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'Breaking Bad' Stars Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston Want Their Dos Hombres Mezcal to Be No. 1 — and They're Using This Underrated Leadership Tactic to Get There The co-founders became fast friends playing Jesse Pinkman and Walter White on AMC's 'Breaking Bad.'

By Amanda Breen Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • Paul and Cranston's Dos Hombres, which means "two men'' in Spanish, launched in 2019.
  • The mezcal is crafted in Oaxaca by third-generation maestro mezcalero Gregorio Velasco.
  • The business partners use a leadership approach honed over years on the set of 'Breaking Bad.'

"I saw a clear opening with mezcal," Aaron Paul, co-founder of Dos Hombres Mezcal with fellow actor Bryan Cranston, says. "You ask anyone on the side of the road, 'Name your favorite mezcal,' [and] they're like, 'Oh, mezcal is…' But they can name a vodka, a tequila."

Cranston and Paul, who played Walter White and Jesse Pinkman on AMC's award-winning crime drama series Breaking Bad, became fast friends on set. So, when Paul suggested the duo start a mezcal brand of their own several years after the show wrapped, Cranston was all in.

Image Credit: Paul Quitoriano for Dos Hombres Mezcal

Dos Hombres, which means "two men" in Spanish, launched in 2019. The mezcal is crafted by third-generation maestro mezcalero Gregorio Velasco, who uses traditional production methods to blend Espadin agave hand-picked from the hillsides of the small village of San Luis del Rio in Oaxaca, Mexico. It boasts notes of apples, mango, local "zapote" fruits, wood and an "almost imperceptible" smoke on the finish.

Constellation Brands announced a minority stake in Dos Hombres in 2021 through its venture capital group, though the company remains independently owned and continues to manage, market and produce its mezcal.

Related: How a Turtle Helped and Hurt the Launch of This Premium Tequila

Last week, Paul and Cranston appeared at Applebee's in Times Square to promote Dos Hombres' recent partnership with the restaurant chain, a trio of cocktails priced at $9 each: the Breaking Rock Rita (made with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Teremana Blanco Tequila in addition to Dos Hombres), Passion Fruit Mezcal Rita and Classic Mezcal Rita.

Image Credit: Paul Quitoriano for Dos Hombres Mezcal

"I think actors, especially, we're used to stepping into something we don't know."

Paul and Cranston's enthusiasm for the brand was evident throughout the event; the pair even stepped behind the bar themselves at one point. They're determined to make Dos Hombres the No. 1 mezcal, they say, and that means doing things a bit differently than some of the many other celebrity spirits brands.

"Celebrities have an opportunity," Cranston says. "They have the door open. You want to come in? It's up to you. And a lot of celebrities will come in — and then go away. You want me to go and work…?"

"Wait, you're not just going to write me…a check?" Paul quips.

Related: How to Be Your Own Boss and Drink on the Job

Cranston notes that "there are far more celebrity brands that have failed than have succeeded." But, like their on-screen characters, the pair isn't afraid to get in the trenches and do what needs to be done. Until about six months ago, the co-founders "were on emails constantly," and Paul ran the company's social media accounts.

"I think actors, especially, we're used to stepping into something we don't know," Cranston says. "Every time we take a job, 'I think it could be this, but I'm not sure.' I'm playing a podiatrist — 'Oh, I gotta go learn all about the feet.' So we're not daunted about stepping into something we don't know. We're like a dry sponge. So we go down to Oaxaca once a year and talk to our people."

Image Credit: Paul Quitoriano for Dos Hombres Mezcal

"We break bread with them. We talk to them, and we learn."

Dos Hombres has 50 employees in Mexico and 22 in the U.S., and Paul and Cranston have personally interviewed each person who was hired onto the team. They want to make sure that everyone understands the culture they've built: "We work hard here, and then we go home," Cranston says. "That's the greatest thing. Work hard, go home."

Paul and Cranston are "very proud" of the team members they've brought together — and seize every opportunity to learn from them.

"We break bread with them," Cranston says. "We talk to them, and we learn. Every time we're down there, it's like, 'Oh wait a minute, that's a new thing. Why are you doing this? Oh right. What happened there?' And then [we] learn about the mashing, the smoking, fermentation, the distillation, bottling."

Related: Comedy Legend Dan Aykroyd Doesn't Mess Around When It Comes to Vodka

Paul and Cranston's hands-on leadership approach to building their ideal company, team and culture is a straightforward but perhaps underrated one these days. And it carries over from their years on the set of Breaking Bad. Paul, who was 28 when the show debuted, says that Cranston taught him that "when you're No. 1 on the call sheet, you set the tone."

"[Cranston is] the hardest worker in the room but also the most immature person you've ever met," Paul says. "And I say that with love and respect because he does the job perfectly, but he has the best time doing it. He loves to pull pranks; [he] jokes."

Cranston says there were a couple of hundred people on set that they felt responsible for, and to help establish the kind of close-knit culture they envisioned, they started a bowling night with not just the crew but the crew's family, too. "We'd take over the entire bowling alley and just play," he recalls.

Image Credit: Paul Quitoriano for Dos Hombres Mezcal

"Down in Mexico, they say, 'You kiss the spirit.'"

The co-founders might not have anticipated going into business together during their early days on set. Cranston admits he had no idea Paul had such a "business mind," though he was quickly impressed by his co-star's boundless "energy" and strong work ethic — and adds that "he's not at all like Jesse Pinkman."

Needless to say, the real-life friends have a more functional business partnership than Jesse and Walt ever did. They also have a lot of fun with it: Just don't ask them to take any shots of mezcal if you run into them at the bar.

"We go out a lot to all the bars and restaurants, and most of the younger kids go, 'Ah, let's do shots,'" Cranston explains.

"It's sacrilegious to do a shot of mezcal," Paul says. "Down in Mexico, they say, 'You kiss the spirit.'"

Amanda Breen

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Features Writer

Amanda Breen is a senior features writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received an MFA in writing at Columbia University, where she was a news fellow for the School of the Arts.

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