You were never meant to have this tequila made by George Clooney and nightlife impresario Rande Gerber. Friends for decades, the two purchased property together in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and built two houses, decked out for when they need to escape—and drink tequila.
“We originally did this just for us,” explains Gerber of the creation of Casamigos Tequila. “We just wanted something we could drink on the rocks all night and serve to friends and family on occasion.” But word got out that the stuff was good, apparently too good not to share.
Gerber and Clooney have long been tequila fans. But, where the average tequila drinker would only be able to dream, these two had the financial means to go out and simply make their own spirit. Gerber already had experience with bars and distilling; he’s the founder of the Gerber Group, a collection of 18 hotel bars and lounges around the United States, and his work with Roberto Serrallés brought the world Caliche rum in 2012. The decision to make Casamigos was quick. The process to devise it was not.
The tequila characteristics these friends wanted were a decided lack of burn, a long smooth finish, and a spirit that was easy to drink well into the night. “We started visiting distilleries,” says Gerber, “and sampling. That process was over five years of sampling and changing and tweaking. The final product never had a label or even a name. We paid them to send it to us in unmarked bottles.”
Soon, people began discussing the elusive A-list secret liquid they’d sipped at parties and private events. “Eventually, the distiller called us and explained that we were going through 1,000 bottles a year,” laughs Gerber. “He told us we either had serious drinking problems or that it was time to be cognizant of the demand.”
Casamigos—which roughly means “house of friends” in Spanish—was taken as the name, honouring the shared land and shared good times they’d known. Southern Wine & Spirits was tasked with bringing it to market in the United States, and Charton-Hobbs is the official distributor in Canada.
Casamigos currently offers three types of tequila, the first being the Reposado, which ages for seven months in oak, resulting in a light cocoa note, cool caramel colouring, and a crisp, smooth finish. They also released the Blanco, thanks to margarita demands from close friends. The Blanco rests two months in oak, and carries a great deal of Mexican highland earth on the sip. The Añejo—rested 14 months—has just arrived on the market as well, and there’s talk of an Extra Añejo coming sometime in the future.
Casamigo’s distillation process is unique. It includes an extra-slow, over-80-hour fermentation. The brand’s marketing, however, is sparse and pointedly light on flavour. “Like I said,” Gerber continues, “we never, ever set out to make a tequila to take to market. For that reason, we haven’t put much emphasis on marketing it. We were firm that we wanted it to remain what it originally was—a spirit we gave out as gifts and poured freely for friends.”
At Prohibition, the new cocktail bar at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver, head bartender Brad Stanton likes to get creative with the spirit. “Chocolate and tequila are absolutely brilliant together,” he says. “Maybe it’s their shared geographical origin that makes them such natural mates? The Blanco is versatile. Watermelon with peppercorn, chestnut bitters, and pomegranate all work well. Simply stirring a good measure of Casamigos with some bitters and a splash of Italian vermouth and maybe finishing with a coffee and lemon oil aroma produce a cocktail that allows the subtleties of the spirit to shine through.”
If that Extra Añejo comes out of the barrel, you can be sure it has been approved by both Clooney and Gerber personally—they continue to be hands-on with Casamigos. While their lives might not mirror your own, they do feel they connect with us all on a drinking level. It’s all about what’s in the glass.