Justin Hartley's Plans After 'This Is Us' Involve an Incredible Mexican Destination and Delicious Cocktails

Just one quick sip and you'll fall in love with Morelos, too.

Justin Hartley, agave, distillery in Morelos
Photo: Jimmy Seargeant/REVEL Spirits

Justin Hartley fell in love with Morelos, Mexico, after just one taste — so much so that he's now helping to bottle it and bring it to the rest of the world to savor.

In 2020, the This Is Us actor announced his role as a partner in Revel Spirits, a company producing a then relatively unknown drink, Avila. It's not quite a tequila nor a mezcal, though it's close. It's actually made with 100% blue weber agave, and you'll only find it made in Morelos.

To be clear, this isn't an instance of a celebrity slapping their name on an alcohol brand and calling it a day. For Hartley, it's a passion project that began by getting to know the process, from the soil the agave is grown in, to how the label gets made, to meeting the people responsible for each step along the way.

"How many people it takes, how many pieces of the puzzle — from the time that gets planted to the time that's in the bottle — from earth to mouth, it goes through so many different people that have to have so many different special skills. Every bottle is a story," Hartley told Travel + Leisure. The name itself, Avila, comes from one of the special people who creates it: Revel's master distiller, Noe Avila.

Justin Hartley, agave, distillery in Morelos
Jimmy Seargeant/REVEL Spirits

"When you go to Morelos and see it, it's overwhelming. It's overwhelming. It's wonderful," Hartley said. "Being an owner is a lot different than endorsing something... you care about it more."

Caring more for Hartley began by really getting to know Morelos, a state located in south-central Mexico. It's a place where Hartley says history and agriculture collide. It's a region considered to be one of the nation's most important agricultural zones with rich volcanic soil thanks to Popocatépetl, an active volcano located just to the north, and a spot where the drink of choice has long been Avila, though it was only recently that it acquired its name.

Prior to Revel Spirits, the drink was a specialty of Héctor Ruiz, a restaurateur in Minneapolis, who was born and raised in Morelos. Ruiz's family still owns the farm and distillery that creates Avila for Revel Spirits, though for generations prior, the family produced the agave spirit just for their friends and family. It wasn't until Ruiz met and partnered with Micah McFarlane, CEO and founder of Revel Spirits, that the spirit got its name and a plan to come to market was developed.

Justin Hartley, agave, distillery in Morelos
Jimmy Seargeant/REVEL Spirits

"Justin and I call him the heartbeat of the brand," McFarlane said. "It's his family. That's how we got Revel started."

For Hartley and McFarlane, the love doesn't stop at bottling. They want to ensure Morelos is the star of the show and gets the attention it deserves by creating buzz around it and plenty of jobs at Revel's distillery.

"We want to create a brand and a movement around Morelos," McFarlane said. "In this little state, these farmers and distillers are making the most amazing product in a beautiful place."

So, what exactly does this drink taste like?

"I've heard people say this a lot: They say, it's almost like if the best and brightest tequila made love the best and brightest mezcal, and they had a baby," Hartley said. "It's a very unique, distinct taste. There's a smoke on it, but it's not overpowering in any way. It drinks like scotch. It certainly tastes like Avila, but it's got caramel and smoke. It's a rich experience."

It's a drink that now comes in three distinct expressions — blanco, reposado, and añejo — and now even has a pre-made cocktail option, the Revel Avila Spritz. Crafted with Revel's blanco Avila, the drink comes in four flavors: mango and fresno chili; guava and toasted coconut with kaffir lime; watermelon and cucumber with cilantro; and grapefruit rosemary.

If you're more of a DIY home bartender, the team at Avila has a cocktail recipe to try: The Cuernavaca, named after the capital of Morelos. Check out the recipe, and give it a go the next time you're craving a getaway to Mexico, even for just a few moments.

The Cuernavaca

  • 1.5 oz. Revel Avila
  • 8 basil leaves
  • .5 oz agave nectar
  • 0.75 oz. lime juice
  • 3-4 drops of Peychaud's Bitters
  • Top with ginger beer
  • Garnish: basil leaf and dehydrated lime wheel

See more about Avila, and find out where you can pick up a bottle near you, here.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles