Dre London knows to trust his gut feeling when he thinks he’s struck gold. He felt it with Post Malone, the genre-bending, global superstar whom London met in 2014 while visiting a house in Encino, California, full of burgeoning, young creatives. He eventually moved into that house and began managing Malone months later, resulting in three multi-platinum albums, four Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s and nine Grammy nominations in the following years.
London felt it again while working on his own premium tequila, Don Londrés, which he launched in the U.S. this month. “I’d never tasted anything like it before. And it was the same way when I heard Post Malone: I’d never heard anything like it before,” he tells Billboard. “It had that first-time gut feeling of, ‘Woah, am I onto something right here? It can’t be just me.’”
His relentless ambition and instincts of what’s going to pop before it actually does has led the executive (who was named Top Manager at the 2018 Billboard Live Music Awards) to start his management firm London Entertainment Group and his independent label London Music Group, where he reps rapper-singer Tyla Yaweh, R&B singer Mario and DJ/producer Dzeko. When the pandemic shut down the live music industry in 2020, he re-envisioned it with AUX Live, his live-streaming platform that allows fans to tune into concerts, music documentaries, festivals and more from the comfort of their own homes. London hasn’t just been reaping the fruits of his labor – he’s been drinking them, too. And lately, he’s been craving a new taste.
After he stopped drinking vodka around 2017, London discovered tequila but felt perplexed when he only saw people take shots of it rather than take the time to enjoy its taste. Then when Post embarked on his abbreviated global Runaway Tour in 2019, London realized that some developing countries didn’t have tequila to fulfill his rider. That was the hole in the market London says he was hoping to fill – a “happy medium in between the cheap tequila and the expensive tequila” that tastes so smooth it should be sipped and would be available all over the world.
And after five years, Don Londrés is here, he says while en route to the airport. He’s spending his birthday in the Dominican Republic, but before returning home to Los Angeles, London has business to deal with in Mexico. The first major shipment of Don Londrés is coming to the U.S., and as we speak, he’s interrupted by an emergency message regarding the delivery. “As you can see, I’m totally hands on,” he assures. “This has probably been the most thing I’ve been so hands on with since Post Malone.”
Don Londrés is now traveling all over the U.S. with Post, who no longer has to worry about the tequila on his rider because his manager’s tequila is sponsoring the official after parties for his Twelve Carat Tour in support of Post’s Billboard 200 No. 2 album Twelve Carat Toothache. The “Don Londrés Presents: The Post Malone Official After Party” will commence after 20 select show dates in various North American cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Austin, Toronto and more. After those parties, London says Don Londrés will become available in those states. Fans can purchase tickets to the official after party here.
Aside from its availability during the tour, London explains how he’s working on getting Don Londrés sold “everywhere where premium tequila is sold” through his partnership with Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC), one of the nation’s leading wholesale beverage alcohol distributors that’s located in 38 states. M.S. Walker, a Massachusetts-based wholesale distributor of wines and spirits, will be stocking Don Londrés in the Northeast region of the U.S. The blanco edition of the tequila will be the first to arrive this month, while its reposado will be launched in January 2023 and its añejo next summer. “Because of my experience with Maison 9, it allowed me to be able to start in so many places, ‘cause so many people would never be able to do that,” London says. “We also have the plus of being able to go on an arena tour across America and be able to have our fans be able to try.”
The story of London getting connected to Francisco González – Don Londrés’ master distiller – is even crazier than the story of his first trip to Mexico to meet him. While heading to his former client Tyga’s Palm Springs house around 2 a.m., London sensed that the driver of the sprinter van was itching to make conversation with him but somehow ended up passed out in Tyga’s pool later that morning. While attempting to redeem himself, the driver showed up to the house Monday morning to pick up London and his crew.
“I told him I had an idea for a tequila and he told me his friend who he grew up with is a lawyer who represented the González family. I listened to the guy, whom I had just met, went to meet the lawyer the next day, on the Tuesday. And by the next day, I booked the plane and was headed to Mexico,” he recalls. “I was following my gut feeling that this was right. Most people would have not had the guy pick them up on the Monday. They would have said, ‘The guy’s an idiot. I wouldn’t deal with a guy like that.’ But me, I always see the potential in people.”
His gut feeling led him to Guadalajara, Jalisco, where, in a surprising turn of events, he experienced the sprinter driver’s same fate. “I got around the distillery and went through tasting different drinks. By the time we got to one o’clock in the morning, I fell asleep right at the table,” he explains. “[González] said, ‘This is my kinda guy. I love this guy.’” But their mutual fondness for fine tequila didn’t mean Don Londrés was created overnight: London says it took a year of negotiations with the Gonzálezes and two-and-a-half years of frequently traveling to Mexico to strike and refine “liquid gold. That’s what Don Londrés is compared to the rest of all of them,” London affirms.
He’s well aware that the tequila market is already fully stocked with A-list musician and celebrity brands, including Diddy’s Deleón, The Chainsmokers’ JAJA, Nick Jonas’ Villa One, Dwayne Johnson’s Teremana, George Clooney’s Casamigos and Kendall Jenner’s 818. So what makes his tequila any different? “This isn’t a celebrity tequila. This is the manager of a celebrity’s tequila,” London responds before diving into his salesman pitch. “Post’s face isn’t the face of the brand so people don’t think, ‘Oh, that’s Post’s tequila.’ Post is an investor in the brand, which shows his business side more. Also, the difference between Don Londrés and the rest of those brands is the quality. The quality in our product and the taste is second to none. No comparison. Once you taste Don Londrés, it’s over. It’s the best sipping tequila in the world.”
Don Londrés is part of the multihyphenate executive’s plan to make an even bigger splash in the alcohol industry. Back in 2020, he and Malone ventured to the French Riviera to develop the rosé wine, Maison No.9, which the two worked on with James Morrissey of Global Brand Equities, the “leading producer, owner, investor and operator of disruptive consumer brands in the spirits industry,” according to its website, that also supports rapper A$AP Rocky’s Mercer + Prince whiskey and influencers Anastasia “Stassie” Karanikolaou and Zack Bia’s Sunny Vodka. Despite being launched at the height of the pandemic, its sales proved fruitful: 50,000 bottles of Maison No.9 sold out within its first two days of availability, causing the website to crash within a couple of hours.
Then in June 2022, London launched his own hard seltzer called SKRT at Lyrical Lemonade’s annual Summer Smash festival in Chicago before making it available in stores and via Gopuff in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Dallas and more cities. He says within its first two months of sales, SKRT sold more than 100,000 cans of its 100-calorie beverage that comes in grape, lemon-lime, peach and black cherry flavors. While London was developing Don Londrés on the front end over the last few years, he was quietly building SKRT in the background under Liquid Assets, a liquor management company he created during the pandemic to manage his own portfolio. “When I got into the alcohol space, no one looks like us in this space. And I wanted to be able to bring opportunities to people that wouldn’t necessarily be able to have equity in their own alcohol,” he explains of Liquid Assets, teasing that SKRT’s high-profile, as-yet-to-be-announced ambassadors will also have equity in the brand.
Successfully launching Maison No.9 and SKRT became part of London’s “yellow brick road to liquid gold.” “It was only when we started getting into the wine, I’m like, ‘Hold on, alcohol is everywhere.’ It’s a full part of entertainment. How would we be in entertainment and keep drinking other people’s alcohol when we have the finest taste?” he declares, further confirming his expertise by adding with a charming chuckle, “You can see with the Maison 9 if you’ve tried it, we’re pretty good. I’m pretty good at this alcohol thing.”
And that’s because London knows the same key ingredients needed to successfully break out into both the beverage and music industries. “People rush things today, like music. You can’t just put something out like, ‘Oh, I can just make a brand.’ It takes real market research. It has to be different. Everything we built has to be done right,” he says. “You’re going to start wondering why your brand, product, artist, why any of these things will start to suffer. Because you’re trying to take a shortcut. You’ve got to put 10,000 hours into anything before becoming a pro at it.”