Elliot Tebele—the man, the myth, the legend—is getting into the liquor business. Most people know Tebele as the guy who started the viral meme account @FuckJerry, but now they’ll think of him fondly when they imbibe. Tebele, along with his partners Maurice Tebele and Martin Hoffstein, just launched a brand of spirits called JAJA tequila.
JAJA translates to “haha” or “LOL,” for our Internet friends. Elliot, Maurice, and Martin talked to COOLS over email to discuss the details of their new tequila. Read on to learn more about how these three friends became liquor entrepreneurs.
COOLS: People already know and love FuckJerry for it’s memes. What sparked the idea to get into spirits?
Elliot Tebele: We have worked on numerous advertising projects for other liquor brands and the conversion to develop JAJA came organically. We’ve always been fans of Tequila and viewed the offerings in the market felt way too serious. We saw a void and worked to create a brand that is fun [and] unpretentious. We worked hard in building a brand that maintains the highest standard in both quality and taste. JAJA translates to ‘HAHA” which we play upon on our bottle. FuckJerry was created to help people laugh and we want JAJA to be an extension of that.
COOLS: Has it been tough trying to break into the spirit industry? Do you think there’s longevity in it?
Martin Hoffstein: Breaking into the spirit industry was difficult, we spent long nights navigating through different legal processes. We partnered with amazing companies like Southern Glazers’ Wine & Spirits, Shaw-Ross International Importers and Drizly to help perfect the way we deliver our brand to our consumers, but also to help provide the industry knowledge to succeed as a young brand. On the other side, we are helping these industry pillars navigate the digital space and the spirits industry of tomorrow.
COOLS: Can you share a personal story involving tequila?
Martin Hoffstein: As a group of friends from New York, there are countless amount of nights that come to mind. I would say one that sticks out more than any is when we travelled to Jalisco for the first time. We toured 5 different distilleries in 48 hours. We learned so much in that short amount of time, that we fell in love with the authentic and traditional art process of making Tequila. We missed our flight back home to New York and had to extend for another day just to spend another day with a man named Frank whose been working the Agave fields for over 30 years.
COOLS: Can you tell us a bit more about how JAJA tequila is considered sustainable and eco-friendly?
Maurice Tebele: One of our core values is maintaining a healthy ecosystem in Mexico, and throughout the lifecycle of the product. We have a charitable component where we donate $1.00 per case sold to the Tequila Interchange Project. This non-profit focuses on sustaining bat life in Jalisco. Bats prey on Agave, and is essential part of the ecosystem in Jalisco. They also focus on the healthy working conditions of the Jimadores – those are the harvesters who work the Agave fields with an axe in hand. Additionally, the materials we use are renewable. Over 30% of our bottle is comprised of recycled materials. Our packaging uses no plastic, and only wood/paper corks and labels.
COOLS: The art on the bottle looks great. How did that come about?
Martin Hoffstein: We worked with Emmett Shine and Matthew Haysom of Gin Lane. Together we wanted to create a brand that kept true to the authentic feel of Jalisco. We brought to life the landscape of the Agave fields and hillsides inspired design elements from the likes of Matisse and Rothko. We had fun with our labels, we created a beautiful experience unlike anything else that’s on the shelf.
COOLS: Are there any restaurants or bars in New York that you’d like to see carrying JAJA?
Maurice Tebele: It’s a major goal for JAJA to break into La Esquina, who is known for their eclectic Tequila/Mezcal selection.
COOLS: What’s the perfect meal to pair with JAJA?
Elliot Tebele: JAJA is an extremely versatile product, and can be consumed with pretty much any cuisine. We find it less about the meal and more about the moment.
COOLS: JAJA currently includes a light and a dark tequila, and Añejo is the third JAJA tequila that you guys are working on. How will it differ from the other two?
Maurice Tebele: The Anejo is going to be a richer version of JAJA which is slated to be available closer to the holiday season, this year. We expect it to maintain similar aromas to the Reposado, however, the longer aging process will give it a thicker feel, and the wood tannins will be more evident, making for a really high end drinking experience.
JAJA “Blanco” and “Reposado” are available now for $39.99 and $49.99 each over at JAJATequila.com.