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As part of Camarena Tequila’s Step Up To The Plate promotion, Mike had the opportunity to enjoy a night at the ball park – with tequila! He tells us all about the big event with this multi-media feature article.
Described as a “deeply personal business narrative,” the story centers around the development from the ground up of Patrón tequila, a “brand that single-handedly changed the face of the liquor industry,” by its co-founder, Martin Crowley, and as told by his then young and lively life partner, Ilana Edelstein.
Tequila is by far my spirit of choice. I’ve loved it for decades, and I still love learning by tasting more tequilas and by researching its fascinating history. That’s why when the offer to preview Ilana Edelstein’s new book, The Patron Way, came across my desk, I jumped at the opportunity.
I wasn’t fooled by the above description, however. In fact, I’m not even a fan of Patron Tequila.
Drinking it is an unsettling experience for me, though I do understand the big batch Patron Tequila available today is a different product than the one the partners Martin Crowley and Jon Paul DeJoria fell in love with years ago. I simply wanted to learn about the early days of one of the biggest brands ever.
A Lifestyle Business
Yes, business is a key player in this story. At a time when the term “Lifestyle Business” had yet to be coined, Patron was just that. Ilana Edelstein and Martin Crowley, along with J.P. and Eloise DeJoria, lived that lifestyle and created the Patron brand around it.
The DeJorias had money and plenty of Hollywood connections. Martin Crowley had hustle and Ilana had an instinctive, albeit racy, style. The combination was magic.
Great juice, sexy presentation of the distinctive bottle with the green ribbon, and even sexier presenters in a time when using gorgeous women to promote liquor was a novel idea.
Today, products and celebrities are branded intentionally and strategically. By contrast, the Patron brand grew organically through the millionaire lifestyle lived by J.P. and his gorgeous wife, Eloise, and guided by the hustle and determination of the rough-around-the edges Martin Crowley and his bombshell lover, Ilana Edelstein, who softened his brash approach to business.
Having a background in branding and marketing, I understood all that. I’m a novelist with a degree in business who pays her rent with marketing work.
It made perfect sense – top end lifestyle and top shelf tequila. But, what captivated me was the love story.
The Patron Way is the tragic story of a thirteen-year love affair between Martin Crowley and Ilana Edelstein that ended when ego, greed, and lawyers got in the way.
Ilana was making a great living as a financial advisor to school teachers. When Martin asked her to give it all up and work with him full-time on Patron, she didn’t hesitate to accept. He didn’t offer her shares, a paycheck or a wedding ring, only the opportunity to continue their love affair living the glamorous lifestyle they both enjoyed.
She was madly in love with him and, by all accounts, he with her. What more could two lovers want than a business they could build together? Why wouldn’t she accept?
It all went well for a loving couple that seemed to complement each other perfectly. A beautiful home, parties, A-list social circles, yachts and island vacations. Until Patron became so in-demand that it caught the attention of Big Liquor.
The book blurb describes it as an “astonishingly competitive and sometimes cutthroat industry.” Cutthroat it was.
Lawyers swooped in and worked on Martin’s insecurities. His health was failing due to advanced heart disease and he and Ilana weren’t married. It doesn’t take a genius to see how lawyers could play that to their advantage.
What if she broke up with him and filed a palimony lawsuit? If he’d known the history of Marvin vs. Marvin, Martin Crowley wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but lawyers can make persuasive arguments.
What if she tried to take half of his half of the company? What if she sued for unpaid wages? Did she have a contract? Did they have an agreement?
Martin follows the questionable advice of lawyers, enacted by an even more questionable court system. This is where the glitter fades and the story turns ugly.
He breaks up with the woman he loves, the woman he can’t bear to sleep without at night. Hearts break. There is a long drawn out trial, her reputation is smeared and yet, he continues to watch her, to stalk her, to love her, and she still loves him.
He moves to a house on Antigua and shelters his money. A new will is drawn up. Though he assures her she’ll be fine, he promises her nothing.
At the end of the story, Ilana is rebuilding her life. All those years of love for Martin and Patron earned her nothing in the way of financial security. Though she is still loyal to the Patron brand and loves Martin dearly, she realizes she must press on. Martin’s story doesn’t end as well.
His financial future is secure with Patron, but when he has a heart attack at the top of the stairs in his beautiful home in Antigua, the lawyers that he depended upon to protect his interests were nowhere to be found. He died alone, at the bottom of the stairs, surrounded by his wealth. His body was found the next day by his staff.
My heart ached for Ilana, for her hard work, love and devotion, for what she’d gone through with the breakup and then what she must have felt when she learned how the love of her life had died.
Though I may never be a fan of Patron Tequila, I can honestly say The Patron Way by Ilana Edelstein was a delicious cocktail of innovation and inspiration with a twist of tragedy for a bittersweet finish.
The Patron Way is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers in both ebook and hardcopy.
The packaging was promising. The bottle is a deep, earthy brown-black like those cups of coffee I enjoy every morning. The lettering was white with gold trim, just enough bling to show they’d taken some pride in this product.
Alex’s Inspector Clouseau voice kept coming to mind as I broke the seal. I removed it carefully with that “child at Christmas” sort of anticipation where you don’t dare ask yourself “Will it be what I’ve always wanted?”
You see, my tagline for decades has been, “In my world, coffee and tequila are food groups.” (In fact, you may just see that meme floating around cyberspace thanks to Mike Morales.)
I’ve been all over the world and tasted every coffee there is. I know the difference between Robusto and Arabica beans and I’ll be happy to go on at length about how important the grind of a coffee is. I’ll also slap anyone who dares to present me with a cup of coffee that was blended with chicory. I don’t drink that frou-frou double-moo-cow-chunk-chunk stuff, either. Don’t make me go off like Denis Leary about that.
So, you see, I take my coffee very seriously.
A spellbinding effect began when I opened the bottle. The first whiff delivered deep, rich, earthy espresso. Not coffee–E S P R E S S O. I’m talking about perfectly roasted beans ground into a fine powder and forced by hot steam to give up their deepest essence.
Though the bottle arrived attended by eight lovely shot glasses emblazoned with the Avion logo, I poured this into a champagne flute to let it breathe. (The anticipation nearly had me doing the Guinness dance.)
Finally, I could wait no more.
I swirled it in the crystal glass and it’s dark legs made me giddy.
I smelled it to my right, then to my left, and then head on.
The tequila and the espresso were equally matched. No one overpowered the other. They both stood strong and full together, but there was something more. There was just a hint of honey on the nose and the combination of the three was delightfully intriguing. Just smelling it made my mouth water.
It was like Christmas! “Do I drink…do I wait…?”
The nose was phenomenal and I didn’t want to break that spell if the flavor didn’t deliver on the promise.
Love at First Taste
I finally closed my eyes and took a sip.
The quality of the ingredients and the mix of flavors was exquisite. It tickled my lips and sparkled on my tongue. Yes, sparkled. The Italian espresso was there in full force but the Avion Silver tequila was not letting it steal the show.
The things it did in my mouth!
I’ve had other coffee flavored liqueurs. I had high hopes for Patron’s XO Café but it was nasty straight and completely ruined my coffee when mixed. Avion Espresso has taken coffee liqueur from Maxwell House instant straight to the cafés of Europe holding hands with the blue agave fields of Jalisco.
Avion Espresso is THE liqueur for coffee lovers and a spectacular treasure for those of us who love both coffee and tequila.
Ken Austin, Founder and Chairman, commented on Avion’s addition of a liqueur to its line.
“At first I didn’t want to do it as a tequila purist. After many months of work at the distillery I was very happy with the results and we released it. It is doing so well along with our 100% Agave products and I can’t thank enough the many people who are supporting our brand and company!”
This attention to detail and high standard of quality is what makes Avion Espresso the new bar for any brand considering making a coffee liqueur. Honestly, I can’t imagine how it could possibly be done better.
Avion Espresso is for those who are passionate about coffee. This isn’t coffee “flavor”. This is scintillating silver tequila and dark, rich, espresso. This is the perfect mix of the night before and the morning after, the nightcap you drink as you watch the sunrise together. This is early morning sex before sleeping all day!
We do not purchase all the spirits we review here. Some we receive from the brand owner, some we receive from the distributor, and some we receive through PR companies. Some spirits we purchase ourselves.