As the longtime companion of Martin Crowley — one half of the partnership behind the Patrón tequila empire — Ilana Edelstein was not only witness to a fantastic success story, she was a silent partner in it.
“I was involved every step of the way, from designing to setting up the whole corporation,” Edelstein told The Argonaut in June 2013 shortly after the release of her memoir, “The Patrón Way: From Fantasy to Fortune – Lessons on Taking Any Business from Idea to Iconic Brand.”
To make a long story short: Edelstein had met Crowley at a friend’s wine-tasting event on Pacific Avenue, and a month later Crowley met John Paul DeJoria, with whom he would partner on Patrón after Crowley discovered a tequila factory in Atotonilco El Alto, Mexico, in 1989.
“He took their whole supply [5,000 cases],” Edelstein recalled. “He came up with the name, the label. We had no idea what we were getting into.”
In the most unorthodox of ways, Patrón muscled its boutique brand into the marketplace by pouring the upscale tequila into L.A.’s celebrity bloodstream at wild Hollywood parties. Five years later, Crowley and Edelstein relocated from the Marina Peninsula to Montecito, ushering in “a very dark period”: an acrimonious split and three-month courtroom battle ended only by Crowley’s abrupt death.
In 2008, Bacardi reached a deal with DeJoria, reportedly paying $500 million for his stake in Patrón Spirits Company.
In 2011, Edelstein visited Marina del Rey once again and began committing her story to print with the encouragement of a friend.
The rest, as they say, is history.
— Michael Aushenker