Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and spirits trailblazer Sammy Hagar turned his passion for great food, music, and spirits into a thriving and iconic lifestyle brand with his flagship, Cabo Wabo Cantina. He has since launched an award-winning portfolio of top-shelf spirits.
His latest venture, Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Co. recently debuted a line of sparkling rum canned cocktails. We got to chat with Sammy about his latest RTD, his favorite cocktails and love of bartending and his pretty damn good Margaritas!
Tell us about the projects you are working on.
I’m always working on a lot of different projects simultaneously because I’m one of those people that loves to multitask. Currently, I’m promoting my new album with The Circle that was produced by Dave Cobb, Crazy Times.
Last year I released my sparkling rum cocktails in a can, Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Co., in California, Texas, Florida and Nevada. Soon they’ll be in many other states, which is very exciting. People loved our four original flavors like Island Pop, Pineapple Splash, Tangerine Dream and Cherry Kola Chill; and I’m now working to perfect the recipe for two more flavors. They’re all great blends with my Beach Bar Rum. I’m very picky when it comes to getting the flavors perfected but we’ve just about got them ready to launch.
With your busy schedule, what do you like to do with your downtime?
Downtime? What is that?? Haha. I haven’t found any downtime.
If you ever give me too much downtime, I end up starting a new project. That’s the creative side of me that I love. Because, for me, the creative side is thrilling. It’s magical. It’s like when the lights go on and you see everything so clearly. But then the reality hits you and you realize, “oh shoot, now I have to go to work, and I have to do this and that and that, etc.” which is not as much fun. Unfortunately, sometimes a lot of people fail to do the hard work needed for a venture to flourish, and then you end up with a failed project. So, to answer your question, I don’t end up having a lot of downtime because my creativity leads to a lot of time and work. But I’m 100% okay with that!
When you go out to eat, where do you like to dine?
I’m a fanatic about food. I think it comes from the fact that my grandfather was a fantastic chef, my mother was a wonderful cook and I love to cook myself, so it’s in my blood. When I do go out, I pretty much go to the tried-and-true places that I know have great food.
I’m also lucky enough to have several friends who are amazing chefs, so I go to their restaurants. You know that if you go to a Michael Mina restaurant, you’re going to get a great meal every single time, no matter which of his restaurants or what style of food they serve, the quality will consistently be top notch. The same can be said for Wolfgang Puck. There are several restaurateurs who have restaurants in multiple cities so when I’m in a new city I’ll choose to go to one of their restaurants because I’m guaranteed a great meal. And nothing ruins my evening like a bad meal.
What types of dishes do you typically order?
When I walk into a restaurant that I’ve never been to before, I try to talk to someone like the manager or the chef if I can get a minute with him or her. I will ask them, “If this is the only time in my life that I’ll ever visit here, what should I eat?” That insider advice tends to get me the best meal in the house. I would order something special that day because you know it’s fresh. Or, if it’s an Italian restaurant, I always order a pasta course.
Any favorite bars?
It would definitely have to be Cabo Wabo Cantinas and Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grills! Hahaha
What drinks do you order when out? Favorite drink?
My favorite drink in the world and probably the greatest drink that has ever been invented is a great handmade Margarita. But if it’s not handmade, it can be one of the worst drinks! When you get those packaged mixers and mix it with good tequila, you basically just ruined the tequila.
The ingredients are a good fresh lime juice, and even better if you can get Mexican limes, simple syrup, Cointreau or Triple Sec type and a good 100% agave tequila shaken over ice and poured straight into a lightly salted Martini glass. But you can’t pour too much at one time because you don’t want it to get diluted from the ice cubes.
Do you prepare drinks at home?
Absolutely! I love entertaining at home. That’s pretty much why I created my book Sammy Hagar’s Cocktail Hits, because it’s full of great drink recipes like the one I just told you.
Tell us about your home bar. What is it stocked with?
My home bar is overstocked with tequila, mezcal, and rum from all over the world. Because those are the spirits that I create and sell. I like to see what other people are doing and it inspires me to make my products even better. I also have your standard things like Campari, vodka, and gin. But I’m not much of a brown spirits guy.
But my pride and joy and where I go every night before I cook dinner is my wine cellar. My cellar has more than 14,000 bottles and is dug into the side of a mountain with a lock on it. It’s more secure than the bank safes in town! I collect wine from all over the world and my collection goes back to 70s in California, the 40s in Bordeaux and the 70s in Italy and Spain.
Have you ever been a bartender?
I’ve been a bartender many times. Matter of fact, every time I walk into one of my restaurants I end up behind the bar. I love mixing drinks for people. Also, when I’m out promoting my products and I walk into other people’s bars, I end up going straight behind the bar and mixing Margaritas or Mojitos, which are pretty damn good if I say so myself.
If you could share a drink with anyone, who would it be?
That’s a good question. I’d say Jimmy Buffett who I’ve met, but we never went drinking. But I think Buffet and I drinking together in the right location, maybe south of the border, would have a great time talking about drinks and about our travels. And we’d probably put away a large amount of tequila!