When you consider what 1990’s Miami was really all about there’s a lost-in-that-moment quality that exists in the same way a mythical creature does. It’s the Loch Ness Monster of years past. And even though the memory, albeit faint, remains for some, the years and those at the forefront of their curation, have left an indelible mark on the landscape. In a nutshell, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Why? Because of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” phenomenon that surrounds not having to mess with a good thing. One of those good things, I’m sure most will agree, was the creation of the lounge concept—the hotel bar continues to be amongst the most chic of cocktail consumption destinations for the upwardly mobile; but it wasn’t always that way. No, someone had to come up with that moody lighting, classic cocktails-reincarnated, perfect sound, vibe that changed things up forever.
It all started in 1991 when Rande Gerber, a former model from Long Island, descended on the city at the ripe age of 29 to open what would be his second bar on Ocean Drive. The Whiskey, as it would be dubbed, existed in a time when Gianni Versace was still alive and well and residing in his palatial Ocean Drive digs. The beach was booming; and punctuated with super models. That concept paved the way for what would place Gerber in the books as one of the original pioneers of South Beach nightlife. At the time, hotel bars were reserved for guests of the property and were run by the hotels themselves. The idea to lease from the hotels was unheard of to say the least, but Gerber saw the bigger picture. The idea that if created by design, the vibe could instead be local; visitors and hotel guests wouldn’t have to search for close by hot spots and residents could make the concepts their favorite watering holes depending on which place they liked best. Of course this meant that Gerber would need full control of the venue and every detail that came with creating his vision, which wasn’t easy for many hotels that were used to taking their own charge. From music to cocktail menus, glassware to uniforms, everything was Gerber-approved—all in-step with what he considered a great night out.
Today that same philosophy remains at the forefront of all he does and has done since.
Gerber is the founder of the influential nightlife companies Midnight Oil and the Gerber Group and under those umbrellas has been shaking the industry up for over two decades. His mark has been made from Miami to Madrid and everywhere in between. In New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Malibu, Mexico, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Arizona and even Chile, you might find yourself sipping in a Gerber-designed concept. Similarly, your bar might be a copy of his genius which has been injected into properties including Starwood Hotels, W Hotels, Strategic Hotels, Sol Melia hotels and the like through international preferred partnerships. Aside from hotel lounge concepts, the multi-millionaire entrepreneur has dabbled in restaurants and nightclubs all over. In a word, he really gets it. Which is why it’s only fitting that his next foray into business was in spirits.
In 2012 Gerber launched super-premium Puerto Rican rum, Caliche, with Roberto Serrallés of Destileria Serrallés—a renowned sixth-generation family-owned rum business. The rum, he’s said was something he “really wanted to drink” and that his “friends would think was the best.” Various accolades speak to the latter.
Recently he’s been dabbling in a whole new spirits venture with “the boys,” code for friends, which for most translates to an ex-boarding school roommate or perhaps a soccer buddy and for Gerber means super star Hollywood A-lister George Clooney and philanthropist and real estate developer and CEO of Discovery Land Company, Mike Meldman. Together the trio, have created Casamigos Tequila, a small batch, ultra-premium tequila made from 100% Blue Weber agave. What does that mean? Essentially it won’t give you a hangover, promises Gerber who’s known to sip the tonic, which comes in Blanco, Reposado and Añejo variations with most of his visitors. At his office, which is sick, during this shoot, we too took a little back with Gerber between exploring his James Perse-designed limited edition ping pong table and having him pose with his guitar which he admittedly only plays for super model wife and mother of his children, Cindy Crawford. Crawford also enjoys herself some Casamigos for being the not to-kill-ya kind of tequila locked away with bad college memories.
And while Gerber, Clooney and Meldman created the product after what they loved to drink, there’s definitely much to be said for Gerber’s experience creating a cool factor and understanding his consumer after so many years in the industry which plays a crucial role in the brand’s success. That actually might be an understatement. It hasn’t even been four years since Casamigos launched and you’d be hard pressed not to find it. We doubt Gerber and Clooney even have to pack any when on their famous motorcycle boys’ trips, because it’s literally everywhere. Truly, as their website boasts their being the fastest growing tequila brand, they just might be right. Surely, the threesome and their individual brand of cool had a part in spreading the word but it’s the quality, the smoothness, the hangover-free quality that keeps people coming back for more. I myself have become a convert.
Who knows what will come next for the Gerber clan. We’d be hell bent to find ourselves surprised by any stroke of genius he might have up his sleeve; but until then we’ll leave you with two Toys for Boys-approved Casamigos pieces of advice: Drink Responsibly; Always have a driver. And yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to drink Blanco after Labor Day.