Sammy Hagar Talks Rum, Restaurants, Vegan Food And Van Halen
Sammy Hagar was in town on Friday to promote his new rum, Beach Bar. When I caught up with him at his local Cabo Wabo Cantina, he was hanging out with his good friend Emeril Lagasse. And as someone who has spent most of my life covering either music or food, it couldn’t have been a better atmosphere.
Here are some excerpts from my interview with Sammy – and some pictures. If some of these quotes sound familiar, you may have heard them on your local rock radio station. I still do a lot of stringing for ABC News Radio, and they were kind enough to take this interview and help spread the word.
What makes this rum so special?
I hate to hype anything. Just drink the damn stuff and you tell me. It’s so good. There’s a guy in Hawaii who came up to me, and said — he made the best vodka I’d ever tasted in my life – and I said “Can you make rum?” Just out of the blue. And he said, “Yeah, I’ll make you the best rum you ever tasted in your life.” And he did.
I think the secret is that it’s made with pure cane sugar from Hawaii. Because if you go to other parts of the world, most of the sugarcane fields are really beat up. And they have funky equipment, like a tractor that’s blowing smoke and dripping oil, and gasoline popping out of the tank because they don’t even have a gas cap on it. And they’re just stinking the fields up, you know. And this is such pristine sugar. And he has one little trick in the way he makes it. He makes it smell and taste like crème brulee. And everybody goes “Oh that’s easy, just burn sugar.” Well yeah, but try it.
Are you going to expand your Beach Bar & Grills?
Oh yeah. I’m going to expand the Beach Bar & Grills more than Cabo Wabo. You see Cabo Wabo for me is a destination for my fans to come and party. And it’s not really very family-oriented. And as I get older and my kids start getting bigger, and every time in Cabo when we’re down there my little 10-year-old daughter will go “Daddy I want to go to Cabo Wabo.” And I go “Well honey, you’re gonna see titties and stuff!”
So I think the Beach Bar & Grill is much more of a family place. And then I’ll augment that a little bit in certain cities, a bigger version. We’ll call it Sammy’s Rockin’ Beach Bar & Grill and they’ll have live music on weekends and stuff. So I’m kind of thinking about day-parting it and having it be a family place all the way up through dinner. Then about ten or eleven o’clock at night a band starts playing and people start throwing down and getting crazy. Because my fans want to party, but also a lot of them got kids and I want their kids to be welcome.
I have one suggestion for you. I was at a Beach Bar & Grill in an airport one time. And my wife and I were going vegan one day a week last year. And you didn’t have a single veggie burger. You had a ton of burgers, but nothing veggie.
I’m so sorry about that vegan thing. I’m not a vegan. And I wouldn’t put anything on the menu that I wouldn’t eat myself. So I guess we got a salad on there for you.
We went with guacamole.
It’s tough. And the chips are cooked, but at least they’re fried in vegetable oil so you’re OK there.
Do you have plans to expand to making any other types of alcohol?
Right now I’m just doing this. I would love to make a beer. Because I only want to make things that I think I can do better. Like for instance, tequila, when I made Cabo Wabo tequila, when I started that way back then there weren’t very many good tequilas. Now there’s a million of them.
So everybody says “Well do you wanna make fine wine?” Well shoot, if I could make a better fine wine than La Tache and Romanee Conti and Richebourg and Cheval Blanc and these guy, I would. But I can’t. So I’m not gonna bother with that. But I think I can make a better beer than some of the beers that are on the market. And I could probably make a better … I don’t know burger? (LAUGHS) I know I can make some good tacos.
You’ve been a little vocal about Van Halen making a new record. Anything you want to add?
No. I think it’s’ great that they finally made a record for the fans. The fans deserved a record about 20 years ago, or however long it’s been. (LAUGHS) They deserved about ten records in that amount of time. And so I’m happy for the fans, that they gave them something. I think they could have done a better job. But that’s none of my business.