What do Zsa Zsa Gabor, Matthew McConaughey, and the Rock have in common, aside from the fact that each is a perfect answer in the “celebrity dinner guest” debate? All three, to various extents, have shilled for booze.
Alcohol endorsement deals are a lucrative side hustle for celebrities, who grace commercials, magazine advertisements, and Instagram posts in the name of a paycheck and a stiff drink. Texas stars have gripped the bottle with both hands, partnering with distilleries, taking on creative director duties, and even creating brands from the ground up. (None, perhaps, has gone so far as George Strait, who has a single and a music video centered on the stuff.)
While many of us remain on hiatus from visiting our favorite bartenders in person, why not let a beloved celebrity Texan help stock your bar? Whether you want to feel like McConaughey himself is pouring you a drink or pretend you’re at a pool party with Travis Scott, this list of celebrity-backed spirits has something to offer. We even spoke with a few stars about how they got involved in the business—and, just in case you needed a reminder to drink your tequila while listening to ZZ Top at eardrum-shattering levels, we also included each celebrity’s ideal drink pairings.
ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons
Bottle: Pura Vida Tequila and Luckenbach Road Whiskey
“We call [our friendship] ‘elegance in a bottle,’” says Billy Gibbons, lead vocalist and guitarist of ZZ Top, of his relationship with Pura Vida Tequila founder Stewart Skloss. The pair have been close for two decades, but it wasn’t until 2015 that Gibbons became a top investor in the Houston brand.
“[Skloss] said, ‘You and I are going to get in the tequila business,’ and I kind of chuckled. I said, ‘Stewart, I turned my back on tequila when I was in my twenties because it turned its back on me.’” Then he tasted the drink. “This isn’t the tequila I remember from dragging up out of the dirt,” he recalls saying. (Pura Vida’s triple distillation process probably has something to do with that.)
In 2022, Gibbons and Skloss will conquer another corner of the bar with Luckenbach Road Whiskey, a spirit born from the pair’s new Hill Country distillery. The property also will contain a barbecue restaurant, luxury hotel, and Gibbons’s state-of-the-art recording studio, where guest musicians can book a session. ZZ Top superfans, get your livers ready.
Pair it with: “The fast and loud catalog of ZZ Top songs all qualify,” says Gibbons. “Fast because we want to get back to pouring another, and loud because we can take the message of Pura Vida’s excellence everywhere. It’s that good.”
Bottle: Wild Turkey Longbranch bourbon
Roles: Cocreator, Longbranch; creative director, Wild Turkey
Matthew McConaughey has been involved with Wild Turkey since 2016, and he’s brought a certain McConaughey-ness—there’s no other word for it—to the brand.
McConaughey met the Russells, the father and son master distillers behind the brand, on his first trip to the Lawrenceburg, Kentucky distillery. “Since the day I met the Russell family, I knew that the culmination of our partnership would be a bourbon that bore my name,” McConaughey says.
He spent two years working with distiller Eddie Russell to create Longbranch, a rare small-batch Kentucky straight bourbon refined with Texas mesquite. “We tinkered with more than thirty samples until I found the right juice,” McConaughey says. The result, which launched in 2018, has been a hit with bourbon drinkers and the man himself. “I can proudly say that Longbranch is my favorite bourbon on the planet,” he says.
“Bourbon is a patient man’s game,” he adds. “You’ve got to wait many years for the juice you put down to age properly in that Kentucky climate. Our Longbranch is an eight-year-old Kentucky straight, so the juice I’ll be drinking this year was laid down in the warehouse back in 2013. That really makes you think about time and the old notion that some things are worth the wait.”
Pair it with: McConaughey has starred in more than forty feature films, but we can’t help but raise our glass of Longbranch to one of his aughts-era rom-coms, particularly How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Romance and bourbon are best served neat.
Bottle: Juan Lobo Tequila
Role: Founder and owner
According to Austin-based country music star Jon Wolfe, Juan Lobo started with a nickname. “My fans in South Texas affectionately gave me the nickname Juan Lobo, which is my name in Spanish,” he says. “I always thought it would be a great name for a brand of some kind someday, but I didn’t perceive it to be a tequila brand.”
In honor of the affectionate moniker, Wolfe decided to go in search of a perfect tequila that paid homage to Mexican traditions. “Over the years, I became passionate about 100 percent blue agave sipping tequilas,” he says. “For me, it started with trips to Guadalajara, Arandas, and Tequila, learning a lot about the process, the distilleries, and the industry.”
Though Wolfe has hired industry experts to spearhead facets of the business such as importing, customs, and distribution, he plays an active role in branding and marketing strategy. I love the authenticity of the tequila and how our consumers are enjoying the tequila out of the merits of the tequila itself,” he says, “and not necessarily because of my involvement in the brand.”
Pair it with: Wolfe recommends slowly sipping your reposado to “Play Me Something I Can Drink To,” “Some Ol’ Bar in the 90s,” and “Boots on a Dance Floor.” He also teases that a new album is on the way with the “ultimate tequila drinking song.”
Bottle: Cacti Agave Spiked Seltzer
Releasing his own spiked seltzer is among a long list of achievements for rapper, producer, and songwriter Travis Scott over the years—or even just in 2020, a year during which he served as the face for a McDonald’s meal and collaborated on a candle with the scent of “outer space.” Scott, a big tequila fan, worked with Anheuser-Busch to develop a tequila-spiked seltzer brand that launches this spring.
Cacti will have a 7 percent ABV and will be available in three flavors: lime, pineapple, and strawberry. The drink is brewed in Los Angeles with blue agave from Mexico, but since Scott’s a Houston native, we’re claiming it for Texas. The drinks will be available in twelve-ounce cans sold in a nine-count variety pack as well as sixteen- and twenty-five-ounce singles in lime and pineapple.
Pair it with: Both Cacti and Scott’s fourth album, Utopia, are as yet unreleased, and we can only hope they go together as well as atmospheric vapor and dark nebulae—two fragrance notes of the aforementioned infamous candle.
Bottle: Código 1530 tequila
If you’re a George Strait fan, chances are you’ve already seen the agave fields, distillery, and barrels where Código 1530 tequila is made, because the singer used it all in the backdrop of the music video for his half country single, half commercial jingle of the same name. The country music legend invested in Código 1530 more than three years ago, and promptly wrote a song about the brand, which he released as the first single off his album Honky Tonk Time Machine.
At first, Strait and his partners purchased the tequila by the barrel from a small family-owned distillery in Amatitán in the lowlands of Los Bajos, Mexico. Eventually, they decided to buy the entire operation outright and work with the family to produce tequila on a grander scale. Código features five expressions of tequila: blanco, reposado, rosa, añejo, and origen.
Pair it with: The eponymous song, since it’s the “Best tequila, baby, don’t you know / A little sip and you’re ready to roll.”