Inside the Big Business of Celebrity Tequilas

In the heady early days at MTV, the drink of choice was tequila, according to network co-founder Bob Pittman. At company celebrations, tradition dictated that employees congregate and drink a shot, flinging the glasses against whatever wall was convenient. This bit of controlled mayhem was a galvanizing force, even if, as Pittman says, “we had to stitch up a few bloodied feet in the process.” Rumbling behind the scenes at rock ‘n’ roll shows, tequila has inspired more than its share of monster jams and postgig revelry. But during the past half-decade, its allure has attracted public figures into brand partnerships and ownership. This ever-expanding group includes rockers Carlos Santana (Casa Noble) and Motley Crue’s Vince Neil (Tres Rios), country star Toby Keith (Wild Shot) and Justin Timberlake (901 Silver). This year, George Clooney and nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber (with real estate developer Mike Meldman) debuted Casamigos, named for Clooney’s and Gerber’s adjacent properties in Cabo San Lucas. In 2009, Pittman launched Casa Dragones, which at $275 a bottle ranks as the category’s priciest. Travel to the Mexican state of Jalisco, and it’s not uncommon to run into celebrity entourages at distilleries. Everyone from Shaquille O’Neal to Sean Combs is rumored to have interest in investing in a tequila brand.

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