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OUTSIDE Mexico (and especially in America) tequila too often fuels vomity studen

t parties and spring-break shooting sessions. But recently various brands have t
ried to market the drink as a more sophisticated tipple. Among them is Patrn, who
se individually numbered bottles sell for between $45 and $500.
In this section
Where thinking is king
Broken
The inevitable crash
Bottoms up
Nature s banker
Reprints
Though its name is evocative of old Mexico, the brand was started in 1989 by a p
air of gringos: John Paul DeJoria and the late Martin Crowley. Now, Ilana Edelst
ein, Crowley s former partner, has written an account of the brand s rise.
In Jalisco, Mexico s prime agave country, Crowley chanced upon a distillery whose
tequila knocked his socks off. Ms Edelstein admits that neither she nor Crowley,
who was recovering from bankruptcy, knew anything about the drinks business indee
d, when it came to tequila she couldn t be anywhere near the stuff without heaving .
But they copied the perfume industry and promptly designed some swanky packaging
.
The celebrity contacts of Mr DeJoria, who had made a fortune in the hair-care bu
siness, helped to get the bottle seen at the right parties in Los Angeles. Thoug
h it is still rather looked down on in Mexico (it was not sold there at all unti
l relatively recently), Patrn has become the second-best selling brand in America
, partly thanks to its following among high-rolling hip-hop stars. It is also gr
owing fast in the Far East.
Ms Edelstein s account is short on business wisdom but long on the sometimes seedy
details of the booze business. Her unofficial role in the operation concerned m
ainly marketing, including designing the skimpy outfits of the promotional Patrn G
irls , who were recruited first from Las Vegas escort agencies and later from Play
boy s Playmates. She seems to have little access to the business nowadays; Mr DeJo
ria has written a (slightly wary) foreword and the quotes from other key people
are lifted from newspaper interviews. A chapter of historical padding comes from
Wikipedia and other websites, according to the notes at the back of the book.
Perhaps the best, inadvertent advice to entrepreneurs is to get your name on the
business s documents, or at least on a marriage certificate. Despite pouring year
s of her life into Patrn, Ms Edelstein was left with nothing when her relationshi
p with Crowley blew up in spectacular style in 2001. She lost a case for compens
ation and was thrown out of the couple s California mansion (where the koi carp we
re left to starve). Though she is admirably upbeat about the experience, it soun
ds like the recipe for quite a hangover.

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