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Stand-up comedians White, Reymundo get serious about tequila

Arianna Auber

When stand-up comedian Ron White takes the stage at Bass Concert Hall on Saturday, he won’t be drinking his customary glass of scotch. He also won’t be alone.

Joining him for at least part of the night will be longtime friend, brother-in-law and fellow comedian Alex Reymundo. They met the night White would perform his first-ever stand-up comedy show 27 years ago in Arlington at a club where Reymundo was a bartender. They would go on to tour together, then apart, as Reymundo become one of “The Original Latin Kings of Comedy” and White joined Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy in the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour.”

They’re back together in two big ways. Just a couple months before White married Reymundo’s younger sister, Margo Rey – a classically trained singer-songwriter who is performing at the Brass House on Sunday – they released Number Juan Tequila in Louisville, Ky.

That was in August. The tequila – a blanco, reposado and extra anejo – is now available at a couple of Austin Spec’s, the Airport and Brodie locations, and Reymundo and White hope “the family juice,” which has already won awards, will be found on more shelves in the future.

That dream just might come true with the level of enthusiasm and passion both carry for the tequila, a version of which Reymundo’s friend stumbled across four years ago on a trip in Jalisco, Mexico, where a small family-owned distillery has been producing tequila after almost a century of the family growing and selling agave.

The tequila Reymundo’s friend convinced him to fly down and try is distilled by the Rivera family, a long line of agave farmers living on land below an extinct volcano that’s prime for growing the plant. Their tequila, produced at the Rivesca Distillery in Amatitan, is distributed in Mexico, but hadn’t made it across the border to the United States until Reymundo decided it was too good not to share.

It took some convincing on his part to partner with them, but “I think the family could see I had my heart in the right place,” Reymundo said, noting that Number Juan Tequila is distilled at the Rivesca facility (he’s proud to say he’s helped to harvest the agave) and then aged in bourbon barrels.

He’s had his hands in every step of the process of bringing the tequila to Kentucky, Texas and California, the three states so far where it’s available. White joined the enterprise a little later, when he could see how serious Reymundo was about bringing his project to life.

“Alex designed the label, the name, everything,” White, who calls Reymundo his brother, said. “That was always his passion, saying ‘Maybe one day…’ And he did it; he did it all with his own money.”

Perhaps prophetically, their friendship started with tequila. In September 1986, a nervous White needed some liquid courage as he stepped into an Arlington comedy club hosting an amateur comedian night, and bartender Reymundo, not yet delivering stand-up routines either, served him what he’d requested: a Budweiser and a shot of tequila. They were fast friends, eventually delivering their brands of humor together.

“For those first few years, we traveled everywhere together in our piece-of-(expletive) trucks making almost nothing but loving what we did,” Reymundo said. “We spent a good 70 percent of those years together.”

And they haven’t gotten tired of each other yet. In addition to the night of stand-up at Bass Concert Hall on Saturday – where they’ll be sipping some of the reposado, rather than the scotch White previously favored – they’ll be hosting a Number Juan Tequila tasting and signing at the Brodie Lane Spec’s before that starting at 2 p.m. (While they’ll be signing bottles from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, the tasting will go to 7 p.m.)

There, you might catch more of the excitement they feel over their boozy project – which, at the end of the day, is deeply personal.

“I was born in Acapulco, and I’ve got to say, in the last three years, even though I’ve always been proud of where I came from, I’ve gained a new sense of connection to my heritage,” Reymundo said. “I’ve always had it, but it really came out when I was able to be there in the land of my father, as they say, watching and helping the tequila plant be harvested.”