El Bandido Yankee tequila has done the seemingly impossible in just a few years. It has broken out of a crowded tequila field filled with splashy celebrity brands to become a significant player in one of the hottest spirits categories these days, tequila. This feat was accomplished by building the brand around America’s thriving professional sports landscape with multiple partnerships and leveraging the founder’s strengths from the start.
Launched in the summer of 2021 by former NFL player Jim Bob Morris and NHL Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, the foray into the sports world makes sense. Based in Chicago, the company was able to tap into the Midwest market early on because of Chelios’ history in the region – he spent much of his career with the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. But the two men also had bigger plans for their brand, and to attract drinkers they had to look beyond hockey and play to win.
“We entered the market with a gusto like anything else we’ve ever done,” says Morris. “We don’t know how to do things any other way. Both Chris and I are driven to succeed. When we decided to launch our company, we both knew that by focusing on the world of sports, we would immediately be able to connect with consumers and get our product into a lot of hands immediately. Everyone at a sporting event wants to have fun, and we can help them do that.”
A serial entrepreneur, Morris dove headfirst into the business world after leaving the NFL in 1987. He quickly found success and today oversees a wide variety of business ventures, from Morris Packaging to sports betting platform Wanna.com. When the two friends, after a night out, came up with the idea for El Bandido Yankee, named after a line in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they looked for a distiller that would produce a superior liquid to which they could put their names. behind.
They found what they were looking for at El Viejito Distillery in the heart of Jalisco, Mexico. Using fully ripe blue weber agave, their tequila is handcrafted using traditional centuries-old methods by Master Distiller Karina Rojo. The resulting liquid has zero additives and reflects the brand’s focus on producing ultra-premium tequila at an affordable price. Their Blanco retails for $39.99, and their Reposado for $44.99.
“To my accountant’s chagrin, this has been a fully self-funded endeavor from day one. As the primary investor, I knew we needed to ensure our bottles hit the sweet spot in terms of price and quality. I’m a huge fan of Steven Covey. I always have believed in starting any business with the goal in mind and engineering it backwards to achieve the results we want, Morris says. corner. If we’re going to make a splash in the sports world, our tequila has to be affordable for most people.”
El Bandido Yankee’s reach into the sports world may be unprecedented for any company, not just an alcohol brand, to have achieved so quickly. They have partnered with college football’s Hula Bowl, with the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB teams and the UFC. Just outside the stadium at Super Bowl XVII, they poured drinks and up the road at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a PGA Tour event.
They have also focused on the world of motorsport. After first dipping their toes in NHRA, they’ve made a big move into NASCAR by being named the official tequila of Phoenix Raceway. They have their eyes on more arenas and events in the near future.
“We’re here to disrupt the market. That’s what we aim to do every day. The world of racing is ripe for a brand like ours. We’re made for people who go to the track,” says Morris. “We are the official race day tequila and will go further. We came to win and will not settle for not doing so. That is why we are so drawn to racing; it is a winner take all environment that just will help us grow our tequila and the other products we’ll have coming out soon.”
As El Bandido Yankee continues its fiery run, consumers can expect to see more and more of it. For a brand with the slogan “So Smooth It’s Criminal”, they should expect nothing less.