Celebrity Tequila. Cultural Appropriation? Gentrification?

The author has not received (nor sought) any funding from any of the brands noted in this Post. Any opinions are solely those of the author.

The world’s first celebrity tequila is said to have begun with a People magazine article from December 1983 showing the nuptials of rocker Keith Richards and model Patti Hansen at the Finisterra Hotel in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Back in Southern California, a Richards worshipper and growing rock star, Sammy Hagar, saw the magazine and thought the luxury resort looked pretty spectacular; he immediately booked a trip down with his wife. This trip prompted Sammy to open a nightclub, restaurant and bar in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, which he called Cabo Wabo.

In the late 1990s, Hagar began selling his patrons a house brand of hand-made tequila he commissioned from a family-owned distillery in the state of Jalisco.

In May 2007 it was announced that Hagar would sell an 80% interest in Cabo Wabo Tequila to Gruppo Campari, the world’s sixth-largest spirits company, for $80 million.

Sammy Hagar – Cabo Wabo

Adam Levine and Sammy Hagar – Santo Mezquila

This Tequila offers two celebrity founders for the price of one. Hagar is the Van Halen singer hired to replace David Lee Roth. Levine is the Maroon 5 frontman who became a coach on the reality talent television show, The Voice.

Adam Levine (R) and Sammy Hagar (L)

Together they have released (the “Worlds first”) mezquila – a cross between Tequila and mezcal.

Oh Lord. Where do I even begin with this? They have essentially bottled a destilado de agave which is neither tequila nor mezcal yet strangely both. It is a blend of the blue agave (the ONLY variety allowed to product Tequila under current rules) and an espadin typically used to produce mezcal (1). The Mexican government has imposed strict regulation to control what can be called Tequila and how it is made. Those that adhere to these regulations, including the registration of all agave grown for Tequila production, are authenticated by the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) and carry a NOM number (Norma Oficial Mexicana) on each bottle’s label identifying the distillery. Mezcal also has its own NOM/DOT (denomination of origin) rules as well.

  1. The agave genus contains some 200 species, of which 40 to 50 can be used for mezcal production (per CRM regulations). Each individual species may additionally contain a number of different agave varieties, which are genetically very similar, but not identical. The laws that regulate the production of mezcal, known as NORMA, designate five species of agave that are used for its creation: Agave angustifolia (espadin), A. asperrima (maguey de cerro), A. weberi (maguey de mezcal), A. petatorum (tobala), and A. salmiana (maguey verde o mezcalero) — but it also states that any agave with the proper sugar content that grows within the eight regions of production can be used as well (the eight mezcal producing regions of Mexico: Oaxaca, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, and Michoacan). The dominant species that is used is the A. angustifolia (espadin) species that makes up 90% of mezcal production. It is the genetic parent of the A. tequilana (weber blue) species that is used for tequila.
Some varieties of mezcal agaves.

Adam (Levine that is) has since branched out with his wife, Victoria’s Secret beauty Behati Prinsloo, to launch the pink Calirosa tequila in 2021. Most tequilas are aged in whiskey barrels but this pink tequila is aged in red wine barrels (as opposed to the usual whiskey and bourbon barrel) which gives it a pink colour and a flavour different to other tequilas. Calirosa is made in Jalisco, Mexico by the Real family, producers of tequila since 1942, and then aged in California red wine barrels, hence the name Calirosa (“Cali” being short for California and “rosa” meaning pink in Spanish)

Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 04:  Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sammy Hagar and Emmy Award-winning chef and television personality Guy Fieri pose during the announcement of their partnership with Los Santo and Santo Puro Mezquila, in addition to the launch of Santo Fino Tequila at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Nevada on April 4, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Los Santos: Santo Puro Mezquila)

Before we continue I would like to bring up the travesty that is Vodquila. Red Eye Louie’s Vodquila is a blend of vodka and tequila which was “created” in 2011 by Chander, Nina, and Romie Arora when Arora “needed to come up with a new marketable product.” The name “Red Eye Louie’s Vodquila” came about when the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau rejected their initial proposal of marketing the product under the simple name “Vodquila”, claiming that the family had created an entirely new product category (vodquila) and therefore needed a more specific brand name for their product.

Sorry guys but you haven’t “created” anything but a pre-mix for those who want to get wasted but cant make up their mind about what to drink.

Eh? Three pissheads mixing vodka and tequila have “created an entirely new product category” ???? Dude …..It’s a cocktail (and a fairly boring one at that)

I put Vodquila (or should I say Red Eye Louie’s Vodquila) in the same category as this. Eeek.

The Kardashians are at it again (of course)

818 Tequila, a brand fronted by one of the “reality tv” stars in the Jenner family (1) has been widely lambasted for cultural appropriation. Even though the drink reportedly takes its name from the 818 area code, which covers several cities in California including Agoura Hills, Burbank, Glendale, La Canada, Flintridge and San Fernando (and is in itself another insult) the accusations of appropriation are less about the drink than they are about the way she presented herself in the advertising. Her clothing and hairstyle were “hijacked” from México (2) with her look being described as “chic migrant worker” and typical of the insensitivity of internet “influencers”.

  1. famous for being famous via the Keeping up with the Kardashians tv show. Why anyone would wish to emulate the lives of these people is beyond me.
  2. https://www.newsweek.com/kendall-jenner-818-tequila-brand-explained-backlash-1593196
“for almost 4 years i’ve been on a journey to create the best tasting tequila,” Jenner wrote on social media. (1) “after dozens of blind taste tests, trips to our distillery, entering into world tasting competitions anonymously and WINNING … 3.5 years later i think we’ve done it! this is all we’ve been drinking for the last year and i can’t wait for everyone else to get their hands on this to enjoy it as much as we do!” (sic)

She was also derided for butchering the language further adding to the insult of appropriation. She labelled it blanco tequila (when it really should be termed tequila blanco – its a language structure thing) and shows there was no real understanding (or even research undertaken) when she jumped on the celebrity tequila bandwagon (2).

  1. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2021-02-19/kendall-jenner-tequila-brand-backlash-twitter
  2. this was changed in later incarnations (see the picture above)

Kendall has also been slammed by another Tequila brand, Texas company Tequila 512, after an Instagram query regarding the similarity of 818 to their product.

Both Tequila 512 and Kendall’s 818 have similar large, bold black font that begins bigger at the top of the bottle and shrinks towards the bottom. The names are similar and derived from the same inspiration – with 512 being the Austin, Texas area code where the company is based out of and 818 – the area code where Kendall lives. 512 slammed 818 even further when pointing out that she uses the SAME exact agave farm and distillery they use in Jalisco, México.

In a statement to The Sun, 512’s CEO Nick Matzorkis questioned how it would be “plausible” for Kendall to research and visit other distilleries in the Jalisco region of Mexico to produce her tequila, but not come across a brand which has “been around for 8 years and unanimously won Best in Show at prestigious world spirits competitions. However, the businessman added that they will NOT take legal action against the brand but demand she change the label’s name. Nick said: “Tequila 512 will not be taking legal action against Kendall Jenner or her tequila brand, nor are we looking for an apology. “We are, however, calling on her to change the name of her tequila and/or change the labeling to create a clear distinction. (1)

  1. https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/2938885/kendall-jenner-slammed-818-tequila-copying-818-cultural-appropriation/

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Mana

In 2018, Dwayne’s manager submitted a trademark application for a new Tequila company called Mana, (which in his native Polynesian culture means a supernatural, spiritual life-force essence in human, animals and objects. (It is a much deeper concept than these few words can convey). Johnson filed documents to trademark the name “Mana”, but this was rejected that November for being too similar to other products bearing the name. Its now called Teremana

For instance……..

Sorry Rock. You lose this one (hand over the belt please). It is sort of a shame as mana is certainly culturally appropriate for Señor Piedra (although its links to Tequila are not).

Rocko also is aiming at the health conscious with this tequila by adding a few health claims; low-calorie, zero-sugar, zero-carbs, gluten-free. Pure agave tequila (100 percent agave) is low in sugar. It only has 69 calories per ounce (just shy of 30ml) and no carbohydrates thanks to the fermentation prior to distillation process (1). It is these very carbohydrates (agavins in particular) that are converted into alcohol during fermentation so it is to be expected that there is no sugar in the drink. (Cane) sugar may be legally added (up to 49%) to the distillate and it can still be called tequila. If its called a 100% agave than of course no sugar is added. This is just marketing bullshit. Various medicinal claims have also been made about tequila (2)(3)(4)(5) and the Rock is playing a few word games with his product that are quite similar (6). As an aside…distilled liquor like this will always be gluten free unless some admixture is put in after the distillation process. Gluten free??? FFS. These medicinal claims are bullshit. If you are drinking aguamiel (7) or pulque (8) then they do bear some relevance.

  1. for reference sake beer (depending on the variety) has about 13 calories per floz.
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/why-tequila-should-be-your-drink-of-choice#Is-tequila-really-going-to-benefit-your-health?-
  3. https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/shot-tequila-each-day-might-keep-doctor-away-0154837/
  4. https://www.thedailymeal.com/drink/drinking-tequila-can-help-you-lose-weight
  5. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/tequila-good-for-your-bones-study-center-for-research-and-advanced-studies-in-mexico-osteoporosis-a7721161.html
  6. See Post : Is Tequila Medicinal?
  7. Aguamiel is the fresh “juice” of the agave – which tequila IS NOT made from – See Posts : Medicinal Uses of the Maguey : Nutritional Value of Aguamiel : Agave Syrup. A Healthy Alternative to Sugar?
  8. Fermented aguamiel – which tequila IS NOT made from – See Post : Medicinal Qualities of Pulque
I think you lose this one too Rock.

Nick Jonas – Villa One

US singer-songwriter Nick Jonas (formerly of the Jonas Brothers – now a solo act) and menswear designer John Varvatos have partnered with Stoli Group to launch Villa One, which will compete in the super-premium (1) Tequila niche alongside the likes of Patrón and Casamigos.

  1. “super-premium” is a term that bugs me somewhat. Patrón is a decent tequila but it is by no means “the best” (not even close – but admittedly taste is a subjective sense) and the hype around this tequila (and many other “super-premiums”) is primarily one of advertising. Patrón is quite good at inserting itself into the drinkers consciousness through advertising and they were one of the first (if not the first) to sex things up by using Playboyesque pit-girls to drum up business. Ilana Edelstein in the book “The Patron Way” makes this very claim (that they were the first); as well as making several other quite bold claims regarding the introduction of if not “real” tequila then the first “decent” tequila into the lands of the U.S. of A.

George Clooney – Casamigos 

While we are on the subject of super-premiums and I have just had a bit of a squawk about Patrón lets look at Casamigos.

Clooney founded the Casamigos brand with his friend Rande Gerber, husband to supermodel Cindy Crawford, and property developer Mike Meldman and launched it in 2013. After buying adjacent houses in Mexico, the trio started the company by going on a Tequila odyssey intending to make tequila according to their personal tastes, for their personal use and to create a spirit that was smooth and hangover-free (1). The company was sold in 2017 to the alcohol conglomerate Diageo (2) for around 1 billion dollars (3). Georges slice of that pie amounted to around $233 million (4).

  1. This is kind of the same tactic used by Patrón. It suggests that tequila is normally a cheap, harsh liquid that is good for nothing except getting drunk on and suffering badly for it the next day. It seems that only Americans can tell the difference between good and bad tequila (or that they seem to be the ones capable of deciding what a good tequila is). Denigatory much?
  2. https://www.diageo.com/
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40357768
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2017/06/21/george-clooney-is-expected-to-make-up-to-233-million-from-casamigos-tequila-sale/?sh=602a12ef3ff8

Rita Ora – Próspero

UK raised Albanian singer Rita Ora has moved into the Tequila cashgrab to launch the Próspero label. The tequila is a 100% blue agave tequila which has been crafted by one of the few female master distillers in México, Stella Anguiano, at the Don Roberto Distillery in Jalisco. I am a little confused by this one. Rita is about as far from México as you can get and she has had some issues with cultural appropriation in the past (more specifically blackfishing) which might put her in the “problematic” category but Hollywood can do as they please right?

  1. Blackfishing is a form of cultural appropriation, whereby the person pretends to be black or mixed race

She is championing a female distiller which is commendable. Typically machismo prevents women getting into the distillation business but this is changing. If you want to support a female tequilera then try this one. It happens to be my favourite tequila (so far – I haven’t tried them all yet) and it is always received positively by my Mexican friends who have never tried it before.

Also……

This is an expensive Tequila in Australia. Minimum $100AUS (when its on special) so I don’t get to buy it too often. When it first came in (and was VERY difficult to find) it was $170AUS per bottle.

E-40 – E. Cuarenta

With a name that sounds like a food additive, rapper E-40 (born Earl Stevens) has already launched a range of wines and a ready-made rum-based cocktail. Cuarenta means 40 in Spanish (and is where the word Quarantine comes from – although this has nothing to do with good ole E-40 – I guess imposed isolation is on my mind in these days of the novel corona virus)(1). A particular stupidity (regarding the word corona) occurred early on in during the start of the Corona influenza “pandemic” with the Mexican beer Corona when its sales precipitously dropped because of the name corona (2). Again this has nothing to do with good ole E-40.

  1. The name is from the Venetian policy (first enforced in 1377) of keeping ships from plague-stricken countries waiting off its port for 40 days to assure that no latent cases were aboard – “period a ship suspected of carrying contagious disease is kept in isolation,” from Italian quaranta giorni, literally “space of forty days,” from quaranta “forty,” from Latin quadraginta”forty”
  2. See my Post COVID 2020 : The Coronavirus Chronicles : Mexico and the Coronavirus.

He jumped on the Tequila bandwagon in time for Cinco del Mayo.

According to El 40 the Vallejo (California) born rapper……“I have waited for the right time to launch my tequila. I have spent years and many trips to different distillers in Mexico working with master blenders to find just the right product and Taste profile
I have selected a small Boutique distillery that still uses the Old world process of making Tequila alone with modern facilities for quality and product consistency.”

These stars do like to expound upon their “research” trips don’t they.

Good old E-40 has his fingers in a lot of alcoholic pies.

Slurricane, a ready-to-drink rum cocktail that’s 18% ABV. The name references the chorus of “Hurricane,” a 1995 song by The Click (E-40, sister Suga T, brother D-Shot, cousin B-Legit) and the name is even in the chorus of the song. “Hurricane you can call me Slurricane. Slurricane strong enough to start an engine mayne.”

A honey /malt liquor blend.

East Bay rap star E-40’s latest foray into the world of alcohol comes in the form of a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor (1). It is an appropriate drink selection for a man whose nickname and rap moniker was first given to him based on an ability to drink many 40-ounce malt liquor bottles. E-40 is also often called 40 Water, because he purportedly used to drink 40s like water (2).

  1. To make beer, you usually boil grains such as barley, wheat, and rye to extract the fermentable sugars, and then you add yeast. That gets you a beer with alcohol content that averages between 4.5 and 8 percent. When making malt liquor, however, brewers want the alcohol to be much higher. To achieve that higher level of alcohol, they need to add more sugar (more sugar = more alcohol) so they incorporate adjuncts like corn and even pure white sugar. The result is a beverage with more than 12 percent alcohol, often going as high as 20 percent.
  2. https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/east-bay/e-40-introduces-40-ounce-malt-liquor/64904/
We have a guy like that in Australia. Cricketing legend David Boone who is purportedly said to have consumed 52 cans of beer on a flight from Sydney to London in 1989. He is well known for his ability to swim in beer and not get drowned.

While we’re on the subject of Australia……

AC/DC – Thunderstruck Tequila

Ageing rockers AC DC are surprisingly big in the drinks industry, having released wine, beer, and a bourbon and cola pre-mix in the past. They have now expanded their alcoholic beverage empire.

In 2016 they released silver, reposado and Añejo variants of Thunderstruck Tequila, presumably named after their 1990 hit single.

Thunderstruck is the lead song on the Razors Edge album

The distillery that produces their tequila is located in the town of Tequila, Jalisco. The Fabrica de Tequilas Finos has been in business since 1905. Their handcrafted tequilas are produced in an environmentally friendly state-of-the-art distillery and made from organically produced 100 percent Blue Weber Agave.

Toby Keith – Wild Shot Mezcal

The American country singer opted for mezcal with his foray into the tequila craze. Each bottle comes complete with a small worm, which Keith insists must be ingested.

Keith uses the “green agave” or Agave salmiana. This is one of the largest agaves and in México it is well known in the production of the fermented drink called pulque.

Wild Shot’s slogan is “Blame it on the worm”. Musician Toby Keith has this to say about his mezcal brand: “There is an agave worm in every true bottle. And, the worm is not there for the look, it is there to be eaten. It is believed that the worm will bring a special experience and every individual will feel something different.” (1)

  1. this goes back to the mistaken belief that the worm (actually one of several varieties of moth larvae) is hallucinogenic.

Unfortunately when I think of the “worm” I am drawn back to the 1986 horror movie Poltergeist II. Truly the stuff of childhood nightmares. In this movie one of the stars, Craig T Nelson, consumes a “tequila” worm (which opens its eyes just before he drinks it) with suitably horrific ramifications.

This was probably my first introduction to the drink known as tequila. No favours were done here.

Justin Timberlake – Sauza 901

Justin is a co-owner of Sauza 901 and it appears he too has jumped not only on the celebrity tequila craze but also the one that involves using area codes. 901 is named after the area code of his hometown of Memphis Tennessee.

My love for tequila began a few years ago after I visited the tequila heartland of Jalisco, Mexico, and saw the passion and craftsmanship that goes into every bottle,” Timberlake said in a statement. “That trip inspired me to create 901, and I’m thrilled to partner with Sauza to spread the word about this great tequila.”

It also seems that once a celebrity with some spare cash visits México and has a tequila which is not the typical bottom shelf rot gut they have an epiphany on what tequila can be and then set out to market (or as Justin says “create”) their “own brand”.

P Diddy – DeLeón

The US rapper variously known as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy and Sean Combs bought, in partnership with British drinks multinational Diageo, 50% of the premium Tequila brand DeLeón (1) in 2014. Both parties declined to state how much they paid for the brand. DeLeon, which is certified 100% blue weber agave tequila (which it HAS to be if they want to call it tequila), is produced in the town of Purísima del Rincón in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

  1. created by American former banker Brent Hocking in 2009.

Diddy Then publicly took a few swings at the Patrón label after becoming the co-owner and ambassador for DeLeón. He was once seemingly a big fan of Patrón: He touted the tequila in several songs, including the Notorious B.I.G.’s 2005’s “Nasty Girl.”

Mad women wantin to bone Sean combs
Sippin on Patron
Speeding we be leanin
Got em feeling
And when I give it to you throw it right back (right back)
Tell me Diddy ‘Yeah I like it like that’ (like that)

He also posted a photo of himself on Instagram receiving an engraved bottle of Patrón from the company’s founder John Paul DeJoria. But……… after becoming a partner in DeLeón with liquor giant Diageo (which also co-owns Diddy’s vodka brand Ciroc) he soured on the competition.

In an Instagram post designed to pump DeLeóns popularity was included an image of Diddy holding a shovel (1) above an agave plant with the unsubtle caption, “Let’s have a moment of silence for Mr. Pat Ron. Even though he was a lovely guy . . . HIS TIME IS UP!!!”

  1. this particular comment was made by an Australian news site (https://pagesix.com/2014/11/17/diddy-disses-patron-after-deal-with-rival-tequila-brand/) and goes to show just how little research this organisation put into the article. Young Diddy IS NOT holding a shovel but a working tool of an maguey harvester (jimador) called a coa.
Note the look of disdain on the jimador’s face. (1)

It has also been noted that Diddys behaviour in these photos shows the same level of respect that Kendall Jenner showed to the culture of México. The photos have been called “distasteful” (1) and it was noted…

Those in the Tequila Community who make their living day after day selling, serving and producing tequila, as well as growing and harvesting agave, have been outraged at the clownish way in which Diddy and Diageo have disrespected and belittled the value of one of the last major pillars left in Tequila Culture–the jimador. For Diddy to be allowed to be photographed attempting a jima wearing a suit and spotless shoes was unconscionable. It makes light of the skill and experience of these journeymen laborers, as well their hardships, in a deplorable and condescending way. (1)

  1. http://tequilaaficionado.com/2014/12/01/diddy-disses-tequilas-jimadores/

Carlos Santana – Casa Noble

Santana, who was born in Autlán de Navarro in Jalisco, does have some sort of connection to Tequila, which is more than can be said for many of the celebrities “producing” it. Sanatana became part owner of the Casa Noble brand in 2011. Santana was so taken with the Hermosillo family (who owned Casa Noble), that he not only lent his name to a tequila, he actually became part owner of the company. Santana states: “I like people who have passion for excellence, passion for not doing shortcuts, for not skimping, for not making excuses.”

Michael Jordan – Cincoro Tequila

This tequila, which boasts a name that is a portmanteau (1) of the Spanish words for five and gold, was founded by NBA legend and team owner Michael Jordan. The former pro athlete launched the brand in September 2019 along with four other NBA team owners — Michael Jordan (Charlotte Hornets), Jeanie Buss (Los Angeles Lakers), Wes Edens (Milwaukee Bucks) and Wyc Grousback and Emilia Fazzalari (Boston Celtics). Cincoro’s portfolio boasts four tequila expressions: blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo. Made from two distillates that are mixed together after being slow-cooked and distilled in separate batches, Cincoro’s ultra-premium tequila is made from 100% Blue Weber agave sourced from private farms in the San Miguel el Alto highlands and the El Arenal lowland regions of Jalisco in Mexico.

  1. a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (1920s: blend of motor and hotel) or brunch (late 19th century: blend of breakfast and lunch).
    “podcast is a portmanteau, a made-up word coined from a combination of the words iPod and broadcast”

According to a Forbes interview, Jordan and his four cofounders wanted a better option for sipping tequila than what was already on the shelves (1) so they created their own brand. This is starting to piss me off really. It seems that only Americans (2) know what “good” tequila is. This is where the “gentrification” accusation arises. Us rich, educated, Hollywood type folks can take something those poor brown Mexicans have and do it properly. Most of the brands noted above have made this specific claim. The hypocrisy is that the also nostalgically rely upon the culture of México to elevate their brands.

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2019/09/16/the-inside-story-of-how-michael-jordan-and-four-nba-owners-launched-the-super-premium-tequila-brand-cincoro/?sh=7d475de53aa1
  2. just so we’re clear….Mexicans are “Americans” too you know. The original Americans by the way. Maybe we should consult the experts instead of just ripping them off?

The Tebele Brothers – JAJA Tequila

This brand was founded in 2018 by brothers Maurice Tebele and social media influencer Elliot Tebele, as well as their childhood friend Martin Hoffstein, with the mission of creating a “fun, modern and authentic luxury tequila”.

Now its just getting ridiculous. A fucking “internet influencer”???? This is even more ludicrous that a Jenner releasing a tequila.

According to Martin “Although the tequila market seems saturated, we felt that no brand approaches the market the way that we do. On the shelf today, a lot of the brands follow a similar suit, a similar road to market and, in our opinion, have flat branding. There are a lot of beige, black, and white labels. We wanted to create something that stood out on shelves at bars, restaurants, and retail stores. From a marketing perspective, we utilize pop culture, memes, and influencers to create an experience that resonates with a younger audience. Traditional tequila brands focus on an older white male demographic and we wanted to create something inclusive that resonates with everyone (except old white men I suppose). I believe we are building a lifestyle brand in comparison to traditional spirit companies on the shelves today.” (1). These guys admittedly know nothing about tequila and are more about internet millennial influencer bullshit. ““I was with my brother and friend, and we just were thinking that we love drinking tequila, and obviously with the success of Casamigos, we saw an opportunity to enter the market and kind of do it in a new way. We went to Mexico and ended up staying for 72 hours. We toured five distilleries at first. We basically learned the entire process” (2). They do not pretend to know anything about tequila. They don’t pretend to know anything about México. This is a simple cash grab by internet influencers with already too much money looking to expand their holdings (after seeing Clooneys successes with Casamigos). I’m not sure if this enters into anything culturally appropriative but it certainly is a form of (internet) gentrification. They do not pretend to be anything other than what they are. I am not at all impressed with what they are doing but I’m still deciding whether or not I should be disgusted by their behaviour.

  1. https://forcebrands.com/blog/jaja-tequila-martin-hoffstein-maurice-tebele/
  2. https://coveteur.com/2018/09/04/fuck-jerry-media-founder-launch-tequila/

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul – Dos Hombres Mezcal

Breaking Bad costars Paul and Cranston launched a mezcal in 2019.

According to the Dos Hombres website (1)

We found the best Mezcal we’ve ever tasted.
We started Dos Hombres to create a Mezcal that we thought was perfect. A unique blend of the finest Espadin agave, hand-selected from the hillsides of a small village in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“(2)

  1. https://www.doshombres.com/#
  2. San Luis del Rio.

I’m a little confused here. Did you “find” or “create” this mezcal lads?

The two decided to get into the business of booze after splitting a table of sushi one night in New York. Over dinner, they agreed that they wanted to work together again, though something on-screen was too predictable. Maybe alcohol, Paul thought. He suggested mezcal, to Cranston’s initial confusion, who asked, “The shitty spirit with the dead worm at the bottom of it?” Paul gave Cranston a quick education—whatever Cranston was talking about? Not mezcal. Then both of them got a full crash course on the liquor down in Oaxaca. (1)

  1. https://www.esquire.com/food-drink/drinks/a38641494/aaron-paul-bryan-cranston-interview-dos-hombres-breaking-bad/

Bryan and Paul have noted their awareness of the fact that hey did not want to just be two white guys looking to cherry pick a piece of Mexican culture for their own gain. The community that Gregorio Velasco (the mezcalero who produces Dos Hombres) is very small and the guys wanted to know what they could do to aid the community and the first step was to supply a water filtration system that would more reliable than the mountain spring water they currently relied on.

They have also recently added a (limited edition) Tobala to the range

In 2021 Corona brewer Constellation Brands announced that it had taken a minority stake in Dos Hombres.

Jon Wolfe – Juan Lobo

American born country music star Jon Wolfe created his Juan Lobo tequila brand after touring the United States for years in search of the perfect tequila. “It really started over eight years ago with a nickname. My fans in South Texas affectionately gave me the nickname, Juan Lobo, which is my name in Spanish. 

Juan is on the gentrification bus too. In an interview he noted that he “recognized the need for expertise in the American tequila market and set out to find it” (1). He released this tequila in 2019 so I’m assuming that before 2019 there was no expertise in the American tequila market? In 2020 he released a short film (in time for Cinco de Mayo)(2) about his quest for the perfect tequila. “This short film allows you to immerse into the Juan Lobo Tequila world that we’ve created. Juan Lobo has become somewhat of a persona of mine,” Wolfe adds, “He has traveled the world in search of the perfect tequila, which is what this film encaptures.”(3) Dude? The World? A pretty small World as Tequila really only comes from one place (spread over several States of course).

  1. https://www.eastsideatx.com/juan-lobo-tequila/
  2. which IS NOT Mexican Independence Day
  3. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-recording-artist-jon-wolfe-launches-juan-lobo-tequila-short-film-for-cinco-de-mayo-301052499.html

Chris Noth – Ambhar

(In 2018) Sex and the City actor Chris Noth has acquired a majority stake in ultra-premium Tequila brand Ambhar. American actor Noth will be involved in the company’s “creative direction” and will work with the co-founders on “strategic business decisions”.

Chris was in discussions to sell a $12 Million stake in the tequila but in 2021 final negotiations were dropped after allegations of sexual assault (which he vehemently denies occurred) (1) were levelled at him by three women (2). However no formal complaint was lodged against and no investigation has been initiated.

  1. https://deadline.com/2021/12/chris-noth-police-investigation-sexual-assault-allegations-los-angeles-1234892271/
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/chris-noths-tequila-company-loses-12-million-acquisition-deal-sexual-a-rcna9361

Aside from all of this (which is not really relevant to the theme of this Post) we circle back to the inability of the consumer to determine what constitutes a good tequila (or even how to drink tequila). Regarding the acquisition of the product Chris noted “I’m really excited about the opportunity to help reinvent the perception of tequila and elevate the experience of enjoying this ultra-premium spirit the way it’s supposed to be, one sip at a time.” (1). I also find the Ambhar website problematic. Trying to determine exactly where the tequila is sourced or by who it is produced is not readily found. I had to source this information elsewhere (2).

  1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chris-noth-becomes-majority-stake-owner-of-ultra-premium-ambhar-tequila-300712102.html
  2. Tequila company Hacienda la Capilla, SA de CV : Los Altos region of Jalisco at NOM 1479 – which currently produces 22 different varieties of tequila. https://www.tequilamatchmaker.com/distilleries/173-compania-tequilera-hacienda-la-capilla-s-a-de-c-v

George Straight – Codigo

the country western singer is an investor in the Código 1530 brand of tequila, a relationship born of sipping the spirit during rounds of golf with friends at his vacation property near Los Cabos. After purchasing the tequila by the barrel from a small family-owned distillery in the tiny pueblo of Amatitán in the lowlands of Los Bajos, Strait and his partners decided to just buy the whole operation and work with the family to produce tequila on a larger commercial scale.

He lurved it so much he wrote an advertisement….sorry, sorry….a song about it.

Baby, just like you
It’s something new
I just had to try
I didn’t plan on it
But a sip and you’ll want it
It’s a beautiful high

The perfect recipe
Baby, you and me
The secret’s been found
Let’s pour one right now

I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo
I take it with me everywhere I go
Best tequila, baby, don’t you know
A little sip and you’re ready to roll
They make it down in Mexico
A little state called Jalisco
Where the beautiful agaves grow
I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo

Any way you like it
Any way you wanna try it
I’ll try it too
I don’t care if it’s a habit
As long as you have it
And I have it with you

Hasta la Cruz
I’ll be singing in to you
All the way home
We’ll make this our song

I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo
I take it with me everywhere I go
Best tequila, baby, don’t you know
A little sip and you’re ready to roll
They make it down in Mexico
A little state called Jalisco
Where the beautiful agaves grow
I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo
Go on boy

Straight up or on the rocks
Dressed up or not
Make it a surprise
Throw it back and close your eyes

I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo
I take it with me everywhere I go
Best tequila, baby, don’t you know
A little sip and you’re ready to roll
They make it down in Mexico
A little state called Jalisco
Where the beautiful agaves grow
I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo

I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo
I take it with me everywhere I go
Best tequila, baby, don’t you know
A little rip and you’re ready to roll
They make ’em down in Mexico
A little state called Jalisco
Where the beautiful agaves grow
I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo
Where the beautiful agaves grow
I’m talkin’ ’bout Codigo

Codigo is a bloody nice tequila (and was my fave until I came across La Gritona)

The next tequila is not exactly a celebrity branded tequila but it most certainly had a celebrity boost.

Tequila Avión (NOM 1416, DOT 138) is produced in Jalisco. It has won multiple awards in the 2011 and 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The drink’s parent company was founded by Ken Austin (chairman and founder of the company) and aviation entrepreneur Kenny Dichter in 2009. It was featured in multiple episodes on HBO’s show Entourage throughout seasons 7 and 8 and initially it was believed to be a fictional drink invented for the show.

Ken explained that Tequila Avión had been in the works years before it ever made its television debut. Avión sales didn’t skyrocket immediately following the show because of the belief of the people who thought it was made-for-TV tequila. The tequila made its way on to Entourage because Marquis Jet CEO Kenny Dichter and Tequila Avion partner, grew up with Doug Ellin, the creator of the HBO series. The tequila pays homage to Kenny’s aviation roots. The guys said they “had funds to invest in something different and decided to go to Mexico to create an amazing tequila” (1). ????Again with the “creation”??? You go to México and find an excellent, already being produced, little known outside of its local area tequila and you have “created” a new, better than anything previously seen before product????

  1. https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/entourage-tequila-still-shaking-up-the-premium-spirits-industry

There is a much larger discussion to be had on cultural appropriation and the “gentrification” of food which will be addressed in future Posts.

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