Roger Clyne introduces his own brand of Tequila

By Chris Hansen Orf Get Out
Jimmy Buffett has one. So does Sammy Hagar. And now Tempe’s Roger Clyne has his own brand of tequila. “It’s been a dream for a long time, like ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if?'” Clyne says of having his own batch of tequila to share with his friends and fans. “I’ve had a couple of people and companies try to get it off the ground over the years, but for one reason or another the vibe just wasn’t right. But when (longtime friends) Joe (Anacleto) and Manny (Sanchez) and I sat down, it was right.”

In what is probably the best song Roger Clyne ever wrote for his old band The Refreshments, “Nada,” Clyne sings of the ritual all tequila drinkers know so well, to “tip the bottle and bite the lime.”

Now Clyne and his legions of fans can do so together with “Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine” beginning this weekend at the Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers’ biannual performance at the Sunset Cantina in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, popularly known as Rocky Point.

“It’s one really, really good anejo tequila recipe,” Clyne says. “Being around the stuff for so long I’ve sort of become discerning about what I do and don’t like about tequilas, and I really like the stuff that’s, like, the old recipes, so that’s what we’ve tried to make with ‘Moonshine.'”

MAKING ‘MOONSHINE’

Anacleto and Sanchez own two of the longest-running bars in Puerto Penasco, JJ’s Cantina and Manny’s Beach Club, and Clyne has been friends with his partners for years.

“I’ve long drunk from the well of the tequila bar at Manny’s,” Clyne says, laughing. “And it just so happens that Manny owns a stake in a little family-owned distillery in Tequila, Mexico. One day Joe and Manny and I were talking about the (Mexico) shows and Manny said, ‘Why don’t we brew something up that would be a good representation of what you like in a tequila?’

I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I came down a couple of weeks later and he had about 14 different kinds that came from his distillery. He’s a serious connoisseur, and we kind of began honing in on it and found the anejo I like, let it age a bit longer, and pulled it from the cask right when we thought it was ready, and that batch, which is a little over 2 years old, will be our first offering.”

The crew aged 1,000 – all numbered – bottles of the 100 percent blue agave tequila in oak barrels, and the elixir will be available at JJ’s Cantina and Manny’s Beach Club. The tequila is available in shots and bottles – which can be purchased for $40 ($50 with a specially crafted
case) – and is in the process of being certified “organic.”

Will Clyne try to make his tequila available north of the border? “I think the people will have to decide,” he says. “It’s kind of the way we run all of the businesses – we believe that quality should precede quantity.
That’s how we run the Peacemakers, so if there’s a demand and people respond and say ‘I’d love to get this elsewhere,’ then we’ll figure out how to do that, but for now it’s just available at the (Mexico) shows and at JJ’s and Manny’s.”

EARLY EDUCATION

Clyne’s love affair with the firewater, which has fueled his songs and performances since The Refreshments hit Tempe clubs in the mid-’90s, began when Clyne was an anthropology student at ASU, and did a total immersion ethnographic study on mariachi musicians in Mexico in the early ’90s.

“I learned a lot about traditional norteno music, a lot about the language, and a lot about tequila from hanging out with mariachi musicians,” Clyne says. “The first time I remember having real tequila was in the back of an auto mechanic’s shop, in a vacant lot where these mechanics were burning tires. “I’m just a kid trying to speak the language and hold my own as a respectable gringo, and one guy said, ‘You want to speak our language? Here’s our native tongue,’ and he handed me the bottle. I was thinking, ‘This is it, this is Mexico. This is tire fires under the stars with mariachis and this bottle of tequila.’ That’s what tequila represents as a spirit to me.”

While the budding enterprise may not have the business power of a Jimmy Buffett or a Sammy Hagar, Clyne believes that his tequila is every bit as good as Hagar’s award-winning Cabo Wabo brand. “I’m super pleased with it, you know, it’s really good – it’s kind of scary good,” Clyne says. “We feel that it’s a very dignified offering. For an entrepreneurial effort, we feel it has a lot of soul. It’s just two old guys who love tequila, and one younger guy who loves tequila. “We’re not trying to compete with Jose Cuervo or anything,” Clyne laughs.

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
With: Andy Hersey
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, October 20th, 2007
Where: Sunset Cantina, Puerto Penasco, Mexico (across from Penasco del Sol Hotel)
Cost: $27
For Lodging in Rocky Point, visit www.seasidemexico.com  

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