I do not get to talk to Mark Wahlberg.
The Dorchester native is among the celebs I request to speak with in the interest of canvassing the world of celebrity tequila for this story, a list also including George Clooney, Kendall Jenner, Eva Longoria, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck.
In advertisements and on social media, these well-known figures are deep into their tequilas. In one ad, for his company Casamigos, Clooney rides a motorcycle through a field of blue agave in Jalisco, Mexico. In social media stories, Jenner can be glimpsed sipping from a bottle of her 818 Tequila through a straw. And on ESPN’s successful “Last Dance” documentary on the Chicago Bulls dynasty, Jordan was reportedly drinking Cincoro, the luxury brand Grousbeck is also a partner for, while being interviewed.
I’m not naïve enough to think I will be granted time with all of the celebrities listed, despite having interviewed some big names like Tom Brady, Mark Cuban, as well as James and Grousbeck, previously. Still, the responses from various PR firms to interview requests for the celebs, as well as the celebrity tequila brands’ founders and other key figures, were surprisingly coy.
“Unfortunately, unless it’s an exclusive Casamigos feature, our co-founder is unavailable to answer questions,” reads one.
From 818, Jenner’s brand, comes the following: “Thank you for your interest in 818. At this time we won’t be able to participate in your story.” Emails to Cincoro (Jordan/Grousbeck) and Lobos (James) go unreturned. A rep from Teremana (The Rock) plays ball for a while and then stops responding.
Luckily for us, though, Wahlberg has Instagram.
When he’s not working out at 4 a.m. or staying #prayedup on Sundays, Wahlberg is relentlessly pushing the tequila brand Flecha Azul, for which he is an investor and partner. In one recent post, Wahlberg, decked out in a Flecha Azul hat, stands in front of a display at a Chicago liquor store and repeats “look at that Flecha” three times before autographing bottles for customers. In another, he’s at the Palms in Las Vegas, holding the Cristalino variety of Flecha Azul, and says, “I keep telling people if you wanna stay lean, you gotta drink the Cristalino. You can get lit and still stay fit.”
It’s effective marketing for any guy who wants to be able to drink and look like Mark Wahlberg, but also for Flecha cofounder Aron Marquez, who tells me of Wahlberg, “He likes our tequila and he believes in the brand, so he is very generous at opening doors for us. He makes new business calls, he joins sales meetings, he discusses marketing campaigns with us – he is very involved in all aspects of the business.”
It’s worth noting that unlike many of the other brands, Flecha Azul’s public relations reps were helpful for this story. Marquez, a Mexican-born entrepreneur who moved to Texas when he was 11, founded Flecha Azul along with Abraham Ancer, a professional golfer. Marquez stresses the brand’s Mexican roots while downplaying the rivalry with other brands. When asked point blank if he thinks his tequila is better than Casamigos or Teremana, Marquez stresses Flecha Azul’s purity and says of drinkers, “It is up to them to make the choice on their favorite.”
(Wahlberg also provides this quote, through PR: “Flecha Azul is additive-free so it can be very easily incorporated into my daily routine. My pro tip – try the Cristalino.”)
There are so many potential favorites in the premium tequila category that the task of ranking them in some comprehensive way seems impractical, and judging by other lists I’ve seen trying to do that, maybe a little dishonest. But I did form strong impressions of several of the brands I tried for the piece. Here’s a rundown of what I found (with affiliated celebrities in parentheses):
Flecha Azul blanco (Mark Wahlberg): Recently named the No. 1 sipping tequila of 2023 by Men’s Journal, Flecha Azul’s blanco is as pure as any tequila I sampled, with no off smells or aftertaste. Even after resting in stainless steel tanks for two months it packs a bit of a burn, but if you’re into distilled agave flavor and nothing else, this one’s for you. (Price varies by vendor, $45.99 at Total Wine)
Casamigos blanco (George Clooney): Casamigos is a go-to brand for me when I’m at a bar. With a stronger vanilla character than Flecha Azul, it sips clean and smooth, with a lingering oaky finish. (Price varies by vendor, $52.99 on Drizly)
Teremana reposado (The Rock): Likes: The light hint of oak, familiar to whiskey lovers but a welcome departure from the strong woody flavors that are dominant in a bourbon. Dislikes: There’s a little chemical aftertaste here, as if you can tell the drink’s been processed somewhere along the way. (Price varies by vendor, $38.99 on Drizly)
21 Seeds cucumber jalapeño infused tequila (Kristin Cavallari, Jojo Fletcher): Started by female founders Kat Hantas, Nicole Hantas-Emanuel, and Sarika Singh, 21 Seeds offers three flavors of infused tequila. Calling their gender “significant” in a male-dominated space, the founders created a drink that can be sipped straight or quickly mixed into cocktails. Add one tbsp. of simple syrup and one tbsp of fresh lime juice to the cucumber jalapeño version for an easy spicy margarita. (Price varies by vendor, $27.99 at Total Wine)
Flecha Azul reposado (Mark Wahlberg): Maybe my favorite on this list, there’s mellow oak flavor here balanced by the natural sweetness of agave. Flecha Azul sells more expensive tequilas, but founder Marquez recommends this one because “it’s unlike any other I’ve tasted.” (Price varies by vendor, $49.99 at Total Wine)
Cabo Wabo blanco (Sammy Hagar): For some reason this tequila is always on sale for $33.99, from $37.99, at my local liquor store. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with it. Easy to sip solo or mix with soda or something else, this one’s fine.
Casa Mexico blanco (Mario Lopez): Easily the hardest tequila to drink for this story, there’s a plastic-y smell and lingering aftertaste that can’t be shaken. I expected more from A.C. Slater. (Price varies by vendor, $34.99 on Drizly)
Casamigos cristalino (George Clooney): Despite Wahlberg’s Instagram pleas, I have yet to try Flecha Azul’s cristalino. But Casamigos makes the style too, and it’s basically an aged tequila that’s been filtered clear. This is a complicated sipper; I get far off smoke on the palate, like there’s a campfire off in the distance somewhere. Really, really good. (Price varies by vendor, $61.99 at Total Wine)