Ah, tequila… It’s usually associated with a pinch of salt, a slice of lime and the occasional pounding headache. But there’s a new brand on the block that’s moving away from wince-inducing shots and revolutionising how we drink (or think) about tequila. Cue El Rayo.
This weekend we’re chatting to co-founder Tom Bishop about Friday nights in, his winding down rituals and how T&T (tequila and tonic) is the next G&T. Watch this space…
Tell us the business idea behind El Rayo…
It started with a bottle of tequila my brother brought back from Mexico that was gathering dust on a shelf. One night my best mate (now business partner) and I, decided to crack it open after too many beers. We’d never tried proper tequila and were blown away by it.
We started drinking it more frequently but felt disappointed by what was on offer and thought there was an opportunity to do something different. Many of the brands we came across were very traditional, very macho and very stereotypical.
We wanted to create a brand that reflects what Mexico is as a country today - an unbelievably vibrant and creative place. So we partnered with a young, design agency in Mexico (Toro Pinto) and the creative genius who heads it up (hola Mario) to put this right.
We wanted to move tequila away from shots and sipping with a fresh new serve, so we designed our tequila pair with tonic. We are building a DTC brand so we wanted to create a serve that made more sense for drinking tequila at home - something that was easy to make and easy to drink - long, light and refreshing. Really it boils down to us wanting to make tequila the first drink of the night, not the last.
I guess the short answer is that we’re an example of those stupid, drunken end of the night conversations actually coming off!
El Rayo co-founders Tom Bishop (L) and Jack Vereker (R)
Can you give us a great lesser-known Tequila cocktail recipe to try at home?
A Tequila Negroni. A friend of ours (Fred from the epic Cock & Tail drinks) gave us this sweet recipe which I hope he doesn't mind me sharing!
40ml El Rayo Reposado
25ml Antica Formula
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
As a small-business founder you must be pretty busy most of the time. What does a day-off-work look like, versus a normal working day?
In a normal world I’m like anyone else - I like seeing mates, spending afternoons in the pub or going out for dinners etc. In the summer I normally spend my time watching or playing cricket which I love.
At the moment it’s a bit more vanilla than I’d like for obvious reasons, but still nice. Mainly long walks with my girlfriend and lots of cooking. I love to cook and find new recipes to try out.
In the first lockdown we got into cycling in quite a big way and would do some proper all-day cycles near to my girlfriend’s parents’ house in the South Downs which is a pretty beautiful part of the world. I haven't invested in any lycra yet so not taking it too seriously…
Tom and his partner sleep in Relaxed Cotton in Rose
It’s a Friday night in, what are you doing to chill out (and most importantly, what are you cooking and drinking)?
I’ll be sticking on some records and making some food.
I don’t want to make anything too long and stressful (who needs that after a busy week), so I make a pretty good crab linguine - if I’m allowed to write my own review... To drink, I’m really loving this Fuoripista wine that my sister introduced me to, or this vermouth for something a bit different.
Then I’d probably watch a film. I’m not very good at watching TV but I love films.
What’s the best thing about your home and why?
The sunsets. Our flat faces west and has nice big windows which means we get loads of natural light and when the summer comes around, we get some pretty special long, lazy sunsets over the London skyline.
The sunset view from Tom's flat
How do you like to unwind before bed?
I’m not great at unwinding. I think because I’m quite a good sleeper, I don’t need to be in a zen state to get to sleep. My girlfriend always puts lavender oil on the pillows before we go to bed (Tom sleeps in Relaxed Cotton in Rose) which I’m so on board with.
I’ve just bought a big selection of books as I’m trying to read more, so that's keeping me occupied before bed at the moment (sometimes).
Tom's bedroom featuring Relaxed Cotton in Rose
What’s your favourite way to start the day?
A bath if I have time, at least one cup of coffee and then I’ll read The Times and catch up on what’s going on in the world. I’ll also do a Polygon or Crossword to try and get the brain going.
Tom's Lie In List
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Follow El Rayo on Instagram
Featured products: Relaxed Cotton in Rose