Drinking Tequila with the King of Country: George Strait
The legendary country star talks about drinking with Merle Haggard, his favorite hangover remedy and how he likes his tequila.
What is your drink of choice these days? “Water. I try to drink as much water as I can. And when I run out of water, I drink Codigo Tequila.”
Ha! You are, of course, part owner of Codigo Tequila. Has the spirit always been a favorite? “Eight, nine years ago I started going to Cabo San Lucas and spending more and more time there. Met some great friends there and they introduced me to this tequila that was never sold to the public. I drank a little bit of tequila, but, when I did, it would go into a shot. And I tried to get the taste out of my mouth as fast as I could with some lime and salt. [Codigo] was like a new thing for me. A drink that wasn’t like the typical tequila that I’ve ever tasted. It’s definitely my drink of choice now. That’s for sure.”
How do you like your tequila? “I’m not a big Margarita guy. They’re a little sweet for my taste. Palomas are great. I sometimes drink those. But my favorite way is just on the rocks straight. And my preference is añejo.”
What else do you like to drink? “I like Jack Daniel’s. I like wine.”
Do you like alcohol with food? “I think that during dinner, wine is great. After dinner, tequila is great. Before dinner, tequila is great.”
Do you like to have anything before you go on stage? “I’m pretty careful about that. Before I go out I like to be as clear minded as I can. It’s hard enough to go out there and do a show without having a drink first. For years, it’s kind of been a tradition for me and the band, after the show before we go back out for an encore, we’ll celebrate with a shot of tequila and then we’ll go back out for the encore.”
If the party has gone a bit too long, do you have a favorite hangover remedy? “Yeah. There is one and it’s called menudo. It’s tripe soup. It’s very, very tasty. When I happen to have the occasional hangover, which I try not do, if I can get some menudo that’s what I get.”
What’s your favorite song to play on a bar jukebox? “I’m more than likely to do something by Merle Haggard. Maybe the Texas Playboys, Bob Wills. I listen to all kinds of music, but Merle was the man and he passed away this year. I make it a point to do a short tribute to him during the shows and make sure that nobody forgets about Merle’s legacy.”
Which of his songs would you recommend listening to? “Right now, I’m doing “Mama Tried” and “Workin’ Man Blues” and then “My Life’s Been Grand.” I end the tribute with that song. There are tons of Merle Haggard songs you could pick out. He was such a huge influence on me and my career.”
I know that Haggard was the ambassador for George Dickel Whiskey for a while. It would have been quite an honor to have a drink with him. “You know what? It was. I feel very fortunate to do that. I’ve been real fortunate to do a lot of things that music has enabled me to do. And one of them was to meet Merle and the ultimate for me was, a couple of years ago, I got to sing with Merle on a show and we did “The Fightin’ Side of Me.” After that you could have killed me right there and I would have died happy.”
It sounds amazing. “It was.”
Interview has been condensed and edited.