Sammy Hagar and Santo Spirits never miss a flavor beat, interview

Sammy Hagar Honored With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Sammy Hagar Honored With Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame / Kevin Winter/GettyImages

While the infamous Red Rocker commands the stage, Sammy Hagar and Santo Spirits continue to hit a high note with craftsmanship, innovation, and creativity. Whether enjoyed neat or shaken into a refreshing cocktail, the brand’s liquors deserve infinite time in the spotlight.

Founded with a belief that life is better when lived to its fullest, loudest, and most robust potential, Santo Spirits has sought to be the front man in the liquor category, the one who wants to stand out from the crowd. While the offerings are rooted in tradition, they never want to live by others’ rules.

One of the brand’s offerings, mezquila set off on its own path from the beginning. The combination of mezcal and tequila in a single bottle is special.

While that offering might be the unique bottle in the line, the spirits brand offers blanco, reposado, and anejo expressions, as well. The entire line celebrates the agave and respects creativity blended with craftsmanship; it is always the perfect melody.

During a conversation with FoodSided, Sammy Hagar discusses his inspiration behind Santo Spirits, how the food world influences the spirit brand, and an appreciation for flavor.

Sammy Hagar has a long history in the spirits world. Before he took over the Palms pool or opened his other restaurants, he had an appreciation for a great tequila.  Even before today’s additive free liquor discussion took place, Hagar said that he is a purist and wanted people to rediscover tequila for what it is and what it can be. When that blanco tequila is smooth, round, yet delicate and balanced, it is a spirit that can be enjoyed in many ways.

The journey to get to that point was not necessarily instantaneous. Unlike the viral hit in today’s world, the path was meant to be thoughtful, respectful to the culture and the history of the spirit.

After creating and stepping away from a successful tequila brand, Hagar said that he wanted to explore mezcal. Heading to Jalisco, he spent several weeks tasting various offerings. While the experience was memorable, it left him unsatisfied.

Hagar said, “we tasted all these mezcals and I could not handle drinking too much of it. The more expensive, or rarer the mezcal, the less that I liked it because it was too smoky, with too much character and flavor.”

“I decided that I wanted to tame it down. I thought that maybe I could combined mezcal and tequila. It took awhile to get the right blend between mezcal and tequila.”

That unique offering is not about a perfect math equation to get the balance. Like the entire Santo Spirits line, it is about the feeling when that first sip hits the lips. Similar to how a favorite song just keeps playing in your mind, that taste lingers and brings people back for more.

Hagar’s passion for Santo Spirits is equally matched by his collaborator, Guy Fieri. As Hagar mentioned, Fieri loves mezcal and is always happy to enjoy a pour. Additionally, he understood that it was important to get the liquor into the hands of mixologists.

Through Fieri’s culinary experience, the liquor brand understands that inspiring bartenders to pick up that bottle for cocktails is key. Even if Hagar admitted that he might order only one of those smoky cocktails, understanding how Santo Spirits fits into that culinary influenced world is key. From the expert mixologist looking to embrace the latest cocktail trend to the person at home who wants consistency every time, these liquors deliver on that promise.

Since Hagar is a purist, he wanted to ensure that his tequilas and mezquila stand up on their own as well as in a cocktail. Hagar admitted that he prefers blanco offerings and simpler cocktails that allow the spirit’s flavor to come through.

From his Blanco Margarita, which has just a touch of lime juice and some sweetness to the Mezcalita with its orange flavors, the idea is never to overshadow the spirit. It is great to have flavor supporting that smooth, nuanced taste but the other flavors should never be the high note.

Hagar offered an interesting take on the spicy margarita trend. Hagar explained, “habanero goes really well with tequila because of the sweetness.” That spicy, sweet note in the pepper with any of the tequilas is quite enjoyable. While he suggests just a “little slice,” that boost is quite enjoyable.

Also, Hagar recommends putting a little salt on your tongue before sipping one of his spirits. While he prefers a sea salt, that little sprinkle on the tip of the tongue makes for a beautiful flavor journey. He appreciates the sweetness that appears in the flavor profile.

Since a great beverage is often enjoyed with friends, the connection between the moment and the drink makes lasting memories. It is one of the reasons why music, food, and beverages are often entwined.

Hagar shared this story, “when I built Cabo Wabo Cantina, the idea was to play music that I like and to eat the food that I like. I love Mexican food, hot sauce, and chili peppers. I want it to be flavorful, keep your palate alive.”

“Then, I started making tequila. There is no better experience than when the space is packed to the rafters, I’m on stage, and we are all drinking Santo. It becomes a better experience. We are all connected.”

Anyone who has had the privilege in the moment can appreciate that communal experience. When all the pieces come together, it is magical.

Although that specific moment may not be replicated at home, the idea resonates in other ways. From raising a toast during a birthday celebration to an impromptu Saturday gathering that has people laughing all night long, a great libation, engaging conversation, and enjoying the company are the perfect ratio for a memorable moment.

Santo Spirits, which includes a blanco, reposado, and anejo tequila, as well as its signature mezquila can be found at various retailers.