When my boss said I could choose between attending a boring meeting or drinking a margarita handcrafted by Kevin Hart—well, that’s why I’m filing this story from the bar at Mi Vida on 14th street. Hart has apparently come to town for a show tonight at Capital One Arena. But having just launched his new tequila brand, he was planning to bop around town on a promotional junket first, and we got a tip that he’d be bartending at Mi Vida this afternoon.
Unfortunately, as soon as I slapped my notebook onto the bar, a marketing person swooped over and told me Hart had just canceled. “It’s a medical—” she said, gesturing vaguely to her throat. Oof. Off to the boring meeting, after all. But then she presented me with a menu of Kevin Hart branded tequila drinks, and, you know, journalistic responsibility and such. Anyway, I ordered “the Hustle,” a cloyingly sweet Kevin Hart tequila drink with agave, bitters, and lime. After downing that, I had a shot, just to get the full effect.
Is Kevin Hart’s tequila good? Well, I don’t know. It tastes like tequila. If my youth were a Venn diagram, “energetic enough to order tequila” and “able to afford nice drinks” are two circles that don’t overlap, so I never developed any taste. “An oaky sweet tequila with a crisp mouthfeel,” is one baffling description of Kevin Hart’s tequila that I read online. I’m not a food writer. Our food writers were busy. But this stuff seems expensive, so glean from that what you will.
Kevin Hart’s tequila is called Gran Coramino—the name, at least, rolls off the tongue. Its glass bottle looks a little architectural, like a skyscraper you’d find in Dubai. According to the website, Gran Coramino is a collaboration with “11th-generation tequila maker” Juan Domingo Beckmann, who is not exactly an artisan—from a cursory Google, “CEO of José Cuervo” appears to be his more prosaic title. Their tequila’s tagline is “Hard work tastes good,” and the featured drinks are accordingly named the Hustle, the Grit, and the Grind, a buzzword salad that reads like a time capsule from 2019, before the Great Resignation, the era of Quiet Quitting, etc.
The last time “someone’s tequila brand” breached the placid surface of my life was on election day, 2020, when I was a poll worker in Queens. The cop stationed at our precinct happened to moonlight as a tequila-preneur, and throughout our 17-hour day of aiding the likely infectious with their ballots, he repeatedly cornered me to describe his smooth and delectable brand. Legally speaking, it wasn’t even tequila, since he wasn’t making it in the right part of Mexico. But he nonetheless kept shoving his phone in my face. Who wants to look at pictures of knockoff tequila? Well, maybe Kevin Hart, but he didn’t show up for me to ask.
It’s clear to me why a middle-aged cop would start a tequila brand—it’s one way to try to score a date with the exhausted poll workers of Queens. But Kevin Hart? The celebrity tequila scene is laughably claustrophobic: Clooney’s done it. Timberlake. Nick Jonas and the Rock. A guy at the bar says Kendall Jenner has a tequila. Diddy and Santana, too. So why would Kevin Hart try to elbow his way in? At Mi Vida, the popular theory is “cash grab.” Bourbon, I guess, is passé—but tequila is selling like hotcakes. America is waxed, vaxxed, and ready for celebrity-branded tequila shots: “If you’re in the position to take advantage of that, why not?” one guy said.
As for me? I missed my 2 pm meeting. I’m currently three drinks in. I have no opinion on Kevin Hart tequila, but I did finish my workweek at a bar. So I can tell you firsthand that hard work tastes good.