Channing Tatum likes booze. And he likes Las Vegas. So it was a win-win to launch his new Born and Bred Vodka in the same city where he will direct the cabaret/nightclub/stageshow Magic Mike Live at Hard Rock Hotel, debuting in March. He did the deed at an intimate event hosted by Breakthru Beverage at Mandalay Bay’s new Libertine Social on August 12.
“Bourbon and vodka are my favorites,” says the Alabama-born actor and dancer who has starred in many blockbuster films including both Magic Mike and its sequel Magic Mike XXL, as well as Step Up and Hail, Caesar!
While he’s experienced all the European and Russian labeled vodkas, Tatum says there wasn’t a brand out there with which he truly identified. So he and his former assistant, Jack Maloney, decided to come up with their own. “We had no intention of being in the spirits business,” Tatum says. “I also had zero intention of being an actor, as well. Somehow, I found my way.”
The idea came to him and Maloney, now business partners, after they made four films in a row and were traveling all over the country. The duo contacted more than 50 distilleries in the U.S. that were making vodka. “We started to ask why there wasn’t a really great American vodka,” Tatum says. “We went on a search. We found Grand Teton Distillery in Idaho. They were collaborative, and they said they would love to do something with us.”
They decided on Grand Teton, Maloney says, because it felt so mom-and-pop. “There are about six people working there everyday. We fell in love with their story. Channing invested in the distillery. He owns the brand; it is not an endorsement deal.”
Grand Teton’s ethos matched the duo’s vibe, which is more about embracing your adventurous spirit than tuxedos and baccarat.
“I wear a tuxedo way more than your average 36-year-old. I get it. It’s a dream. But it’s unrelatable,” Tatum says. “You should be able to drink Born and Bred in a tuxedo or sitting on the back of your truck with all your friends in the backyard. Or out in the woods. Or out on a New York rooftop chilling out in the summer. I wanted to make something that I would be proud to take home to Alabama and that would be affordable and high quality.”
Part of that approachable vibe is reflected in the design of the packaging of his small-batch potato vodka, which more closely resembles what you would expect to find on a brown spirit. “Larry Vincent and his team at UTA [United Talent Agency] did all the branding and creative. They helped build what has now become Born and Bred,” Maloney says.
“The goal here was to come up with an American story for vodka that was very authentic and original,” says Vincent, UTA’s chief branding officer. “We started with who Channing saw drinking this: the people who he grew up with. People who go to a lake house and open a bottle of vodka. The whole idea was focused on local legends. That led to the creation of the jackalope [character that is on the bottle]. When you think about local legends, it’s a great [part of] American folklore. It gave us a surrogate character for Channing without putting him on the bottle. All of the branding emanated from that. We borrowed a lot from the visuals of brown spirits because we wanted to [give our drinkers that notion that] this feels like my brand.”
Although not planned, the timing has proved to be perfect with Magic Mike Live scheduled to make its debut next spring in the space formerly occupied by Body English. The production will feature a menu of cocktails made with Born and Bred. And since a Las Vegas presence is more typically the reward for succeeding elsewhere, the men are thrilled to get their start in a headlining role.
“[It is a] Playboy Club for women,” Tatum says. “It will [challenge] any idea of what you think [of as] a male revue.”
“We will do cocktails throughout the resort,” Maloney says. “There will be some souvenir things. We want to have some fun, be cheeky—that whole experience.”
So, how does Channing take his Born and Bred? “Straight,” he says, “with the tiniest hint of lemon.”