Drinking in Celebrities

Katherine Jenkins Cygnet Gin
Katherine Jenkins Cygnet 22 Gin - Photo credit: Cygnet Distillery

Who do you want to eat with tonight? Jackie Chan or Brad Pitt? Who would you like to share drink with a little later? The Rock, Kylie or G-Dragon?

Fame might be ephemeral but wine and spirits last longer. But surely there can be only so many times you can bring Graham Norton – in Sauvignon Blanc form – to the party? And ask your hosts if it’s OK or not to bring Ryan Reynolds too. And treat everyone to a Masectomy. His signature cocktail.

There are some occasions and circumstances where Gerard Depardieu might not be accepted, or Sir Cliff Richard approved of? And it may prove a bad mistake to turn up with an uninvited Jay 2’s D’Usse Cognac.

We have entered the “I’ll have whatever Andrea Bocelli is drinking” age. Which, in his case, is a very good 2005 Terre di Sandro Sangiovese from his family vineyards at Lajatuco in Tuscany. The tasting notes include “a long and melodious finish”.

And we are creeping ever closer to waiters and sommeliers saying:

“May I recommend a Korean rapper to start with. Or if soju is not to your liking, perhaps you may prefer a Dan Ackroyd, some Sting or a little Drew Barrymore followed by a rather good Sam Neill Two Paddocks from Otago for the main. With some of that nice George Clooney with the cheese. And perhaps a palate-cleansing Jon Bon Jovi. With his acclaimed Hampton Water. And, if you have room, how about a Snoop Dogg nightcap? Or even the latest cage fighter digestif?”

Sommeliers have become awful name-droppers.

Which celebrity hasn’t got his or her own tipple?

Kylie Minogue has attached her name to everything from lingerie to furniture. Cricketer Sir Ian Botham has advertised the joys of footbaths and Weetabix. Now both have gone into wine. As have the Delevingne sisters, Sarah Jessica-Parker (Invivo), Cameron Diaz (Avaline clean wine), Graham Norton, Gary Barlow and just about everyone. Including Gordon Ramsay, who has a wine as well as a gin to his name.

Kendall Jenner has 808 Tequila, Robert De Niro VDKA 6100, Marilyn Manson Mansinthe, Justin Timberlake Sausa 901 Tequila, Ryan Reynolds Aviation Gin. Mark Wahlberg has a tequila, Matthew McGonaughy and Jamie Foxx bourbons, Bruno Mars SelvaRey rum, Steven Soderbergh Singari 63, Kate Hudson King Street Vodka and Bob Dylan’s excellent Heaven’s Door.

Even Elton Musk has Tesla Tequila.

And even porn star Ron Jeremy had his own run. Before the rape conviction.

Loads of American sporting legends have all got into the act too.

As well as rock bands and stars like Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, Kiss and now the Rolling Stones.

Sir Mick and the boys have just announced the launch of their rum, Crossfire Hurricane inspired by the opening lyric of the band’s song, Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

The band said that their interest in rum was first sparked in the 1970s, when they recorded an album in Kingston, Jamaica. The blended expression includes a rum aged for up to five years in charred oak barrels.

James May Gin
James May Gin – Photo credit: James May Gin Company

The best new boy on the block is perhaps Top Gear’s James May’s Fab Four – Asian Parsnip Gin original and Navy Strength, American Mustard and London Drizzle.

Peter Mitchell MW, Wine Director of London’s Jeroboam’s says:

“In my experience, many celebrity wines have been affordable and perfectly drinkable, if nothing special.

“For some customers, celebrity gives them some reassurance and also something they want to identify with. But they are rarely wines with a sense of place or excitement. They certainly have a place, but it is most likely to be on supermarket shelves rather than specialists or in the on-trade. There are exceptions – wine estates of genuine merit that happen to be owned by a celebrity like Francis Coppola’s Inglenook in California which he’s owned since the 70s.”

Of course, Gen Z and its aspiring socio-economic sub-classes are the main targets of this tribal wine and spirits appeal. Says Anne Martin, Global Marketing Director at Havana Club about the thinking behind its current collaboration with UK rap star, Ms Banks:

“We launched Havana Club Cuban Spiced as a product to appeal to a growing audience of spiced drinks fans. This new product is all about flavour, fun and creativity which is why we’ve partnered with Ms Banks to celebrate emerging talent across a variety of industries. Ms Banks is the embodiment of the attitude and energy Havana Club Cuban Spiced stands for and she will be at the heart of our campaign. We’re thrilled to be giving a platform to emerging voices in creative spaces and hope it will inspire others to share their #SpicedVibes.”

It’s the digital Bradolina Branding Effect. The famously divorced Hollywood couple launched Miraval. Dom Perignon joined up with rock star, Lenny Kravitz. Jeroboam stocks John Malkovich Les Quelles de la Costa from his Vaucluse estate. He has a Cabernet Sauvignon rosé and a briary, brambly Pinot Noir that should be on restaurant lists. Lesser known, perhaps less talented actors are connected to C-list products whose drinking windows are longer than their acting careers.

Mitchell adds:

“I wouldn’t say the wines are sold as John Malkovich wines. Nor are they branded in any way. Miravel and Della Vite Prosecco do not make anything of the ownership. They are standing alone on their quality.”

Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins Cygnet Gin 22 was created in 2022, using 22 botanicals. Jenkins was 22 years old when she was offered the largest recording deal in classical music history.

In collaboration with her husband Andrew Levitas, the artist and social-impact filmmaker and Eric Villency, who designed products such as Peloton and Rock Star Energy drinks, she designed the reusable glass bottles, brand logos and selected the botanicals for Cygnet 22.

“My ultra-premium gin contains a whole lot of ‘Hwyl!’ – an ecstatic feeling of inspiration unique to Wales. As well as Manuka honey.”

Emma Watson’s Renais Gin – Photo credit: Renais

Emma Watson has launched her “Renais” gin and Ricky Gervais has invested in Yorkshire’s Ellers Farm Distillery, makers of Dutch Barn spirits.

Who next?

Now “completely on point culturally” drink brands are turning to the fashion world for marketing inspiration.

Bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has launched a collection with British design studio Phoebe English. Using its “Stay True” motto, Ballantine’s has collaborated with Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA on a capsule collection with Japanese streetwear brand Neighbourhood. Speyside single malt Scotch whisky distillery Glenfiddich has teamed up with British designer Priya Ahluwalia on a fashion collaboration for bartenders, taking inspiration from her Indian-Nigerian roots. Irish whiskey brand Jameson and organic whisky producer Waterford Distillery have announced a new fashion collaboration with London-based menswear brand Lestrange, launching an overshirt and trousers designed with nods to the whisky-making process.

There’s nothing novel about celebrity endorsement, actor, director and writer Orson Welles lent his name to everything from Sherry to Carlsberg lager. The Victorian “celebrity” Lillie Langtry has own Californian wine estate in 1888. Billed as “the first vodka-fashion collaboration ever.” Chopin claims fashion mogul hand-selected the specific variety of Polish potato.

It is the way of the world. Idris Elba, who has his own Porte Noire Champagne, has nearly five million Instagram followers. Boxer Conor McGregor has a lot less. But that hasn’t stopped him bringing out his “Proper No Twelve Irish whiskey”.

John Terry has also curated a wine selection.

Author Bio:

Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appear worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.

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