‘Brought to you by those who drink it,’ reads the frank, but reassuring, tagline of Casamigos tequila – the corked and bottled product of George Clooney and businessmen Rande Gerber’s decades-long friendship.
Named for the duo’s houses in Mexico, the brand – which loosely translates as ‘House of Friends’ – launched in Britain in 2015 after the pair decided to create the best-tasting, smoothest tequila on the market. And Clooney and Gerber’s judgement can be trusted – for the spirit was conceived during, in their own words, ‘tequila-fuelled nights’.
‘There are so many unforgettable nights that it’s hard to remember them all,’ says Gerber, reminiscing. ‘After 2 years, perfecting Casamigos and 2 years of drinking it with friends, word got out that we had something really special and different than other tequilas. We made a decision to start a company and share it.
‘One night,’ he continues, ‘we were discussing ideas on design, names, marketing, etc. over a bottle, which we finished, and we were a bit buzzed and got a ride back to my house, where George stays when he comes out to the beach. We have a guest house directly on the beach which is where he usually stays but that night he didn’t feel like walking down the steps to it, so I put him in our guest room in the main house.
‘At about 3am my wife Cindy noticed I wasn’t in bed and decided to walk around to see if I fell asleep in the guestroom, which is where I stay when I am out late. She sees who she thinks is me face down with my clothes on and gets into bed, a minute later she realized it was George. They were both confused as George thought he had wandered into the master bedroom and Cindy thought it was me in the guest room since George stays in the beach house.
‘Needless to say, we all laughed about it and that ended up being our first commercial. Drink Casamigos and wake up with Cindy Crawford, or as Cindy likes to say, drink Casamigos and wake up with George Clooney!’
George and I were on a never-ending search for the perfect tequila. There were a few very good ones, but there was always something we wished we could change
Clooney himself speaks incredibly highly of the tequila, and his pride is clear. The actor also has the same answer whenever anybody, from London to Mexico, asks him why he got involved with the venture. The sole reason, the actor says, was that he wanted a fine tequila you didn’t have to cover up with salt or lime.
And that is what they created in Casamigos, small-batch, ultra-premium tequila created from only the very finest hand-selected 100 per cent Blue Weber agaves, grown in the rich red clay and soil and cool climate of Mexico’s Jalisco Highlands for a minimum of seven years.
But why tequila over, say, whisky or cognac?
‘George and I were spending a lot of time in Mexico,’ reveals Gerber. ‘And, as you do when you’re in Mexico, we were drinking a lot of tequila. We would go to different bars and restaurants and bartenders would suggest different tequilas, some really expensive, some not so expensive, some good, some not so good, but we never found one that was perfect for us.
‘At one point George turned to me and said, “we should just make our own, one that’s perfect for us.” Two years and 700 samples later it was perfect. The tequila was made just for us to drink and share with friends. Word quickly got out that we had this really special tequila that people really loved so we decided to start selling it.’
The duo’s tequila comes in three variations: Blanco, which is rested for two months; Reposado, which is rested for 7 months; and Anejo, which is rested for 14 months – all in the finest premium American white oak barrels, carefully conditioned after being used to age the finest premium whisky.
‘Casamigos Blanco is crisp and clear,’ says Gerber, talking through the range, ‘with subtle hints of vanilla and a smooth finish, Casamigos Reposado is smooth and clean with hints of caramel, and Casamigos Añejo is a perfect balance of sweetness from the Blue Weber agaves, layered with barrel oak and subtle hints of spice with a lingering smooth finish.
‘All expressions are great served neat or on the rocks,’ says Clooney, ‘and are the perfect base for premium cocktails.’
We held many blind tastings until we knew we got it right. Now, we’ve been drinking Casamigos with friends and family for over six years
So what are the favoured cocktails of messrs Clooney and Gerber?
‘Whilst George and I prefer Casamigos neat or on the rocks,’ begins the businessman, ‘we also love that it mixes well with everything. A perfect margarita with Casamigos Blanco or a spicy jalapeño cucumber margarita. It mixes so well that Brian Van Flandern, author of Tequila Cocktails, used Casamigos in a collection of unique recipes for the book as well some classic recipes that everyone should know.
‘But it’s best simple,’ continues Gerber, ‘There are big corporations making tequila for the masses. They design fancy bottles or pay celebrities to promote, but consumers understand that Casamigos is different. It is a small batch, ultra-premium tequila, and our entire process takes time, patience and extreme focus to make it the best.
‘Every batch is approved by our master distiller, George and myself before going into the bottle. Casamigos was never intended to be sold to the public and there was no fancy bottles or packaging involved. George and I were sitting in my restaurant, Café Habana in Malibu, before Casamigos had launched to the public and were drinking from one of the plastic sample bottles we had been getting it in for 2 years and thought it is was perfect as is. Lets just make it glass, put a cork in it and name it after our homes in Mexico, which is Casamigos.’
So, if this Cinco de Mayo, you’re looking to dive headlong into the culture and try something a little different – who better to steer you along that path than an award-winning businessman and an Academy Award-winning actor – two of the coolest men sipping the spirit today?