder). “I was saying, ‘Drink doesn’t really agree with me.’ He said, ‘Trust me, try it. You will not feel any side effects. Trust me!’”

Parker is just one of many Silicon Valley impresarios, sports stars and public figures who flit in and out of her stories. Names drop like plates in a taverna. Jeff Bezos, Melinda Gates, Richard Branson and the basketball star Kobe Bryant are just some of the famous figures who make cameo appearances. Huffington, 65, still has a distinctive Greek accent, even though she left Athens at 18 to go to Cambridge.

It’s 4.30pm on a Sunday. Huffington has been scrambling round New York all day, promoting her new book, The Sleep Revolution. “No 2 on The New York Times bestseller list,” she smiles. “I can’t complain.” We meet in a suite at the Mercer hotel, a minimalist palace packed with models and actors. She has turned up with hair and make-up picture ready, in a figure-hugging black dress. After the first drink, she suggests we relocate to her apartment, just across the street — casually tucking the tequila bottle and its fancy packaging under her arm before we leave.