Rande Gerber, who founded the Gerber Group, spends a lot of time thinking about what a hotel bar means in the 21st century. As he launches Casamigos Tequila with his best friend George Clooney, the nightlife entrepreneur opens up about the origins of his new spirit and lists his top spots around the world to enjoy it—on the rocks.
Why did you and George Clooney choose tequila?
George and I were spending a lot of time in Mexico, and of course drinking a lot of tequila while there. After trying different brands recommended to us by bartenders in Mexico, we decided that although there are some pretty good ones out there, there wasn’t the perfect one for us. Casamigos was a house tequila made just for us to be shared with family and friends, it was never intended to be sold to the public. It took time, money, and patience to make it perfect. We wanted to produce the best tasting, smoothest tequila that didn’t have to be covered up with salt or a lime. So we did.
You and Clooney built side-by-side villas in Los Cabos, Mexico. While your houses were being built, what were some of your favourite hotels to stay in?
Cabo is convenient from Los Angeles and has beautiful weather. Las Ventanas and the One&Only Palmilla are pretty close to our homes and have great properties with friendly staff. You want to feel comfortable and relaxed when you travel and this is the exact sentiment we found when we stayed there.
What are the most important qualities of a hotel bar?
The key elements to any bar, lounge, or restaurant are lighting, music, and welcoming staff. Of course, amazing food and drink doesn’t hurt. As you might suspect, we go to places that serve Casamigos. When we want to be sure a hotel has enough Casamigos, we load a plane with 100 cases, like we did this fall on our way to Hotel Cipriani in Venice.
How have your travels influenced Casamigos?
Most restaurants and bars highlight signature cocktails on their menus. We made sure to work with the best mixologists around the world to create outstanding recipes for our own signature drinks such as our Bloody Amigos and Mexican Hot Chocolate, which are great for Canadian winters. We know not everyone likes to drink tequila on the rocks, the way we prefer it.
What would you say are the most successful hotel bars around the globe?
Stone Rose Lounge at the Time Warner Center in New York has a great crowd and views of Central Park. Soho House in Toronto is very cool and the bartenders know how to make a drink. Café Habana in Malibu has the local laid back surf vibe and is always fun, and lastly, the Bar at The Dorchester in London.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photo: Andrew Southam.