Everybody in Miami has a Chivas Story, Here’s Ours
Written by: Vanessa Garcia
When Juggerknot received the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Grant for Miami Motel Stories, we were excited, to say the least. But we also knew we had to get moving to match our funding. We knew we’d need big name sponsors to take our production where we wanted it to go. We also knew, however, that the brands we connected with had to have a similar ethos to ours. We had to, in other words, sync.
On a sunny late summer Miami afternoon, we sat down with Alex Thaler, the Chivas Brand Ambassador to chat (over a smoked Old Fashioned with Chivas 18, of course) about the union of Miami Motel Stories and Chivas, about storytelling, history, and the connections between whiskey and theatre. The conversation went something like this.
So, Brand Ambassador, that sounds fancy, what does that mean? What do you do, Alex?
I’m the liaison between the accounts and the distributor, but part of what I do is work to tell the story of our product so that the people selling it feel connected to it. To the history, what we stand for. Part of my job is also identifying organizations and companies that stand with the same values as Chivas. John and James Chivas, the brothers that started the company, as success came to them, they gave back to the community. They were the first ones to build a bridge in Aberdeen [Scotland].
So what are Chivas values, tell me more, how do you think they connect with Miami Motel Stories?
Chivas and Miami Motel stories are authentic, working with people directly. We love Miami Motel Stories because it’s an organic way to tell a story and highlight Miami. It’s not dressed up, not forcing people to buy a ticket to something, it’s more about: We have access to this, come experience this. If you tell a person the right story the right way, that story will stay with that person forever.
Love that, it’s true, storytelling is so powerful. So what’s your brand’s story?
Brand history 101, alright!
[Alex places his hands on the table, excited to share]
Chivas started in 1801 on 13 King Street, Aberdeen. It was two brothers, John and James Chivas, they had a luxury food store. The best spices, the best champagnes, the best soaps, the best containers, they were like … cream of the crop. Connoisseurs of flavors and smells and textures. One day, they got a really big shipment of single malt whiskey. Single malt, at the time, was the dominant spirit. So, one night, they’re taking inventory, organizing. And they were like: We got all these single malts and all these huge barrels, and we know about flavor, taste, blending, why don’t we take some of these single malts, and create our own mix, try it out…Then in 1842, Queen Victoria is staying in Scotland, and they [the royals] call upon John and James to be the purveyors of goods for her because she’s the queen and she’s bougie and she hears these guys have the best of the best. And they tell her, we have this really cool thing we just made, it’s called blended scotch whiskey. And the queen says, “I never heard of that, ooh, interesting.” They gave her some Chivas, she loved it, brought it back to the royal family and dubbed the name Chivas Regal.
So Chivas gives and gets the royal treatment is what you’re saying?
I remember, one day, when I was studying abroad in Italy, I went to class with Timberlands, big pants, and a huge North Face coat, no fashion at all [back then]. I’m from the Bronx. And I was sitting in a café waiting for my class. And this gentleman in a three-piece suit walks into the café, picks up an apple, looks at the apple, looks at me, bites the apple, gives me wink and walks away. And I was like: Wow, that’s the type of man I want to be when I get older. He is one sharp gentleman. That [moment] shaped me. That aligns with Chivas. Chivas is the gentleman’s drink. But it’s also a brand that’s very recognized here in Miami, and by Hispanics. Everyone I talk to in Miami, says: “Oh Chivas! My grandfather used to drink Chivas…” I talk to all my Uber drivers and they always have a Chivas story.
What about you, what’s your background and story?
I’m Puerto Rican. Well, if you really want to break it down, my grandfather was 100% Austrian, blonde hair, blue eyes, and my grandmother was 100% Puerto Rican (on dad’s side). When they met in the Bronx, literally it was West Side Story going on. The Italians lived there, and the Puerto Ricans started coming over and it was, boom. My grandfather met my grandmother, fell in love, and they were exiled [from the family], like a Romeo and Juliet story.
Wow, so you’re like a blended scotch whiskey yourself! Which brings me to this question, what am I drinking? What’s the difference between a single malt and a blended scotch?
Think of it this way, a single malt whiskey is like a violinist, a blended scotch whiskey, which is what Chivas is, is like an orchestra, greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a process. It’s complex.
Logo Design by Mix Media Collective. Mural by cr-eatestudio
If you ride down 7th street today, between 14th and 15th avenues, you’ll catch sight of our Miami Motel mural, right on the side wall of the Tower Hotel. It gleams in the turquoise and oranges of Miami, with a hint of golden Chivas. Just like in the mural, our intention, for Miami Motel stories, is to integrate the brand into the production. We’ll even have a Chivas lounge, but if you want more, there’s always the “night cap ticket,” which includes live music, post-show. You might even get to take a swig of that Chivas 18 we’ve been tasting, and sample some of the brand’s complexity as it blends with Miami’s. Because for Juggerknot, the party never ends after the curtain descends. There is no curtain. For us, as good old Shake said: all the world’s a stage.
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