He’s known as one of the funniest individuals on the planet, but when Kevin Hart talks about his new tequila brand, it’s his entrepreneurial side that takes center stage. After introducing Gran Coramino with a cristalino last spring, the brand has now unveiled its second expression—an añejo that has been aged in American and French oak barrels for a year before being blended with añejo reserves matured in cognac casks. I had the opportunity to sit down with Kevin and discuss his venture into the tequila business, his experiences sharing drinks with Jay-Z, and his personal recipe for success.
Adam Morganstern: What was your first experience with alcohol?
Kevin Hart: Oh boy, that takes me back. It’s buried deep in the recesses of my memory. I’m pretty sure it was something that wasn’t that great. I didn’t have much money back then. Actually, wait! It wasn’t terrible; it was the neighborhood favorite—Boone’s Farm. It was an affordable option during my younger years.
When did you develop a taste for tequila?
I’ve always been a tequila drinker. When I first fell in love with tequila, it was all about Patrón. I loved the reaction I got from drinking it. This was during my early twenties, and Patrón was the go-to choice for me.
What motivated you to start your own brand, Gran Coramino?
Things progressed over time. The tequila industry has experienced significant growth over the past 15-20 years. Being 43 years old now, I’ve witnessed the evolution of taste and the development of the premium market. As my understanding and appreciation for tequila grew, I became a bigger fan. I visited Mexico, tasted various tequilas, and gained more knowledge about the craft. As my personal success soared, the opportunity presented itself to dive into the alcohol industry and create my own version of tequila. I wanted to do it right and be fully invested. It never made sense to me to simply slap my name on something and see if it sticks. So, I took the chance to create my own tequila and be involved in the process from the ground up. That’s what truly excited me.
You partnered with Juan Domingo Beckmann, whose family owns Jose Cuervo.
Juan Domingo is an incredible partner. His family has had 11 generations of success in the tequila industry, and he brings a wealth of knowledge and valuable relationships. Collaborating with him allowed me to immerse myself fully in this space—not just as a participant but as someone eager to learn. I wanted to go all-in.
My biggest priority was to show my commitment by investing my own money. I didn’t want to come in expecting a handout—I wanted it to be a give and take. I wanted to have a substantial stake in the game, ensuring that my involvement would be throughout every aspect. You get my complete dedication and abilities. The goal is to build a successful brand—one that provides me with a lasting identity in this industry. That’s what I hope Gran Coramino can become.
What was your vision for the tequila you wanted to create?
I aimed to address the issues I personally encountered while drinking tequila throughout the years. It shouldn’t require a significant warm-up period, where people are mentally preparing themselves for a tequila shot and thinking, “Oh God, let me get ready.” I wanted to create an enjoyable and smooth version of tequila. So, I entered the market with a cristalino. Although it has been around for a long time, many people are unaware of its existence. A clear reposado? They mistake it for a blanco. Gran Coramino offers premium quality at an affordable price, and I believe we’ve hit the mark. People react with surprise because they assumed it wouldn’t be good. My aim was to exceed expectations and win people over with a taste that keeps them coming back for more.
And now you’ve released an añejo.
Absolutely. Our first release was of high quality, so we had to ensure that the next version surpassed expectations. It involved a meticulous development process—four years of tastings and taking notes. You can’t be afraid to put in the work and say no. It’s crucial to have a clear idea of what you want and not settle for anything less. I credit my team for their patience in understanding my vision for the taste and why it mattered. They didn’t resist; instead, they aligned themselves with my vision and spent years helping me achieve it.
Can you share a memorable moment when you had a drink with one of your idols?
I had the opportunity to share a drink with Jay-Z. You can only be motivated to do certain things when you witness others who have done them successfully. Jay-Z’s accomplishments, both in his career and in this industry, are unbelievable. Look at what he achieved with Ace of Spades and D’Ussé. Sitting with him, hearing about his journey to success, understanding how patient he was in achieving his goals—it was truly inspiring and motivating. Not to mention, we were actually drinking the products—it was fantastic alcohol.
What was the key takeaway from your conversation with Jay-Z?
Your goals can be achieved as long as you’re willing to put in the work. That’s something I’ve always been able to do. I don’t just seek success—I’m willing to do the work required to attain it. Nothing is handed to you; everything must be earned. Thankfully, that’s a mindset that has rubbed off on me.
How do you prefer to enjoy Gran Coramino?
I like to drink it straight. I don’t typically need a mixer or chaser. Whether on the rocks or neat, it depends on the occasion and the company I’m with. I genuinely love the taste of Gran Coramino as it is.
What are your future plans for the brand?
We aim to establish Gran Coramino as a global brand. I’m not looking for small-scale success; I’m aiming for the biggest piece of the pie. When I see Juan Domingo and the 11 generations of his family business—their name associated with a brand—I want the same for my family. I hope that Gran Coramino becomes synonymous with the Hart family. Even when I’m no longer here, I want it to be something that continues to thrive for future generations. Momentary success is not what I’m after—my focus is on the long term. Anything less is simply not an option.