Jose Cuervo reunited the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix last week — in spirit, at least.
The tequila brand launched its special edition “The Rolling Stones Tour Pick” bottle of Reserva de la Familia on Thursday. The release, which I attended, celebrated Jose Cuervo’s relationship with the British rock band during the Stones’ 1972 North American tour. Jose Cuervo brought in two speakers who took part in that ’72 tour: publicist Carol Klefner and photographer Bob Gruen.
Electric Lady Studios hosted the event. Hendrix opened this recording studio in Greenwich Village, NYC, during the summer of 1970. A month later, he unexpectedly passed away.
Thus, there was a meeting in spirits of legendary rockers Thursday night: of those regrettably gone, and those still making music.
There was also plenty of fine spirits being poured. Reserva de la Familia is a premium tequila that does not require a cocktail for enjoyment. Rather, we drank it neat from a flute glass.
Reserva de la Familia is a blend of tequilas aged anywhere from three to 30 years. The recipe is a Cuervo family heirloom, handed down through generations. Only the inner parts of the agave plant, the piñas, are used in making this spirit. It’s a smooth, nuanced extra-añejo, with wonderful herbal and wood notes. At $150 per bottle, Reserva de la Familia is a worth checking out for the discerning tequila drinker.
Guests could sample all they wanted of it as they packed into the basement recording studio. Memorabilia from the ’72 Stones Tour was displayed in Electric Lady Studios, including Klefner’s original tour shirt. She and Gruen eventually took the stage and for an hour swapped stories from their experiences during and around the tour.
“This tour really was like nothing before it,” Klefner recalled with a laugh. “We liked to say that we were a pirate ship on the move with its own airplane.”
The tour included 54 dates over a two month period. In the first week, the Stones sold a million copies of Exile on Main St. The last show was Mick Jagger’s 29th birthday.
“Mick and Keith ended up in jail one night after a fight with an aggressive photographer,” Gruen remembered. “And they were bailed out by the Mayor of Boston. There were riots going on then in Boston, unrelated. And the mayor was worried that the riots would escalate if The Stones missed their tour date in the city because some of them were in jail.”
Jose Cuervo was also along for the tour, as a go-to drink. “There was a lot of tequila on the tour,” Gruen said. “We were drinking a lot of Cuervo, because it was the white line down the middle of the road for tequila. It was synonymous back then for tequila.”
The tour took on a signature cocktail during a stop at The Trident bar in Sausalito, California. The band wanted to try a new drink and the bartender gave them a Tequila Sunrise: orange juice, tequila, and a touch of Grenadine syrup.
“It wouldn’t mix well, so you have the yellow on top of the orange, like a sunset,” Klefner explained. “It was the most beautiful looking drink. It really took off for us.”
The raucous, often-debaucherous tour culminated in a classy final party. At the bar atop the St. Regis hotel in New York, the band drank with the likes of Zsa Zsa Gábor, Woody Allen, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, record executives and other members of high society.
“That’s the kind of party where, had this tequila, the Reserva de la Familia, been invented yet, they’d have really liked it,” Gruen said.