By: Haley Bosselman By: Haley Bosselman | April 5, 2022 | Food & Drink Culture
You’ve likely heard your favorite on-screen duo are also in-real-life business partners (and friends!). But how exactly did TV’s most infamous meth producers get into mezcal?
It all started when Aaron Paul made a passing suggestion about getting into the booze business while the two dined at a sushi bar in New York. According to Paul, Cranston nearly spat out his drink. Together they decided if they were going to do this, they would be “passionately involved” in the entire operation.
Read on to find out more about their Dos Hombres journey.
During a virtual Dos Hombres tasting in March, Paul explained that the biggest misconception about their product is the belief that it’s tequila “Every day we get congratulated on our tequila and we’re like well, it’s actually not,” he said, “ So we’ve actually coined the phrase, ‘It’s mezcal.’ We have that phrase. One of our missions is just to educate people on mezcal and what it’s all about… Tequila is steamed, mezcal is smoked in an earthen pit. The reason why you get that smoky flavor is because you chop up your agave, our Espadin agave for example, and you put the pina into this earthen pit and at the bottom of the pit is just very hot stones, that cook the pina, but you cover the agave with dirt so the smoke is not able to escape. And so the smoke just goes back into the agave that's why you get that smoky flavor.”
Cranston’s initial reaction to Paul’s idea wasn’t totally unwarranted. “When I was in high school and college, I used to play poker with my friends,” he later elaborated. “We used to get together and nobody had any money. So we pulled together enough to buy a case of beer and whatever booze was cheap. And it was often that someone bought mezcal, and no one liked this mezcal. It smelled like cleaning fluid and it tasted like cleaning fluid. So it was only used as a punishment.”
Paul got Cranston to warm up to the idea by taking him to a mezcal bar in New York City. Feeling inspired, the two went to Oaxaca to find the perfect partner. They spent days sampling more than 100 different mezcals. On the final day in the village San Luis del Río, they still didn’t find what they were looking for.
Then, on the way back to their car, they got stopped by a kid who took them to an operation they hadn’t visited.
“He just starts chopping this little trail for us. And we're following him through this trail. It looks like a little beautiful rainforest. And a clearing just kind of opens up, and we see this little operation, about 10 minutes into the hike in the middle of nowhere along the river bed. We see these two donkeys pulling giant stone wheels, mashing up freshly smoked agave and it just felt so romantic,” Paul describes. “We sit down and we sample it straight from the source and it was just one of those aha moments. We tasted it, we looked at each other, we didn't say anything.”
See also: Aaron Paul Launches into a Blockbuster Year with Star Turns, Netflix's Breaking Bad Movie and a Bushel of Emotion
Third-generation mezcalero Gregorio Velasco.
During the virtual tasting, attendees were provided coconut-like copitas to sip the Dos Hombres from, similar to what Cranston and Paul sampled mezcal in during their time in Oaxaca.
“I actually typically drink my Dos Hombres on the rocks with a large cube. I like it chilled, that’s my go-to,” Paul said. “It’s sacreligious down in Mexico to shoot mezcal.”
“I love what the Spanish do,” Cranston added. “They say, ‘You never shoot it, you kiss it. Just kiss it, let it touch your lips.’”
After its second year on the market, Dos Hombres became the No. 1 selling mezcal in BevMo! and is currently No. 6 in North America for mezcal sales. “We honestly want to be the No. 1 mezcal in the world,” Cranston said. “That's our goal. It's a dangling carrot and we want to achieve that. It’s something that we feel we can do because we believe in this so much and it’s an awful lot of fun.”
Photography by: Max Barsness; Michael Toolin