The Life Motto Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness Swears By

Plus, the centering routine he practices daily.

October 19, 2018
Photo by Netflix

Jonathan Van Ness is America's sweetheart. And it's easy to see why. The Queer Eye star's personality is infectious. On the Netflix show, he radiates positivity (hello, self care!), fabulosity (yesss, henny), and realness (he is in the business of makeovers, after all) in a way that makes him instantly likable and totally relatable. As the show's grooming expert, he not only plays a critical role in every physical transformation, but is also there for every step of the emotional journey, too. (Pretty much every episode is a case of "I'm not crying, you're crying," but there are plenty of laughs, too.)

Van Ness loves spending most of the day chatting from behind the salon chair or, when filming, trimming off an overgrown beard to reveal a beautiful face hiding beneath. But when I got the chance to sit down with him a few weeks ago in New York City, he shared how important it is that he make plenty of time and space for himself. "I’m an introverted extrovert, so I really don’t love people in my space," he explained. His apartment, as a result, is pretty much reserved for his three cats and boyfriend.

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In the mornings, he'll meditate before he looks at his phone (it's a "centering, grounding habit" that gets him through the day-to-day craziness) and maybe do a bit of yoga or hit the gym. On nights in, he'll recharge by catching up on episodes of the Great British Baking Show and curling up with his cats; very occasionally, he might even pour himself a drink.

"For me, alcohol is not a daily thing. It's very much more of a weekly, sometimes even more like monthly thing," he said. As a relatively fresh face in the world of Hollywood, with its A-list parties and awards shows, this came as a bit of surprise to me at first. But given his dedication to mind and body wellness, it really shouldn't have been a surprise at all. "It's not about letting your hair down and turning so far up that you’re just not feeling your most best self." Instead, it's about enjoying everything in moderation.

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“Loved this! Glad to hear I'm not the only one for whom alcohol is a weekly thing, and, when drinking, where fruity cocktails are the go-to! ”
— Yih-Jen K.

Of course, moderation wasn't always the message that was out there, especially with alcohol. While he was growing up and learning about the world, he explains, it wasn't necessarily popular or cool to drink in moderation. Now, "I just think moderation is gorgeous."

When he does feel like sipping on a cocktail, he'll make a citrusy, herby concoction, aptly named The Van Ness (why would you want to call it anything else?). With a vodka base, bright lemon and blackberry notes, and a fresh rosemary sprig, it's the perfect drink to take you through fall and winter. "It's very pretty," he says—and tasty, too. Here's the recipe, in case you want to try it for yourself:

  • 1 1/2 ounces Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka (now non-GMO)
  • 4 blackberries
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • 1 rosemary sprig, for garnish

Combine the vodka, blackberries, lemon juice, and agave nectar to a shaker with ice. Shake it well and strain into a Tom Collins glass filled with ice. Top it off with club soda and don't forget to garnish with a rosemary sprig—it makes the drink.

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Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.


Yih-Jen K. October 19, 2018
Loved this! Glad to hear I'm not the only one for whom alcohol is a weekly thing, and, when drinking, where fruity cocktails are the go-to!
Erin A. October 19, 2018
Yes! I love that he's putting that message out there for the world.