Celebrities who launch alcohol brands make it look fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
If the beverage in question is built on the reputations of the stars involved, they have to get out there and promote. They must smile, sometimes for hours at a time.
That’s what “Breaking Bad” stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have been doing as they promote their Dos Hombres mezcal brand across the country. (Their mezcal, made from distilled agave, comes from San Luis del Rio in Oaxaca, Mexico.)
Their tour stopped in Boston on Sunday, with a packed itinerary that included Market Basket in Waltham, Total Wine & More in Dorchester, Bostonia Public House near Faneuil Hall, Time Out Market Boston, the View Boston in the Prudential Center, and Grace by Nia and the Envoy Hotel in the Seaport.
The Globe caught up with Cranston and Paul mid-afternoon in the Time Out parking lot, just before they went inside to bartend for a crowd. They said that since they launched the Dos Hombres brand in 2019, they’ve discovered the beverage business can ask a lot of you.
Luckily, they like the work.
Whenever [famous people] launch an alcohol brand, it becomes clear to me that after a while, it’s a ton of labor, and they have to learn all about the industry. How have your roles in your company changed since you launched? How has your knowledge changed?
Aaron Paul: What’s interesting with us is we started from the ground up. We grew it from its infancy. We’re proud of the fact that we’ve hired every one of our employees personally. But yeah, you’re right, I mean, we didn’t know really what we were doing. We didn’t have anybody guiding the ship. We were guiding the ship . . .
Bryan Cranston: The Ship of Fools [laughing]. What we realized going into a business we weren’t familiar with at all . . . that’s what we do. Every time that we take on a new character, we really don’t know who that guy is going to be. So we had to start learning. We’re really good at not knowing — putting our hands up and going, “I don’t know, let me be a dry sponge to this. Let me soak it in.” We’ve been down to Oaxaca, San Luis del Rio, in the little town where we make this, and we just ask tons of questions. I think we’ve still only just scratched the surface, but I feel a lot more confident being able to talk about it.
Do you prefer the vibes of a Market Basket to a bar? What feels like the comfort zone for promotional visits?
AP: I like it all. I mean, it is a grind, but I love getting the boots on the ground and doing the work. It’s important to us to get in front of people and tell people our story and how and why this came to be.
BC: We go to off-premise and on-premise sites. An on-premise counts as a bar or restaurant, off-premise is a Market Basket or liquor stores. We go to both. Then, at the end of the day, this is my favorite part, we go back to our hotel or we go to a quiet bar. We sit down and we just downshift. We call it the “final, final.”
I’m going to guess there are a lot of “Breaking Bad” fans waiting for you inside. With a company like this, is the goal to transcend fandom and reach people who might buy this without knowing who you are? Or are the fans welcome as the main consumer base?
BC: We don’t just assume anybody knows who we are. They don’t have to be fans of ours — but they could become fans of this spirit. Mezcal is still a very mysterious entity . . . to a lot of Americans.
I had to Google it. [For those who don’t know, tequila has to be made from a specific kind of agave, mezcal can be made from a range of agave.]
AP: This is one of the exact reasons we had to lean into this space. There was an opportunity. Plus, it’s my favorite spirit. It’s a win-win.
BC: When we went down to Oaxaca, I didn’t actually think we were going to find the perfect, one juice. Because he [Paul] has a different palette than I do. I have very sophisticated tastes.
BC: His is more bohemian — kind of brown paper bag.
AP: He’s such an [expletive]. We both agreed, because this was all self-funded — we haven’t made a single dime off of this — we needed to find something that we both really loved. We made an agreement and we found it.
BC: He loves a very strong Scotch type of thing, and I don’t I don’t want a grimace when I sip my spirit. I want to be invited in.
AP: I like to taste my spirits. At the end of all of our tastings — we were down there for like eight days, sampled like 100 different mezcals all over Oaxaca — we kind of started going toward the middle. We met in the middle and we found it. It’s beautiful.
This event is something you can do during the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. Is there anything you want to say about what’s happening in that part of your world?
BC: It’s a little bit of a ding when they don’t want to meet with you, so that’s an ouch. But when they agree to meet again, then you always have hope. Because if you’re sitting down at the same table, there’s always a chance of reconciliation. Whether it’s a family squabble or business, you have to be able to look at each other and lay your cards out on the table. We both want a resolution to this. If that’s truly the goal, then they’ll find it.
This interview has been edited and condensed. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.