Actress, comedienne, narrator, pop music collaborator, singer, producer, writer, world traveler, radio announcer, book author, and tequila brand owner. Those are just a few of Cleo Rocos’ credentials.
Best known for her years as a sidekick on the BBC’s beloved Kenny Everett Television Show, she is often compared to Lucille Ball for her beauty, wit and business acumen.
Her circle of friends range from kings of comedy, queens of countries, princes of industry, and girls of spice.
Learning from a prized friend and mentor, Tomas Estes (Tequila Ocho), she established The Tequila Society in the UK, and launched her own AquaRiva tequila in 2012.
This Tequila Boss Lady pulls no punches when it comes to 100% agave tequila. Here, she shares her views on our customary handful of questions.
TA: How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry? What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?
CR: Everyone assumes that because Tequila is a male dominated industry that I would have to face challenges. I love men and working with them. I have always been treated with great respect and my thirst for knowledge willingly nurtured by everyone that I have met.
In fact in 2009 I was recognized by the CNIT with a coveted award, presented to me at the annual Dia del Tequilero, in Guadalajara. A great honour.
I love the people in the tequila industry. I spend a lot of time in Mexico and I have never encountered any negative experiences as a woman.
The tequila industry is cool and some of the coolest people in it are older than your grandparents and can show you how to really party.
It is well recognized that people live long and happy lives in this industry.
TA: How have you been able to change things within the Tequila Industry?
CR: I have been able to change things extensively in the UK, turning around the negative misconceptions by relentlessly explaining the dramatic difference between mixto and 100% agave tequilas and encouraging people to actually give tequila another try.
I actively get the tequila message out to a much wider audience through my career in television.
I appear on many TV and radio shows, write articles and give interviews explaining the truly exquisite experience of a well crafted 100% Agave Tequila.
TA: What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?
CR: If you are a woman who can bring something to the tequila industry and have a real passion for it then there are great opportunities as there are equally for men.
Most people are not aware that women have a more sensitive and accurate palate than men. It is a fact of nature. Many more women are now top tasting and spirits profile experts throughout the wine and spirits industries.
TA: What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?
CR: The most important facet to change is to implement legislation demanding the clear labeling Mixed Tequila [mixto] as “MIXED” or even “Tequila FLAVOURED.”
Mixed tequila is generally only 51% agave tequila and not the “real deal.”
This lack of label clarity is highly confusing for the new consumer and detrimental to the tequila industry.
The experience of drinking “Mixed” Tequila is why most people think that they hate tequila.
It is unfair to the producers of 100% Agave brands to have to constantly battle to re-educate consumers due to this lack of label clarity.
TA: Do you approve of how tequila brands are currently marketing themselves?
CR: Each brand obviously has their own marketing strategy. We all know that good 100% agave tequila is to be sipped and enjoyed.
The versatility of this incredible (100% agave) spirit is having a profound influence on cocktails globally and is now the favourite spirit of top bartenders.
I do not agree with promoting rounds of inferior mixed tequila shots to customers to shoot down in one go. This gives Tequila a bad reputation.
I always warn against any drink having to be consumed ice cold or in one go. No one needs to drink like that unless they are going to have a limb removed without an anesthetic.
TA: Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?
CR: I have been very welcomed and totally embraced by the Tequila Industry.
I have created my own multi award winning brand, AquaRiva Tequila and I have only experienced good will and encouragement all the way.
If you have a true passion, a desire for knowledge and to work with this glorious spirit, there are no barriers.
I love working in this industry. It’s crammed with enthusiastic people, family traditions and amazing characters.
The tequila industry is very much a way of life but not as you know it.