Booze

Nick Jonas & John Varvatos Talk Tequila

After collaborating on a campaign, a cologne and designing clothes together—where else is there to go but booze? Hence, it was perhaps inevitable that the unexpected duo—long-time friends Nick Jonas and John Varvatos—would come out with their own tequila. Handcrafted in their own small-craft distillery, they created Villa One using traditional techniques, and working side by side with Arturo Fuentes—a Master Distiller with three decades of distilling experience under his belt, whom they refer to as “the Godfather of Tequila.”

The pop singer and long-time menswear designer focused heavily on creating an ethically-sourced sustainable product. The result is a 100% blue weber agave from both the highland and lowland regions of Jalisco with a distinct and rounded profile. The brand comes in three 80-proof expressions: “Silver”—a clear liquid bottled immediately on production to deliver a nose of cooked agave with fruit aromas and featuring a bouquet of dried fruit and nuts that meanders into a caramelized agave for a long, smooth finish. “Reposado”—a light, gold liquid aged in American oak barrels for six months with the purpose of producing bronze aromas mixed with caramel and candy, and boasting full, balanced butterscotch, chocolate, and smoke flavors with a light coffee, caramel and mellowed spice finish. And, lastly, “Anejo”—which is aged for more than twelve months in American oak barrels, resulting in a dark amber color with notes of rich caramel, wood, and vanilla wafer banana essences for a full-bodied feel and long-lasting finish.

The duo also designed the bottle together—with each separate expression featuring fine jewelry-inspired metalwork around the neck to represent the signature style of the Varvatos brand.

Here, the frequent collaborators interview each other—reminiscing on how they became friends, traveling together, and why once-in-a lifetime experiences go better with a cocktail in hand.

NICK JONAS: How did the idea to collaborate on tequila come together in the first place? 

JOHN VARVATOS: Well, it started with the passion for tequila, and every time we’re together, we would enjoy a tequila together to celebrate the moment.

JONAS: Yeah. I think that after meeting and realizing we had a lot in common and a lot of the same passions— and building a friendship quickly—it was a natural fit to find ways to collaborate. And after a fashion collaboration, a fragrance collaboration, it kind of naturally transitioned into this wonderful journey in the tequila space and building Villa One.

VARVATOS: Why don’t we talk about the history of how we met, how we became friends, and how many years we have been friends.

JONAS: I think it’s been about six years. We met at a dinner in New York; it was kind of a way to introduce CEOs and designers and artists and athletes to each other and build relationships. It was supposed to be pretty social, but John and I just ended up in the corner, talking to each other all night about life and creativity, and music, fashion, and everything in between. We hit it off right away and realized that we wanted to work together in a bigger capacity. So the following day, I invited John up to the studio, we had some tequila there and talked and listened to some music, and it just transitioned into all the things that we’ve been able to do together now in a really organic way. We worked on a lot of projects together: the cologne, the campaign, tequila. Why do you think we work so well together? 

VARVATOS: Well, it starts with mutual respect and the process of knowing that two heads are better than one. There’s always the unexpected that comes out when you don’t come from the same place. You may be coming from a similar creative thought process, but you come from different places, and it makes it very interesting.

Why [did we decide to do] tequila over other spirits?

nick jonas and john varvatos on LEO edit

 JONAS: I think Tequila, for both of us, was a point of passion and something that we had a lot of interest in. Obviously, we didn’t know a lot about it at that point, but we wanted to learn and were fortunate enough to collaborate with our master distiller, Arturo Fuentes, who helped bring our vision to life, and to really turn it into something we’re very proud of.

Let’s talk about the idea behind the name, Villa One Tequila.

VARVATOS: When we were in Mexico, in Cabo, on our way down to Jalisco, Mexico to work on the tequila project for the first time, we were staying at a villa called Villa One. And we didn’t really think about it much while we were brainstorming that wonderful evening, and talking about what the future could hold with this new project surrounding tequila—but when we left the next morning, we looked at the placket on the gate, and it said “Villa One.” It just seemed like all the stars had aligned, and that was going to be the name.

What’s your favorite way to drink tequila—straight up or on the rocks or as a cocktail?

JONAS: I got into a little mixology during the start of quarantine; there’s a couple of different things I worked on—Bloody Maria, which is obviously a substitute for tequila to vodka, spicy. I like to make that and some other cocktails that lean into some of the more chocolate, earthier notes in our reposado and anejo; so actually using chocolate bitters as an accent in some cocktails. Even coffee itself has been a lot of fun. But my favorite way to drink Villa One is the reposado on the rocks with club soda and orange wedge.

Let’s discuss the importance of creating this sustainably. About the personal connection to creating something sustainable.

VARVATOS: I think we’re all connected to where the future of the world is going, and people’s lives that are affected by the earth, and we’re very clear that everything we look at in the different processes and different products and different categories we work on—that sustainability becomes an important part of that. For today and for our families in the future.

JONAS: What are your favorite settings for a good cocktail or drink? 

VARVATOS: Wow, there are so many great settings [laughs]. It’s anywhere where you’re really hanging with family and friends or your wife or your best friend, and you just are celebrating the moment.

JONAS: I agree. I think one of the things that drew us to build a tequila brand, in general, was this idea that we found ourselves in these great places, having these great life experiences—and trying to bring that energy of that connectivity and friendship and family to the culture around it. It’s been so fun to see that come to life. Even in times like this last year, where we’ve all had to be apart, whether it’s on Zoom or now socially distant, whatever way is possible—just connecting with people we love with a great drink in hand is always good.

VARVATOS: We’ve traveled quite a bit together, what’s one of your favorite memory from our travels? 

JONAS: I think the time we were fortunate enough to go to Cuba while shooting the Jonas Brothers documentary, Chasing Happiness. Obviously, time spent with the brothers and in such an incredible place as Cuba is always amazing, but hat’s where I think this seed of the real vision of the culture of the brand came to life. And the experiences we had there and the great food, drinks and culture that we experienced.

nick jonas and john varvatos on LEO edit

VARVATOS: I agree. That was like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. On a style note, which of my looks is your favorite that you’ve worn? 

JONAS: There’s been so many. I think some of the pieces that we collaborated on together. And actually, one of the coolest things was seeing the hoodie that we made in Spider-Man; I think Zendaya was wearing it.

VARVATOS: That was pretty cool.

JONAS: That was awesome. And then, also, I think, the Grammy’s red carpet a few years back. The tweed jacket was a pretty special moment, and I always love wearing your stuff.

VARVATOS: So where is the future of all of our collaborations headed?

JONAS: Who knows, the sky’s the limit. We have a lot of fun working together, we always push ourselves and each other to be the best we can be, and Villa One is, I’m sure, something that’ll be a part of our lives for a very, very long time and will continue to evolve in different ways. We’re just gonna ride this wave and try to make people as aware as we can of this brand that we’re incredibly proud of and that we’re excited to share with the world.

VARVATOS: Yeah. We created it as a culture—and lifestyle as well. So what else can come from it? We don’t know yet, but it will be fun to see.

NICK & JOHN’S “THE SPICY MARGARITA” RECIPE

spicy margarita on LEO edit

MAKES 1-2

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz. Villa One Silver
  • 2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 oz. Agave Nectar
  • 1-2 dashes of Chipotle Tabasco
  • 1/4 jalapeño pepper cut into thin slices

METHOD

  1. Shaken and strain in a Rocks Glass
  2. Serve on the rocks
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge, with or without kosher salt trim

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