Like George Clooney, Chelios believed he could improive on the tequilas out there.  (photo courtesy of the brand)

With 26 NHL seasons, 1,651 games played (most ever by a defenseman) and three Stanley Cups under his belt, it’s no wonder Chris Chelios is considered one of the best hockey players to ever take the ice. Now the Hall of Famer is focusing his prodigious talents on creating a premium tequila like no other—and he’s done it with the all-natural and 100% additive-free El Bandido Yankee, which Chelios launched this fall with partner and former NFL player Jim Bob Morris. With artisan tequilas seemingly a dime a dozen, what makes this Yankee worth a sip? We sat down with Chelios to get the answer.

What inspired you to partner with Jim Bob Morris in creating El Bandido Yankee?

Tequila has always been one of my favorite drinks. I met Jim Bob Morris at a charity event and after a late night of drinking, we were not satisfied with the tequila we had been drinking and decided we could do it better—we wanted to start our own. It was really a perfect time and place; both of us were looking for a new venture that included charity work and giving back to the community. 

What makes El Bandido Yankee stand out?

It is a very clean tequila, which has been verified to contain no additives. It has an incredibly smooth taste, which comes from the lack of additives and the double filtration process that includes oxygenation at the end. The second I tasted the first batch, I couldn’t go back to another brand. Also, we have a give back program where we work with an organization called S.A.C.R.E.D. in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico to support the communities that grow our Blue Weber Agave. And we have an incredible female master distiller in Karina Rojo, who has a lifetime of experience and has worked through adversity to become successful as a female in a male-dominated business.

What has been the response to the product so far? 

The response has been great. The first comment we get is always how smooth it is and how you can still taste the pureness of the agave plant. The smooth taste has led to our tagline: “So smooth it’s criminal.”

What is your favorite way to drink it? 

On the rocks, straight. It’s so smooth, the taste is so good that I don’t feel the need to add anything to it. 

What can we expect in 2022 from El Bandido Yankee? 

To be in more markets and really expand our brand….we hope to be in 30 states by the end of 2022. The goal for El Bandido Yankee has always been to create a bold and daring brand that comes into the market with its own unique take. We are bandidos with untamed spirit, and we look forward to building lots of excitement in 2022.