It’s no secret that celebrities will endorse just about anything, from Rachael Ray’s Nutrish Dog Food to Maria Sharapova’s Sugarpova line of candies (including, of course, tennis gum balls). Anything for exposure, right? But over the past decade, there has also been a surge in the number of celebrities putting their names—and money—behind liquor brands.
While many of these companies offer...um...unique spirits (like the protein-infused Devotion Vodka, which for awhile boasted Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino as its spokesman), there are a few that are on the cusp of making it big, like Crystal Head Vodka, founded by actor Dan Aykroyd and Cabo Wabo Tequila, founded by rocker Sammy Hagar.
So check out our list of celebrity-owned and -endorsed spirits. You may be surprised which stars have gone from the big screen to the store shelf.
The NFL Hall of Famer is no stranger to the beverage industry. In the ‘90s, Joe Montana owned a Midwestern beer distributorship, and a few years ago he partnered with Sbragia Family Vineyards to create Montagia Cabernet Sauvignon. And his latest endeavor is Aviation Gin, which he just invested in. It was co-founded by top Portland, Ore., bartender Ryan Magarian.
We couldn’t help but think it was a joke: After years of making us laugh in films like Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers and Spies Like Us, Dan Aykroyd created a vodka brand. But the former Saturday Night Live star is quite serious about Crystal Head, which he founded in 2008. The liquor is filtered through 500-million-year-old quartz crystals with supposed spiritual qualities. We can’t taste the difference, but you might.
Whether you loved or hated the Red Rocker’s time fronting Van Halen, Sammy Hagar is a spirits pioneer. Back in 1996, he started Cabo Wabo Tequila, one of the earliest celebrity liquor brands. It was originally sold only at Hagar’s bar of the same name in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In 2007, Skyy Spirits bought 80 percent of the brand for $80 million. Since then, Hagar has introduced Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, which is made from sugar cane grown in Hawaii.
Justin Timberlake became yet another celebrity singer—but the first former boy-band member—to enter the tequila business when he launched his 901 Silver Tequila in 2009. The name refers to the area code of Memphis, Tenn., Timberlake’s home town.
(Photo courtesy Larry Busaca/Getty Images for 901 Tequila)
George Clooney, Cindy Crawford and a bottle of tequila—what could go wrong? Well, quite a bit, according to a commercial for Casamigos Tequila. No need to worry; the brand was co-founded last winter by Clooney and Crawford’s husband, Rande Gerber, who previously owned the Midnight Oil chain of bars and lounges.
(Photo courtesy Andrew Southam)
Love ZZ Top? This tequila is backed by the band’s frontman, Billy Gibbons. (For you younger folks, he also has a recurring role on the hit Fox show Bones as Angela’s rock-star father.) But he’s not Pura Vida’s only celebrity owner: Sully Erna, lead singer of metal band Godsmack, is also an investor. While the brand’s añejo is matured in former bourbon barrels, the super-premium extra-añejo is aged in used cognac casks.
Inspired by the “free spirit of the islands,” country crooner Kenny Chesney recently started Blue Chair Bay Rum. (Though born in Tennessee, Chesney has a deep love for the Caribbean—he owns a home on St. John, and proceeds from the sales of his most recent album are being donated to the US Virgin Islands National Park.) The brand’s expressions include a classic white rum, a coconut rum and a coconut spiced rum. All three are made at the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados.
What does Grammy-winning singer-songwriter CeeLo Green like to drink? Well, sake, as it turns out. He’s such a big fan that he’s now part-owner of Ty Ku Sake & Spirits. In 2012, Ty Ku was the fastest-growing sake brand in the US, and Green is already starring in the company’s Share On advertising campaign.
Slovenia Vodka has not one, but two celebrity endorsements: actor and comedian Bill Murray and famed choreographer and ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. The vodka is made with buckwheat and water sourced directly from the Slovenian Alps and just launched in select markets around the country.
Mixing your cocktail