Mark Wahlberg Used to Be a Wine Guy. Here’s Why He Switched to Tequila


Mark Wahlberg just arrived from church. Concealed in the rosy light of Wax Rabbit—the speakeasy tucked inside Mexican restaurant Mijo in Las Vegas—the actor sports his familiar serious look, even while talking about tequila. It’s the Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday, which is happening here, in Vegas, for the first time—two days before Lent begins.

If you haven’t heard of Flecha Azul—the tequila Wahlberg has been backing for the last few years—spend more time in Vegas bars, where the bottle fills shelves from the MGM to the Wynn. I’m here to learn more about the Flecha Azul Cristalino, which is packaged in a slinky new bottle.

Cristalino—which means “crystalline” in Spanish—is a type of aged tequila (like a reposado, añejo, or extra añejo) that’s been filtered, which enhances its brighter characteristics and removes the natural colors it picks up after maturing inside a cask. Flecha Azul Cristalino ages for 18 months in ex-bourbon barrels before being filtered through charcoal. The process leaves drinkers with flavors of vanilla and dark chocolate, alongside brighter notes of coconut and baking spice.

Wahlberg insists that the Super Bowl coinciding with the launch of his new cristalino is just coincidence. But since Wahlberg moved to Sin City in 2022, there’ve been a lot firsts. Major events like the Super Bowl and F1 took place for the first time in Vegas, while local sports teams the Golden Knights and the Aces won their very first NHL and WNBA championships. 

“I’d like to say that I planned it out,” Wahlberg says. “But once [Flecha Azul and I] partnered up, wherever I was at, we were going to educate people on what 100 percent additive free, premium Mexican tequila was supposed to taste like. The fact that it’s all happening here in my backyard, 10 minutes away, it couldn’t be better.”

During his early years as a Hollywood star, Wahlberg was “a wine guy, consuming lots of calories.” But when he realized the health pros of tequila (one study say it has anti-aging properties, at least for fruit flies), he made the switch. Even as he saw a number of entertainment entrepreneurs take steps into the tequila industry, he remained reluctant to get involved. Not because he wasn’t interested, but because he wanted to support something authentic.

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Related: 11 Best Añejo Tequilas for Sipping and Mixing

That opportunity finally arrived when he met Aron Marquez, CEO of Wildcat Oil Tools, and professional golfer Abraham Ancer. “These guys are self-made guys like myself, and created something that is a true representation of their heritage and their upbringing,” Wahlberg says.

He shares a two-person couch with Marquez, the business brain behind the quickly rising tequila brand, who explains Flecha Azul’s rapid year-over-year growth, as well as what separates it from other brands in the category, including the use of eight-year-old agave plants and its single estate origin–which allows the brand more control over quality as it sales grow.

When Wahlberg joined the Flecha Azul team in 2022, the tequila was only available in Texas. So Wahlberg’s job was to “create awareness and excitement about the brand, get people to try and carry the product.”

Wahlberg poses with the other members of the Flecha Azul team, Abraham Ancer (right) and Aron Marquez (left).

Courtesy of Flecha Azul

While Flecha Azul’s quality is obvious to those who drink it, it’s important to remember that people sometimes want a statement, Wahlberg says.

“Very early on, I was like, ‘I think we should have something like the 1942 or like the Clase Azul,'” he says, referring to bottles that are known for carrying a certain amount of weight. “People still want that as a statement,” Wahlberg says. “People work hard. Look at [Marquez] here, he’s a self-made guy. He likes nice watches, he likes nice things. We like to play the best golf courses. We never had access to any of that stuff. So it’s important for us to be able to reward ourselves when we achieve something through our hard work.”

Wahlberg partnered with Flecha Azul to celebrate this idea of accomplishment and authenticity. While he may be the face of the brand, he makes sure the attention always goes back to its creators, Marquez and Ancer. “Whenever we initially spoke to Mark about Flecha, we were just blown away by how selfless he was,” says Marquez, who remains impressed by Wahlberg’s dedication to celebrating the brand’s origins. From the beginning, Mark always championed that it’s not about him “This is about you guys,” he says to Marquez and Ancer. “I want to promote you guys.'”

That’s not an easy message to convey in a world of swipes and likes, but it’s a cardinal distinction at the heart of Flecha Azul. “The advantage that we have over everybody else is that this is an authentically created, Mexican made, Mexican owned product,” says Wahlberg. “People want something that’s a true representation, made by people who actually know about tequila.”

At this point in the conversation, Ancer walks into a round of handshakes and hellos, the type that makes it clear that these three are more than just business partners, and all support a similar vision. He takes a seat next to me and shows me the new bottle, which calls directly to the brand’s name: ‘flecha’ meaning ‘arrow,’ and ‘azul’ meaning ‘blue.’ The deep blue base bleeds into a clear top as arrow-like engravings shoot upward. The slightly wider top, with its metal cap, gives the bottle a natural strength. It comes in an equally powerful mixed blue box with silver lettering that matches the bottle inside, and reminds me of the concept of reward and authenticity at the heart of the brand.

Wahlberg sees Flecha Azul as an opportunity to celebrate achievements without ruining your regimen. “Work hard, reward yourself at the end of the week,” he says. “For me it’s all about finding a balance. I eat, I exercise, I go out and have a little bit of fun. But, then, back to the grind.”

In the end, Wahlberg puts it simply: “If [you’re] working hard, celebrate those accomplishments. But don’t dwell on ’em for too long, cause you gotta be on to the next thing.”

Flecha Azul Cristalino Flecha Azul Cristalino

$110 at Total Wine

Related: 24 Best Tequila Brands of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

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