By Rosie Bell, Fodors
For many years tequila has been a man’s game. Increasingly, it’s narrowing further to a non-Mexican celebrity’s enterprise. A-listers are converting their cult followings into tequila drinkers and causing ripple effects in the industry, which is now said to be worth US$10.8-billion-a-year.
These days you can sip on stylish agave drinks from the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Elon Musk, P. Diddy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Justin Timberlake, Nick Jonas, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan and Chris Noth (also known as “Mr. Big” from Sex and the City). Just a handful of women are on the celebrity tequila guest list including Canadian actress Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars fame, sometimes-singer Rita Ora, and Kendall Jenner (who surely needs no introduction). More and more famous faces are cashing in on this protected centuries-old tradition, but what’s driving the boom, and what do Mexican women, who are traditionally sidelined in the industry, make of it?
What’s Behind the Gold Rush”
One brand is largely credited with triggering the celebrity tequila influx: Casamigos. Hollywood megastar George Clooney “accidentally” founded the drinks company with property tycoon Mike Meldman and Rande Gerber (his long-time friend and the husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford) in 2013. Just four years later, it was sold to drinks conglomerate Diageo for a whopping $1 billion, proving that there was serious money to be made from agave. The U.S. is now so head over heels for the legendary spirit that sales of full-proof tequila soared by almost 200 percent since 2002 according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). In 2020, Mexico produced 60 million gallons of this liquid gold, which is 800 percent more than it did two decades ago.
George Clooney’s star quality might have certainly helped attract the glitterati. However, the female master distiller of Mexico’s top ultra-premium tequila cites the heightened focus on actual product quality from distillers for the drink’s rising popularity. Clase Azul is the Chanel of tequila brands and Viridiana Tinoco is the master distiller for all its products. “The tequila industry has changed and the work that is being put in behind the scenes to make the products incredible is part of the reason it’s growing exponentially,” she remarks. Gone are the days when you would take shots of unpalatable tequila just to get drunk. “Now you want to sip the tequila neat and simply enjoy it,” she adds.
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