Rande Gerber steers Casamigos to new heights of taste and style, especially with the release of Cristalino.
Rande Gerber, the co-founder and chairman of Casamigos
Late at night, when nearly everyone in Rande Gerber’s world is asleep, he’s wide awake, thinking, toiling and creating. “I have a pad of paper in every spot in my house where I hang out, and there are scribbles and sketches everywhere,” says the co-founder of Casamigos. “I’m a design junkie. I love music, art, fashion and architecture.”
Once a week, Gerber says he goes through all his late-night ideas. He dismisses many of them, but there’s always something exciting he pursues and can’t wait to develop, such as the perfect motorcycle boot for Thursday Boot Co. or the Casamigos Seamaster for Omega. He’s even partnered recently with the owners of Hampton Sun, a luxury sunscreen company.
A busy mind is hard to quiet.
“Everything is based on my taste,” says Gerber. “I don’t pretend to know everything about my different businesses, but I know what I love, appreciate and want to share. So I try to surround myself with people as passionate as I am about these different projects and, more importantly, life in general.”
So, it’s not surprising that, 10 years ago, Gerber helped launch a successful tequila brand whose fans are legendary for their allegiance and eagerness to taste new releases. Like many things in Gerber’s life, creating Casamigos wasn’t planned; it emerged from a well of friendship and sharing.
Gerber and George Clooney built homes in Cabo on two adjacent properties and called their compound Casamigos. While building, they drank a lot of tequila, but the tastes weren’t satisfying. “We said, ‘Why don’t we create our own tequila that doesn’t burn and [whose taste had] to be covered up by salt or lime? Let’s create one we can drink straight up or on the rocks and make it our house tequila.’”
It took the neighbors two years to perfect a desirable taste profile. From there, the duo and their network of friends enjoyed their liquid creation. “We got a call from our distillers, and they told us we were bringing in 1,000 bottles a year—we were either selling it or drinking way too much,” Gerber says, laughing. “Either way, they couldn’t keep calling it samples, and we needed to get licensed.”
That prompted the serial entrepreneur to start the company. To keep everything authentic about the Casamigos ethos, Gerber hired a few people who were never in the liquor business. “It was very diff erent from all other tequilas in the market. Aft er all, it’s brought to you by those who drink it,” he says.
Naturally, Gerber designed the company’s first bottle and tasted every batch before bottling. Now that the company sells more than 3 million cases a year, it’s more difficult for him to pull this off, but, as chairman, Gerber is still involved in every aspect of the company. And his relationship with Clooney and the third co-founder, Mike Meldman? “We were friends first and business partners second. We all contribute in our own ways. We’re the perfect trifecta,” he says. “I don’t care how much money you spend on big marketing campaigns or how many social media followers you have. If the product isn’t great, people won’t drink it.”
The hits keep coming. Gerber and his team unveiled Casamigos Cristalino this summer, craft ed from 100% blue Weber agave. “As with our tequila and mezcal, we wanted to create a cristalino that we wanted to drink,” says Gerber. “Most cristalinos are añejo-based; ours is reposado-based. We chose to do reposado for the taste.”
I ask Gerber if he ever thinks about how his brand’s devotees enjoy his creation. Again, the designer and aesthete in him emerge, and Gerber imagines the setting and what people are wearing. To him, Casamigos embodies a lifestyle. “The one common thing in my mind is that [everyone is] laughing and having fun with family and friends—lots of memories made and relationships started,” he says.
Gerber recalls an old conversation. “The best advice I was given was from my dad, who said you have to live while you’re alive, so make sure whatever you do in life, enjoy it,” he says. “Look for a job you enjoy, and ask yourself if you would take it if you didn’t need a job.”
It’s a lesson Gerber still holds dear, especially during his midnight brainstorming when ideas emerge from the ether to enhance his life and the lives of others—the best possible gig.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF CASAMIGOS