By Audrey Pavia, Portraits by Charlie Gray
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have chemistry.
You don’t have to look hard to see it. As Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, their on-screen chemistry not only resulted in the infamous blue meth, but it also made Breaking Bad one of the most groundbreaking television series ever produced. In real life, the depth of their friendship is readily obvious after spending just a short time around them. And as business partners, their artistic simpatico combined with their disparate taste in spirits somehow led to the creation of a very special product.
In August 2019, Bryan and Aaron released their own mezcal called Dos Hombres. An artisanal spirit made in the traditional Oaxacan way, Dos Hombres has a great story behind it.
C&S: So how did Dos Hombres come about?
Aaron: Bryan and I obviously got to know each other from Breaking Bad, and we had such an incredible experience on that show. We were having dinner in New York. He brought it up. He said, “Is there another project we could do together? Is it too soon post-Breaking Bad?” I said, “Maybe. I think a lot of people are going to just see us as Walt and Jesse for a minute. What if we just go into business together?” He said, “What sort of business?” I said, “What do you think about the booze business?” He kind of laughed. I go, “I’m serious,” and then we started talking about mezcal.
Bryan: When he mentioned mezcal, I hearkened back to my high school days when you could afford a bottle of mezcal. We got the cheapest bottle we could buy because we were poor kids. The smell of the mezcal just was like, “Oh my God.” The taste was like rubbing alcohol. We used it almost like a punishment. When he first mentioned mezcal, I went, “Oh man. I don’t know.” And then he introduced me to the world of good mezcal.
Aaron: The seed was planted, and we just couldn’t stop talking about it. We’re like, “This could be really fun.” It was so foreign to us. We don’t know how to start a company like this. First step was go down to Oaxaca to see if we could find just the perfect juice, explore the lands out there. We were willing to walk away from this sort of idea, this dream, if we didn’t find the right juice.
C&S: Why mezcal?
Aaron: I was introduced to mezcal about five years ago, and I just started replacing my bourbon with it. I started making old-fashions with mezcal instead of rye whiskey or bourbon. For me, it’s just a much cleaner spirit. I end up waking up the next day not feeling trashed.
C&S: Bryan has said he likes to be seduced by a spirit, and you liked to be punched in the face by one. Given this, how did you guys settle on one you both liked?
Aaron: I like to get punched but not necessarily too hard. I also love smooth spirits, and this has a combination of both of those beautiful things.
Bryan: When we first started, we tasted maybe 60 or so mezcals from different palenques [mezcal production houses]. The first thing I would do is bring it to my nose, and if it didn’t attract me in the nose, I wouldn’t even taste it because it has to have everything. We eliminated those that weren’t pleasing to the nose, and then we started tasting. It took a while to find the right one. I think what really impressed me about finding our mezcal—and our maestro, Gregorio—was the fact that this beautiful man was not going to do business with us until we sat down with him and his family, and broke bread, and got to know them. It is against what most American companies do and want. They just want efficiency, a good price point, make the juice go. But he wasn’t having that. We didn’t come in with that attitude, but he insisted that we meet his family. We all just relaxed, and we laughed and smiled, and they put on a great meal for us. It struck me that that’s the way business can work in the optimum sense; you have a relationship. Now we adore this man, we know his family, and we bring presents down to him because we really love him. I thought, “Why can’t all businesses be this way?”
Aaron: They can track it back, I think, at least five generations that this family has been making mezcal. That’s just how far they can track it, so it’s probably even much further than that. Bryan: Gregorio caravans down to the bottling center, and he watches everything. He makes sure that it’s consistent. He’ll take a little taste of it to make sure that it’s right. He is so knowledgeable.
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