Going for Gold


Photos by Brevin Blach

Rappers have taught us a lot over the years. Like when it gets hot inside the club, by all means, take off all your clothes. Or that if you start making good money, get ready for a significant increase in problems. More than anything, rappers teach us how to get tipsy in the most luxurious way. (Well, except for Lil Wayne, whose penchant for cough syrup and soda may have led to an increase in Robitussin sales and calls to poison control.)

Mark Scialdone is hoping to break into that world of glamorous alcohol consumption with the creation of Cartel Tequila, a thrice-distilled tequila made from 100-percent blue agave that has flecks of gold or silver in its intoxicating waters.

“It’s the ultimate baller drink,” says Scialdone, a former venture capitalist who decided to take a shot at the tequila industry after buying the patent for suspending objects in drinks.* “It needs to be in rap songs and videos. Luckily, a lot of words rhyme with ‘cartel.’”

Unlike those in Goldschlager-that other alcohol that has gold flecks on its list of ingredients-Cartel’s fine metals float instead of sinking to the bottom of the glass, which, if you ask Scialdone, makes his drink infinitely more fabulous.

Scialdone believes Cartel Tequila fills a void in the upscale drink world because it has “allure” and “sexiness.” Sure, you can order a bottle of Cristal and look pretty pimp, but there’s nothing quite like actual gold to get the gold diggers in a tizzy.

“There hasn’t been a new luxury tequila since Patrón. Nothing else has that status and image,” says Scialdone. “With a name like Cartel, we definitely keep it gangsta. And with its look, people are going to say ‘What is that?’ That’s what we want. It’s cool to order and cool to drink.”

Scialdone is planning to launch Cartel Tequila at liquor stores, bars and clubs in Florida and California within the next few months. (Retail price: $59 a bottle.) He’s already secured reggaeton sensation Daddy Yankee’s endorsement and thinks other Latino stars will love the drink since it appeals to their high-end lifestyle and culture.

If not, Scialdone wants to remind everyone of one little-known factoid.

“Did you know the hairstylist Paul Mitchell owns Patrón?” he says. “I mean, do you really want a hairstylist making your tequila?”

-Alex Zaragoza