Review: Can Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul’s Dos Hombres Shine a Brighter Light on Mezcal?
A chat and a copita with the duo who mercifully opted not to start yet another celebrity tequila brand
What we’re drinking: Dos Hombres Joven Mezcal, an espadin mezcal
Where it’s from: You may have heard of Breaking Bad actors Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, good friends who started Dos Hombres in 2019. Constellation Brands acquired a minority stake in the brand last July.
Why we’re drinking this: A few reasons, mainly that 1) we’re still waiting for a mezcal brand to truly launch into the mainstream and bring the category up along with it, and 2) we were curious (and cautious) about celebrities being involved with what has very quickly become a top-10-selling mezcal in North America.
“Three years after the finale of Breaking Bad, we were at a sushi bar, and we wondered if it was too soon to work together again,” as Paul told a small media group during a Zoom tasting this week. “We thought it was too soon for sharing the screen again, but I asked, what if we got into a different sort of business? What about booze? And he thought I was doing a bit.”
To Cranston’s credit, the actor overcame his reluctance about the category — much like many people, his first exposure to mezcal had been rather bad and at too young of an age — and joined his friend first at a mezcal bar to learn more about the category, but also on an exploratory trip to Oaxaca to try out nearly 100 different mezcal expressions, often in tiny villages and in some places that lacked electricity.
One of those villages was San Luis del Rio, where the duo (or ahem, the dos hombres) met up with third-generation Mezcal maker Gregorio Velasco, who was already crafting a mezcal artesanal that Cranston and Paul fell in love with. A relationship was formed, and Dos Hombres debuted a few years back, just before COVID hit.
And also credit to the actors, who during their 45-minute discussion mentioned several initiatives that they’ve either completed or are helping to work with that involve both the distillery and the town around it — everything from installing a new water filtration system for the village to replanting agaves to giving part ownership of their company to Velasco. Paul even offered up a nice explainer on the tobala agave, a rare and wild plant that’s harvested for a very limited edition of Dos Hombres (that we weren’t able to try yet).
“We’ve learned so much over the past 5-6 years, but we have a long way to go,” admits Cranston. We’re fortunate that we don’t have to do this, but we want to do this. We have no sense of entitlement … but we also know we have an advantage that we bring to this product, but it has to be something of quality or it won’t last.”
All good. But can Dos Hombres bring forward a category that’s growing exponentially but also still only accounts for a fraction of the booze industry here in the U.S.? (A 2020 Drizly report noted that mezcal sales had grown 600 percent for the site in one year… but still only represented about one percent of their total revenue.)
How it tastes: Grassy and lemony on the nose, the smoke makes more of an appearance on the palate, along with citrus (particuarly orange) and white pepper. Not overly vegetal or a smoke bomb, this is a well-balanced mezcal that can definitely entice newcomers. It’s a solid sipper that actually shines in cocktails.
Fun fact: When we asked about the biggest misperception of mezcal here in the U.S., Paul had a very quick answer. “That’s easy; everyday we get congratulated on making tequila. It’s not tequila! We even coined the phrase ‘It’s mezcal’ … we want to educate people about this category.”
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