From the Jersey Shore to the beaches of Mexico to the island of Hawaii comes Tequila John Atanasio, a Renaissance man who has taken his passion for living life -- in his own unique style -- and turned it toward creating an award-winning, organic new Tequila known as Tattoo Tequila.
And for a man who learned how to ride a motorcycle the first chance he got, of course, there is a motorcycle component to the mix…and for anyone who knows John, you can be rest assured it’s not just any motorcycle.
On a chilly morning, here in New York City we made a call to the balmy island of Maui, where like any driven entrepreneur, we found John awake at an ungodly early hour and willing to talk. We got the lowdown on Tattoo Tequila and the $50,000 Margarita! Read on and find out what we’re talking about….
What’s your connection to motorcycles?
I started riding motorcycles as soon as I was able to drive. My folks weren’t into motorcycles. So, when I bought one, I wound up hiding it by my friend’s house. So, riding has been a part of my life for a long time now.
Where did you grow up?
I actually grew up in New Jersey. I was just a kid from the Jersey Shore enjoying summers on the beach and the rest of the year wishing I was someplace else. So, after college I moved out west to California, where I also spent lots of time in Mexico. Over the years of traveling to Mexico, I met Ruben Rodriguez on a trip to Jalisco. We became friends from the start. Reuben is like my brother. I mean, if I didn’t meet Ruben we wouldn't be doing this interview right now. He’s the guy that taught me the tequila business. Everything about it, including how to distill. There’s the journey — it really started off from the Jersey Shore surfing to California, Mexico and Hawaii to ultimately pursuing a lifestyle that led me to abandon the corporate culture.
So how did the name Tattoo Tequila come about?
The name Tattoo Tequila came about when Ruben Rodriguez and I started crafting some organic tequila.
It’s hard to come up with a brand name. We wanted to connect to artistic expression, kinda our passion anyway. I wore a few hats back then. While I was filming a Tattoo Reality show that I created, the name Tattoo Tequila came to me. I connected to the art, the Tattoo artists, the shop vibe, people’s stories and in a weird unexpected way, I found the artistic expression I was seeking.
How did the concept for the bike come about?
Well, after we sponsored the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, we got the attention of a lot of people, including Harley-Davidson. They began to take notice of the brand and actually approached us to do a co-marketing with Red Rock Harley-Davidson in Las Vegas. It sounded great, but I needed to come up with our own angle.
We had a bit of a relationship with Fleetwood's, on Front Street which at the time was owned by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. They had this $45,000 Cheeseburger which was essentially, you buy the cheeseburger and you also purchase a custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle along with the extra cheese.
I thought that was a fun idea, and then lo and behold, an opportunity came down the pipe for me and Tattoo Tequila. So, I was looking for a fun angle to approach the marketplace with a promotion, and we came up with the $50,000 Margarita. Now, you get the blood orange Margarita and if you would like to upgrade your drink a bit, you can add a Harley-Davidson customized by you and the artists over at Count's Kustoms in Las Vegas. You know, the guys from the History Channel show Counting Cars.
So, who built the bike?
It was Count's Kustoms, which is headed up by Shannon and Ryan. That shop is incredible and they did an awesome job. We chose a Harley Davidson for two reasons. One, they came to us with the concept and two, we wanted to start with a “canvas” that was a brand new bike. Also having a level of rideability was their first and foremost concern. We wanted to make sure that the bike rode great.
It just so happened that Harley-Davidson came out with the 2019 Road Glide Special all blacked-out with cool pipes, blacked out front end and elongated bags. They changed the look to be more aggressive, and it fit the brand perfectly.
Have you ridden the bike yet?
I haven't. They just finished the bike this week in Las Vegas. But I am heading out there soon and looking forward to cruising out to Red Rock Canyon on it.
In fact, the official launch of the $50,000 Margarita is at The Cabo Wabo Cantina (Sammy Hagar) on The Vegas Strip this month, and the promotion is being handled by our Nevada Distributor - Good Spirits Distributing.
Did you have a hand in the design or concepts for the bike?
Yeah, absolutely. And being involved in the creative process is one of the coolest and most exciting parts of the experience!
When someone buys the $50,000 Margarita, I will personally introduce them to Harley-Davidson to facilitate the motorcycle acquisition and then to Count’s Kustoms for their design consultation. Shannon, Ryan and Samantha were awesome to deal with and dreaming up the bike. Brainstorming with the team was a blast.
The only thing that we require for the bike is that the Tattoo Tequila skull appears on the tank and since Count's Kustoms is building the bike their mark is on the bike as well. But the collector can design it any other way that they want. So, what you really come up with is a unique piece that incorporates things that are important to the collector. It’s a custom bike that's really, really kicked up a notch and you have some of the best people on the planet creating this along with you.