So the tabloids say, “Celebrities; they’re just like us!” as they bag groceries, push strollers, talk to the pool man, etc. We just watched an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap where Jermaine Jackson showed Alex Baldwin’s wife how to call for a servant to pick up a dog poop in his back garden because he couldn’t possibly do it. It might be too germy. Just like us.
And just like us, they enjoy a drink now and then. Of course they can go large, like Diddy with his entourage in the spectacular “Luck be a Lady” Ciroc ad, which features models Eva Marcille, Jessica White, John Legend’s girlfriend (as if this is a professional sobriquet) Chrissy Teigen, Lisa Seiffert, Jerica Lamens, Jing Ma, and actress Dania Ramirez (Entourage); and actors Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Michael K. Williams (The Wire; ” Boardwalk Empire), Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Frank Vincent (The Sopranos) and singer Chris Jones. Sammy Hagar has Cabo Wabo. We think we saw Fergie had a vodka. At one time, The Jersey Shore’s The Situation had a vodka. Now there’s a guy we’d take a cocktail recommendation from, or made under his skilled hand and watchful eye, right?
But lots of times, they’re here, the product is there, and once simply put together, it’s Kismet; the talent does the rest. A few years ago Skyy founder Maurice Kanbar lent his Blue Angel vodka to a Playboy TV show hosted by LMFAO. RedFoo poured Blue Angel into the willing mouths of topless poolside Playmates. Then LMFAO came to us to ask about starting their OWN vodka brand (they didn’t). We once scoured Park City for High West Whiskey, a favorite of Jessica Biel’s (luckily it’s made just down the hill in Salt Lake) for a dinner party. She wasn’t hustling it; she was a huge fan and wanted to drink it and that was as far as it went.
So lots of brands are working to connect with talent. Years ago we took part in a “speed tasting” for Tasting Panel with our Koloa Rum from Kauai’i and “The Kraken” debuted alongside us. We won’t lie: there was a little snicker as we exclaimed, “release the Kraken!” Today, now a part of burgeoning boutique group Proximo Spirits, there’s no snickering. The Kraken has a solid foothold in the market and Maestro Dobel Tequila is first-rate and blowing up, with a new TV ad featuring Perry Farrell and showing up on cocktail menus as diverse as super fancy Claremont bistro Bardot, whose Orange Noir is made with Maestro Dobel, Cointreau Noir, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, mint and cucumber, and mass-market El Torito , where they make a very credible cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro Spicy Pepino Margarita.
We rolled with Dobel to Austin for SXSW where tequila is king. A-List Communications produced a popup of NY-based STK steakhouse deep in BBQ country at a place called Swift’s Attic, who served heaping piles of helpless baby quail to advertising executives before STK took over the menu.
Who was there? A diverse collection of stars for three SXSW movies: THE MEND, starring Josh Lucas, Lucy Owen, Austin Pendleton, Stephen Plunkett and Sting’s daughter Mickey Sumner; BEFORE I DISAPPEAR, starring Emmy Rossum, Paul Wesley, Ron Perlman, Shawn Christensen and Richard Schiff; and Simon Helberg’s (Big Bang Theory) directorial debut WE’LL NEVER HAVE PARIS, starring Helberg, his pregnant wife Jocelyn Towne and cast mates Maggie Grace and Jason Ritter. Josh Lucas, Emmy Rossum, Simon Helberg. Paul Wesley, Mickey Sumner, Lucy Owen, and Maggie Grace all autographed a Dobel bottle for charity.
What did they drink? There were the signature drinks including the Sundance-inspired “Black Diamond Margarita” and the “South By Supper Suite,” and fellow sponsor Blue Moon Brewing Company served their signature wheat beer with a garnish of fresh orange. Dobel had celebrities sign a bottle for charity. But the eye-opener for us was how people order tequila in Texas: “Dressed and Chilled” is chilled with rock salt and lime; dressed and neat is, well, not chilled. Assembled local press people schooled us on this process so we wouldn’t look like rubes. But we put the white in white balance so who knows. Want to make these drinks at home? Go right ahead. Send pictures.
The Dobel Black Diamond Margarita
2 oz. Maestro Dobel Tequila
1 part Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 part Agave Nectar
Combine ingredients, rim with black sea salt and serve in a rocks glass.
The Dobel South by Supper Suite
2 oz. Maestro Dobel Tequila
1 part Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 part Simple Syrup
Muddle basil leaves, combine ingredients, shake. Garnish with cucumber slice.
What did they eat?Talent and regular folks alike noshed on magnificent passed hors d ‘oeuvres, including: goat cheese tart with asparagus and oregano; maple, coffee, and bourbon pork belly skewers; crab bruschetta on artichoke and herb focaccia; whipped lardo (like Elvis, “lardo” (lard) is everywhere) toast with smoked dates and pistachio; beef tartare with taro chip and charred green onion; and marinated mussels with a romanesco (the fractal vegetable!) parsley pistou.
What did they say? Josh Lucas raved about the food and also wanted to fill his STK gift bag flask with Dobel and take it with him; security politely prevented the little “roadie.” Emmy Rossum, a first time visitor to Austin, wore an Andrew Gn dress; despite her affection for the outfit, she remarked “I can’t wait to get out of this dress and into some Texas barbeque!” Emmy didn’t get ‘cue but she DID get specially prepared gluten-free (cf Elvis above) versions of some STK items (steak tartare and crab and spinach on rice chips), and pork belly and lardo is already gluten free. After someone took a photo late in the party with numerous cocktail glasses on the table before her, Rossum joked, “I hope they didn’t think I drank this all myself!”
As the last party drew to a close, Simon Helberg gave a speech thanking STK for the amazing “meat”, and wondered if the dessert might have meat in it, too. Jason Ritter is an STK popup veteran, having visited the Supper Suite at Sundance, but had to leave the party early to go do a segment of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Brandi Glanville from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Inexplicably, the night before we left, we happened to catch this episode. You know what? Brandi Glanville wasn’t nearly as contemptible as we’d been led to believe.
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