It would be so easy to hate Rande Gerber. He has, after all, been married to supermodel Cindy Crawford since 1998 and ran a string of hit bars and restaurants around the world. Now, with his good friend, George Clooney, he has started Casamigos Tequila—and, with Puerto Rican distilling royalty the Serrallés family, Caliche Rum.
But Gerber is surprisingly down-to-earth, and his enthusiasm for his new brands, especially Casamigos, is genuine and contagious. “It’s brought to you by those who drink it,” he jokes. “George and I came up with it when we were building our houses in Cabo.”
That was about five years ago. Gerber and Clooney were frequently in Mexico supervising the construction of their homes, and the pair found themselves enjoying a lot of tequila in bars and hotels. Not only did they get an education in the agave spirit but they also soon began fantasizing about having their own personal stash. And, of course, they wanted the “smoothest, best-tasting tequila.”
They worked with a distiller, who over a year and a half sent them samples that they tried with their friends and families. They knew they had something great when “all of our friends wanted to bring a bottle back,” Gerber says. With the amount of liquor they were drinking and giving away, they realized that “we had to get serious about this.”
At the time, Gerber was still running nightlife company Gerber Group, but after 22 years in the hospitality business, he was beginning to think he might want to start a spirits company. Fortunately, Crawford was more than supportive of his career switch. “She knew it was something we should sell to the public,” Gerber says. One of the key determining factors was that after a night of drinking the reposado on the rocks (their drink of choice), Gerber said that he and his wife weren’t hung over in the morning and felt great. A very important thing, since “her job is looking good,” he says. (Crawford even starred with Gerber, Clooney and Clooney’s then-girlfriend Stacy Keibler in a sexy spoof commercial for the tequila.)
With Crawford onboard, Gerber’s brother Scott bought out his share of the Gerber Group. And now Casamigos, which comes in a blanco and reposado, is available in 45 states, and Caliche Rum is available nationwide. Which left us with just one last question: What’s it like to work with Clooney? “George is great at the creative part of the business,” Gerber says. “We love working together. It’s great to have a challenge.”
We’ll drink to that.
(Photo courtesy Andrew Southam)