Is Ryan Reynolds the Next George Clooney of Booze?
Clooney sold his tequila company, Casamigos, for a reported $1 billion last year. Now, with several other stars launching their own liquor ventures, The Hollywood Reporter breaks down who stands the best chance of success.
In 2017, George Clooney's tequila company, Casamigos, sold for a reported $1 billion, the biggest payday for an A-lister's liquor brand ever. It left many in both the spirits and show businesses wondering how far this convergence will go. According to the U.S. Distilled Spirits Council, domestic liquor sales topped $26 billion for the first time in 2017, with no sign of slowing; that's 2.7 billion bottles of booze. Whether the market can bear another Casamigos-sized sell-off is anyone's guess, though the label has recently branched out into mezcal. "I'm still very involved," says Clooney. "I worked with Rande [Gerber] and Mike [Meldman] on the mezcal for a couple of years before we launched. But in full disclosure we didn't try 700 more samples of the mezcal. More like 100." If Clooney's model is any indication, the stars investing enthusiasm as well as money will stand the best chance of success.
RYAN REYNOLDS' AVIATION GIN
"I kept ordering this same Negroni and I didn't know why it was so good," says Reynolds. "It was because of the gin." In early 2018, the Deadpool star announced that he bought a stake in Aviation Gin, where he now oversees creative direction. "We're at the beginning of what feels like a modern-day gin craze," he adds. "Young people are drinking it. Not toddlers but young people." His business role model? "I'm inspired by George Clooney, Batman and Robin."
DAN AYKROYD'S CRYSTAL HEAD VODKA
"I got into vodka because I realized so many vodkas are misleading the public," says the actor. "I thought vodka had to be pure with nothing added. [But] sugar, oils and additives are added to some of the biggest brands out there." Aykroyd took a hands-on approach to product development, ensuring that his gluten-free vodka was cut only with pristine water from remote Newfoundland. "I connect with the team three to four times a week to go over opportunities and issues in the business, so I am quite involved."
WALTON GOGGINS' MULHOLLAND DISTILLING
"For the first year, it was knocking on bar and restaurant doors, saying, 'I have something I'd like for you to try,' " says Goggins about the gin, vodka and whiskey produced by his distillery and offered at his tasting room, The Mulholland Room, which opened in 2016 in downtown L.A. "I'm very involved in the day-to-day when I'm in town," says the actor, whose business partner is Matthew Alper. "We both have a lot of friends in the industry who were very generous with their support early on. "
BOB PITTMAN'S CASA DRAGONES
Elegant and pricey — a bottle of Joven goes for $285 — Casa Dragones is the brainchild of MTV co-founder Pittman, who worked with Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, the industry's first female "maestra tequilera," or tequila master, to fashion a smooth luxury product. After a decade of success — attracting such investors as Ryan Seacrest — Casa Dragones is in prime position to reel in a blockbuster buyout.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.