While it's not uncommon for a celebrity to lend their fame and influence to a brand to help boost sales, a paid endorsement always comes off a little... insincere.
Pardon our scepticism, but we're not sure if we believe Johnny Rotten from Sex Pistols fame enjoys Country Butter any more than we could envisage bat head-connoisseur Ozzy Osbourne chowing down on I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Yet there they are, in all their cracked and ragged glory, Ozzy baking fairy cakes and Rotten in decidedly uncool tartan pyjamas eating toast and butter.
What's far more believable is when a famous individual not only lends their pretty face to the brand, but also owns it as well. Like how Donald Trump once owned the now-defunct Trump Steaks. You really got the impression he believed in those steaks, right?
Such is the case with the following list of booze brands which aren't only endorsed by celebrities, but owned by them too. There's a surprising mix of famous names (unless NAS has a really weird hit-list, we don't think you'll often find Jay-Z in the same line-up as the brothers from Hanson) with the one common denominator being they all produce terrific pours.
1. Casamigos (George Clooney)
What do you do when you’ve already been named sexiest man alive, conquered the dizzying heights of Hollywood, played Batman (albeit very poorly) and married the world’s most beloved human rights lawyer? Why, you make squillions of dollars on a new brand of tequila, of course.
Casamigos, the fresh-faced (but far from fledgeling) tequila label, launched by George Clooney with a couple of his mates in 2013 is an undeniably delicious tequila, of this there’s little argument. What’s astounding, however, is how quickly it earned them a dollar. Though Clooney proudly put his name to the juice, it was the quality of the product which helped them shoot to the top in terms of sales, to the tune of a US$1 billion-dollar buyout by spirits giant Diageo last year, just four years after launching. Not a bad paycheck (no wonder he hasn’t done a film lately).
2. Armande de Brignac Champagne (Jay-Z)
Owning your own booze brand is generally speaking, above all else, an opportunity to be as ‘extra’ as possible (to borrow a millennial phrase), and nobody likes being extra quite like a multi-millionaire rapper. While many rappers are famous for having their own liquor (or at least their own cocktail – Thug Passions, anybody?), hip hop superstar Jay-Z invested in something extremely over the top: Armande de Brignac champagne.
Known colloquially amongst the great unwashed as “Ace of Spades” for the solitary spade emblazoned across the front label (funny that), this isn’t just an expensive drop, it’s made to look like it’s owned by an obnoxious rich guy, too. With a gold-coated bottle (well, gold plastic), these start in the hundreds for the entry-level Brut NV and move into several thousand dollars a bottle for more premium expressions.
3. MMMHops (The Hanson Brothers)
Okay, okay. You hate that fucking song. Fair enough. But credit where credit’s due, the three effeminate teen brothers from Tulsa may have made switching the radio on in the late 90s a living hell, but they sure know how to brew a damned decent beer (and how puns work).
Now in adulthood, and still touring with their distinct brand of teeny-bopping crowd pleasers (mostly to thirty-something-year-old women), the Aryan trio of songsters released MMMHops a few years ago under the label “Hanson Brothers”, spoofing their breakthrough 1997 hit MMMBop and confusing beer lovers everywhere. How can it be – they said – that these shrill, overly happy pop stars know about how to make delicious beer? Jury’s still out on that one, but the beer itself is delicious, so at least they made something for us fellas, right?
4. Aviation Gin (Ryan Gosling)
Known for its simple but delicate balance of seven botanicals (namely, juniper, lavender, sweet and bitter orange peel, cardamom, coriander, Indian sarsaparilla and anise seed), Aviation Gin, from Portland, Oregon, was quick to make a name for itself as a unique cocktail ingredient when it was first released in 2006. Favoured by bartenders worldwide, it possesses a distinct, spicy flavour and has drawn attention from many, including one very famous fan.
Ryan Reynolds decided it was time to have his own booze company, and acquired a stake from parent company Davos earlier this year. Appearing in promotional films since, it’s hard to say exactly how or why he got involved (short of the fact it’s excellent bloody gin), but the allure of having a hand in your own distillery is surely as attractive to a celebrity as having a celebrity repping your product is to a booze label.