Q&A: Love Lessons with Drinks First’s Ariana Nathani

This International Women's Day, we're highlighting Ariana Nathani, the 27-year-old dating guru taking the NYC by storm through Drinks First, her beloved dating podcast, event series, and community, that fosters connections and between all kinds of people in NYC and beyond...
Since the podcast's launch in 2019, Ariana Nathani has been bringing people together, one Drink's First episode (and mixer) at a time. Singled out by the likes of The New York TimesThe Cut by NYMag, Elite Daily, Bustle, and more, Ariana has been dubbed "NYC's New Favorite Dating Guru", and a "Gen-Z Business Leader". With her recent 'Bring Your Own Hot Friend' mixer at The Standard Grill in the rearview mirror, naturally we had to pick her brain and chat dating in NYC, success stories, and dating icks.

Tell us about how the idea for Drinks First came about, and the decision to bring it offline to host these IRL mixers

In 2019, I moved back to NYC (where I was born and raised) and noticed that regardless of which friend I was talking to, everyone was experiencing dating issues. It didn't matter their gender, sexuality, age, etc. - there was a shared sentiment that dating was hard, apps were exhausting, and good people were hard to come by. So, I decided I had a solution to address some of those issues, which was to start a dating podcast where I have anonymous guests that listeners can match with. This was pre-COVID, so when the pandemic hit, I got online like everyone else and started posting on TikTok and Instagram. Through that, the Drinks First community grew, and in 2021 when the city opened up, I decided to bring that community into real life and threw my first event at Soho House. Since then, it has been history! The events really took off, so now we try to do something twice a month in NYC (dinners, parties, panels, etc.), and we are also expanding to other cities (Miami, Mumbai, and more).

We know you’re big on intentionality - how does that play a role in the community and relationships you’re fostering through your work?

I think it is so important to have a set of morals and do work that aligns with them. I am super intentional about the way I stage my events, choose podcast guests, which venues I work with, etc. I want to build a company that values diversity, serves as a connection point for all kinds of people, and creates memorable experiences. I think that plays a big role in how I make decisions and how I foster my community and relationships.

As a one-woman-show, how do you find the sweet spot between creating spaces for others and carving out space for yourself?

I can't take full credit for being a one-woman show; there have definitely been a number of people who have helped me along the way, but I get so much joy out of creating spaces where people can truly connect, and that fuels me to keep going. As for carving space out for myself, I think it's a constant learning curve in being able to consciously give myself breaks and knowing that it is okay. As a one-woman show, you realize that your time is truly your biggest asset because what you put in is what you get out. But, it is hard to perform well if you are burnt out, so it is important to be intentional about creating space for yourself; it will only benefit you in the long run.

Tell us about your favorite ‘Drinks First success story’!

Sometimes, it’s the non-traditional successes that are the best! I have couples who have been dating for years, but my favorite success might actually be some of the guy friendships I have helped create. A pleasant unexpected outcome of doing my events has been seeing men find meaningful, long-lasting friendships. One story is that two guys met at a dinner party I held and ended up becoming super close, even going to Paris together!

What's the wildest moment you've experienced while hosting one of your mixer events?

It's always fun when a random celebrity or big influencer shows up. There are also a fair share of wild moments that are not so savory, like catching people doing drugs or fights breaking out in long event lines, etc. Nothing has shocked me that much yet...

If you could debunk one big misconception about dating in NYC right now, what would it be? 

That people are too busy to date. That's entirely not true—there are plenty of people who are willing to make the time, and they do! Showing up to something like a Drinks First event is an action that people take to actively try to meet people!

Rapid Fire Q's...

#1 red flag? 

Has no goals/ambitions.

Go-to pick-up line? 

Pick-up lines are weird, I usually will try to make conversation naturally like "Oo I really like your shoes" or "What are you drinking? Is it any good?".

Before a date do you FBI-level stalk them or go in blind?

I try and go in blind, I think I have a good barometer of someone if I agree to go on a date with them.

Best place to meet friendly singles?

Drinks First events, obviously!!!

Best place for a first date drink?

 Katana Kitten in West Village has always been a go-to; If you’re really trying to impress, try Nubeluz at the Ritz Carlton.

Best place for a second date dinner?

The Standard Grill of course ;) Also love Thai Diner and Rubirosa in Nolita; For something cooler or more intimate, try Bunny in Bed Stuy.


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