Words by Ashley Pini
This is a story about adventure, passion, friendship and Mexico; it’s about being free-spirited, not playing by the rules and just doing what you love – what makes you happy.
Away from the limelight, George Clooney and Rande Gerber are just two guys looking to kick-back, get away from the hustle and bustle and have a good time with family and friends, enjoying great-tasting tequila and creating lasting memories.
The Academy Award-winning actor turned tequila-maker joins the man behind some of the world’s best restaurants and bars to inspire more of the good times in life “with a smile.”
I guess you could say that Casamigos is now the house of friends all over the world.
Ashley Pini: How did your love of tequila come about?
Rande Gerber: We were spending a lot of time in Mexico, and as you do when you’re in Mexico, we were drinking a lot of tequila. We would go to different bars 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. We wanted the best-tasting, smoothest tequila, one you didn’t have to cover up with salt or lime. We wanted to be able to drink it all night long and not be hungover in the morning. So we started working with a great master distiller to develop the exact profile that we wanted. Two years and 700 bottles of samples later, it was perfect.
AP: What came first; your love of Mexico or your love of tequila?
RG: I have always loved them both the same, but Casamigos makes me love Mexico even more.
AP: Do you spend more time in Mexico now that you have a tequila?
RG: I spend more time in Jalisco, MX where our distillery is located.
AP: Has owning a business in Mexico changed your perception and enjoyment of the country? Is it more work than play?
RG: The Mexican people are hardworking and their passion and love of tequila really comes through in the quality of Casamigos.
AP: Considering an Australian audience, do you have any ‘inside’ advice on what to do and see in Mexico?
RG: There are many parts of Mexico; if you’re a surfer, try Puerto Escondido, Cabo, or Todos Santos. Don’t forget the local cuisine and most importantly, Casamigos.
AP Who came up with the name Casamigos?
RG: George and I came up with the name - Casamigos loosely translates to “house of friends,” which is what it’s all about.
AP: Was reducing your production ever an option when considering the challenge of having to go commercial?
RG: Casamigos is a small batch, ultra-premium tequila made with only the finest, hand-selected 100 per cent blue weber agave. We will never speed up the process in order to reach demand. What’s most important is the quality of what we drink, not the quantity of what we sell.
AP: Starting a business can be stressful, especially with friends. Have there been any disagreements when starting Casamigos?
RG: We made Casamigos strictly for us to drink and share with friends. It was never intended to be a company. Now that we are sharing it with the world, the company has grown. We are fortunate to have become the fastest growing ultra-premium tequila in the country. If we find that we are disagreeing on something, we will usually have a Casamigos…then another… then another, and at the end we have somehow agreed.
AP: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome when creating Casamigos?
RG: It’s a very different business and because we made Casamigos for us, we had to learn the business as we built it. We don’t follow any rules or look at other brands; we do everything in-house and do things our own way. So far it has worked out.
AP: And what level of contact /influence do you have at the distillery?
RG: Nothing goes into a bottle until George and I taste it first. George and I sign off every batch and then the bottles are numbered.
AP: You all wear so many hats and have busy lives. How do you find time to manage all the projects you’re working on and keep a work-life balance?
RG: Casamigos is a big part of our life and lifestyle. It just flows naturally into our everyday life and definitely adds to the good times and great memories.
AP: You’ve mentioned you wanted a tequila you can drink straight or on the rocks. For a lot of people, tequila is best mixed. Do you have a signature serve or suggested way of serving Casamigos mixed?
RG: It mixes well with anything, but we like to drink our Casamigos neat or on the rocks. Casamigos is so refined and smooth; we prefer to sip it all night long. You can hide a lot of bad tequilas with margaritas, but Casamigos actually enhances it.
AP: Out of the whole experience of creating your own tequila, what’s the most memorable for you?
RG: The day we received bottle number 700, George and I drank the entire bottle with a smile. That was just the beginning of what turned into the greatest job of my life.
For more information on Casamigos, visit casamigostequila.com.