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Sammy Hagar Trades Tequila for New Rum Company

Sammy Hagar
Craig Allen Getty Images

Sammy Hagar is back in the booze business. Four years after selling off the majority of his Cabo Wabo Tequila company, the Chickenfoot/former Van Halen singer was at the Hard Rock Honolulu in Hawaii last week to promote his new spirit line, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum.

Things started a few years ago when Hagar discussed working on a new project with Mark Nigbur, who distills Pau Vodka in nearby Maui. Hagar liked what he tasted, but had something different in mind. “I asked, ‘Can you make rum?,’” Hagar tells Honolulu Magazine. “He said he’d give it a try.”

The result, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, is small-batch distilled silver rum produced in Hawaii and made from locally-grown sugar cane. It’s designed to be sipped instead of used in a mixed drink — a testament to the level of the rum’s quality and, in turn, Hagar’s own discerning taste for spirits. “Sammy has an amazing palate, he knows what he’s doing,” says Nigbur. “When he liked the rum, I knew we had something.”

Hagar definitely had something the first time around with his Cabo Wabo Tequila, which started as nothing more than a specialty item to serve patrons at his Cabo Wabo Cantina nightclub in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. But it wasn’t long before Cabo Wabo Tequila was the second-best selling brand of tequila in the United States.

With that distinction came an offer to buy from the multi-national beverage manufacturer Gruppo Campari. “I thought, hey, I love that tequila, the company’s making money, I’m having fun, why sell?” recalls Hagar. An offer of $80 million turned out to be all the reasons Hagar needed, and he parted with 80% of Cabo Wabo.

But now he’s back in the game with Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, and this time it seems like he’s not selling. “I decided I’d never do anything for money again,” Hagar says. “Now I never do anything unless it’s fun, unless it makes me happy.” He adds: “This is fun. I’m happy.”

How does Hagar prefer to drink his rum? “Three ounces of rum, one ice cube (yes, that’s just one rock) and a drop of a citrus, whether it’s lime, lemon or orange,” he tells Hawaii magazine. “For an added kick, try adding a quarter grind of pepper.”

Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum is currently available for sale only in Hawaii, but Hagar plans to roll out distribution to the rest of the U.S. early next year. In the meantime, to whet your appetite check out pictures from the launch party here.

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