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A brief history of Tesla Tequila, which exists
Plus: White Claw in SC, Waffle House's new beer, the State of The Boozeletter™, and more
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I depend on readers to underwrite the labor that goes into producing this newsletter. Thanks for reading!—Dave.
Do you guys remember that time Elon Musk called that British cave diver a “pedo guy” on Twitter for not wanting to use the billionaire’s maybe-real submersible to rescue those kids trapped in a fld cave in Thailand? That was pretty weird and unfortunate.
Also weird and unfortunate: Musk contract-distilled a vanity tequila, put it in a bottle shaped like a lightning bolt, and sold it for $250 a pop to people I don’t want to meet.
This all started on April Fool’s Day 2018, when Musk tweeted a joke about how Tesla had gone bankrupt and he’d been found passed out surrounded by bottles of “Teslaquilla.” Lol, just Elon being ePiC on the timeline again! (The company’s stock fell 7% the following day.) But in October of that year Tesla actually applied for a trademark to sell a “distilled blue agave liquor” under the Teslaquila name. (Snaps to the patent lawyer who dropped that weird second “l” from the official paperwork.)
Mexican regulators responsible for protecting tequila’s denomination of origin were like “uh absolutely not, buddy,” arguing that in order to market agave liquor as Teslaquila, the company would have to partner with an actual Mexican tequila producer.
Musk tweeted he would “fight Big Tequila” (???), but the company eventually abandoned its trademark application even so. Smash cut to now, and Tesla Tequila añejo is produced in partnership with the boutique Southern California brand Nosotros at a distillery in Jalisco, MX.
Now, the initial run of Tesla Tequila has sold out. I’ve emailed Tesla to inquire how many bottles they’ve actually sold, and will update if I hear back. Regardless, resellers have taken to eBay to sell the limited-edition bottles at stupendous mark-ups. (The listings are all for “empty” bottles because eBay and other platforms tend to prohibit the sale of actual booze; selling “empties” is a pretty common workaround amongst beer traders as well.)
But but but: according to the official Tesla Tequila site, deliveries aren’t expected to begin until late 2020, so it’s entirely possible these resellers don’t even have the bottles to sell. They could be straight-up grifters who have neither the ability nor the intent to actually follow through on their outrageous offers, and are just capitalizing on the attention to swindle credulous rubes into paying top dollar for a sexier version of a thing that already exists. Hmm. Anyway, being a billionaire sounds pretty tight, you guys!
The State of The Boozeletter™
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🌴 Welcome to SC, White Claw
Check-check, check-check. This is your fearless Fingers editor coming to you live from HQ in sunny South Carolina, where masks are very optional, an eviction crisis looms, and Lindsey Graham is still a U.S. Senator. Very cool!
Last week word came that malt-beverage colossus Mark Anthony Brands had inked a deal to build a new brewery on 200 acres of primo Palmetto State dirt near-ish Columbia, S.C., the capital. For the uninitiated, Mark Anthony Brands is the parent company of Mike’s Hard Lemonade (which, yes, is still very much a thing), and of course White Claw, the unstoppable hard seltzer juggernaut loved by Proud Boys, boog bois, and also pretty much everyone else ages 15 to dead.
The firm’s investment is supposedly worth around $400 million, and will supposedly bring about 300 jobs to central SC. (Supposedly: dollar-amount and job-creation numbers attached to these sorts of municipally incentivized economic development projects are notoriously squishy. Just ask the 13,000 Wisconsinites looking forward to their new jobs at Foxconn!)
Of course, there are strings attached (emphasis mine):
The company will receive state tax credits for the jobs it brings to the 1 million-square-foot facility and a $4.6 million state infrastructure grant. It was also awarded a $1.5 million grant from the county…
The county in question is Richland, which despite its name, is anything but, with 16.7% of residents living at or below the poverty line. So, uh, that’s not great. Maybe these jobs will help—if they materialize, that is.
I’m hoping to dig into this a bit more in a future issue, so thanks to all the Fingers tipsters who wrote in already. (If anyone knows more: send me tips! About this or something else! Confidentiality guaranteed! OK!) Meantime, prayers up that someone over at Mark Anthony Brands finally gives a gander to your pal Dave’s job application. What’s a guy gotta do…
Oh look, a House beer
Oconee Brewing Company of Greensboro, Georgia, teamed up with Waffle House to make a beer called Bacon & Kegs, a bacon-infused red ale that clocks in at 6.5% ABV.
Look, I won’t drink this beer, because it’s only available from the Greensboro brewery (it’s not in Waffle House locations yet, and may never be.) Also, I don’t want to drink it, because bacon-flavored things that aren’t bacon trouble me. (This might be due to the fact that Thrillist’s office was inundated with an endless parade of “LOL Bacon is meat candy <3” type schlock for my first four years working there. You can only throw so much bacon-flavored lip balm in the garbage before it changes you.)
But honestly? I don’t hate it. This sort of #DewGarita beverage collab/gimmick is worthwhile insofar as it lays bare how useless the term “craft beer” really is at this point. On one end of the spectrum you have hazebros doing interstate arbitrage with truckloads of juice bombs; on the other, you have John & Jane Sweatpants trundling to Greensboro to buy a beer that goes with their matching Waffle House tattoos. The center cannot hold, et cetera.
So sayeth Fingers: enjoy your Bacon & Kegs if you so choose! Just remember the bacon boom was not an accident.
“Then 9/11 happened…”
In the spirit of Garbage Day, Ryan Broderick’s wonderful newsletter about internet culture, here are a couple fun tweets, just ‘cuz:
Calling a beer something other than “this son of a bitch in a bottle”? Couldn’t be me.
Faubourg, née Dixie
Spare a thought for @MelissaBW. Back in June, as protests swept the nation over (among many other things) the killing of George Floyd, New Orleans’ Dixie Brewing Company decided to ditch its 100+ year-old name in favor of something that didn’t overtly celebrate an epoch of American history/way of life built on the backs of Black slaves.
The company—owned by billionaire widow Gayle Benson, who also owns the NBA’s Pelicans and the NFL’s Saints—didn’t have a new name in hand when it made the announcement, saying only that it would come up with something to “best represent our culture and community.” At the time, Fingers reported on the online backlash:
Distraught whites were absolutely enraged by the news, maligning the brand, Benson, and “PC culture” with deranged posts on Twitter and on Dixie Beer’s Facebook page.
Among those Mad Online™ was Twitter user @MelissaBW, who had some real humdinger suggestions for the brewery’s new name:
After surveying community leaders, local historians, and rank-and-file customers, and sifting through 5,400 submissions, the brewery has opted for none of the above, instead rechristening itself Faubourg Brewing Company. “The new name is a tribute to the diverse neighborhoods of New Orleans, as faubourg (pronounced fo-burg) is a French word that’s often used interchangeably with “neighborhood” in New Orleans,” reported the local NBC affiliate.
The new Faubourg branding will debut in 2021. But does it roll off the tongue like Sellout Sips? No, it does not.