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Ranking the Famous Men Who Sit at Bars in Liquor Commercials

If there’s one essential you need to sell a spirit, it’s a grizzled celeb spokesman. But which one would you want to have a drink with?

Collage of older male celebrities featured in liquor commercials Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Older famous men are good for three things: calling Martin Scorsese “Marty,” playing policemen who’ve “seen it all,” and spending an inordinate amount of time at bars talking to no one in particular about a certain brand of liquor. You’ve seen these men, in their suits, rambling on about the virtues of clear booze, the silkiness of Canadian whiskey, or how dope peat is. And I don’t know about you, but any time I see a commercial with Ray Liotta or Ted Danson or Michael Imperioli blathering on into the cosmos, I think not, “Should I go buy this liquor?,” but “What would I do if I was on the barstool next to this man?“ Maybe that’s weird, but at least I can say that my eccentricities have prevented me from caving in to capitalistic calls to action, so IN YOUR FACE.

Anyway, because I watch too much TV, and because these ads run all the time, I’ve spent many hours (OK, minutes) of my life carefully considering the answer to that second question, and in turn determining which older famous man I would most want to consume alcohol with. (Please note that the following rankings are in no way based on the celebrities’ actual personalities or résumés, only the personas they present in their liquor commercials. I do not care that Ted Danson is probably a great hang who has cool stories about Mary Steenburgen; I care only that in Smirnoff commercials he seems self-effacing, but maybe also a little bossy. OK, let’s go.)

7. Michael Imperioli

1800 Tequila guys are the worst, but Imperioli is the bottom of the barrel. Why is he so mean?! The last thing you want when you’re at a bar is for a stranger to call you a wuss when you order Jose Cuervo instead of 1800. At least fellow 1800 spokesman Ray Liotta has the decency to call you a wuss only with his eyes.

Also? The whole “my bottle just poured me a shot” thing that Imperioli’s squawking about? It’s a scam! Sure, there’s a mechanism that allows liquor to fill up the bottle’s cap, BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Look at the tape — there’s a shot of the top filling up:

A shot being poured from an 1800 Tequila bottle 1800 Tequila

And then the next shot is Imperioli placing the top on the table!

Michael Imperoli placing a tequila bottle top on the table 1800 Tequila

It’s weird that they chose not to include the part where he unscrews the top and spills tequila all over himself, which is what happened to me every time I tried this trick in college.

6. Ray Liotta

Here are two things we know for sure about 1800 Tequila Ray Liotta:

  1. He communicates only with his eyes
  2. Pretty much everything is funny to him

So no, I have no interest in hanging out with a man who doesn’t talk but who laughs uncontrollably. Imagine this happening to you at a bar:

Ray Liotta holding a glass of tequila on the rocks 1800 Tequila
A man at the bar looking at Ray Liotta 1800 Tequila
Ray Liotta staring back toward the other man in the bar 1800 Tequila

You would say, “Hey, I think we should leave this bar immediately.” Then you’d hear a strange laugh, and that would be it.

5. Matthew McConaughey

Let me get this straight: Matty Mac left the L.A. Forum, walked through a nightlife area — all while holding a full bottle of whiskey, which, by the way, seems like it’d attract some attention from police — and then hiked up a hill to meet a strange man who started a fire? This is reckless behavior; I can’t support it. And if I’m ever unlucky enough to find myself drinking Wild Turkey with Matthew I will refuse to sing for him just so he can do his little finger-dance thing.

GIF of McConaughey moving his fingers and holding a glass of whiskey Wild Turkey Bourbon

4. Kiefer Sutherland

Sign me up. Cuervo Kiefer seems chill. And wise. And like he might bite a guy’s face (or beat up a Christmas tree) if that guy (or Christmas tree) said something rude to me when we were at the bar together.

3. Dan Aykroyd

GIF of Dan Aykroyd talking and the screen fading into a ghost on a staircase Crystal Head Vodka

This video’s not really a commercial, but I blurred the lines a bit because we absolutely need to discuss this. “Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka” is one of the wildest celebrity videos on YouTube. Each sentence is more astounding than the next.

Since childhood I have been fascinated with the invisible world.

Excuse me, what?

A world serving positive projections, wherein you use your own personal, mental, and spiritual abilities to believe, and subsequently make true the things you want to happen for yourself.

What a lead, seriously. In 20 seconds, Aykroyd has hooked me so thoroughly that I already forgot we were supposed to be talking about vodka. But I honestly don’t care.

Also healing! Miracles! The presence of spirits and beings once living now gone into another life.

I am so shooook. Also, in case you aren’t watching along, when Aykroyd says the above line, a black-and-white shot of an old dusty staircase with a barely visible ghost crossfades over his face???

GIF of Dan Aykroyd talking and the screen fading into a ghost on a staircase Crystal Head Vodka

That was the best stock image they could find?

I could spend all day transcribing this video, and I encourage you to do the same. But we need to move on, so let me just quickly jot down three more incredible things Aykroyd says in this video.

  • “But, there is no jar of ectoplasm, and no one will show us the bodies from Roswell.”
  • “We now have a touchstone and replica, which allows us if we wish, to connect to the crystal heads’ purpose on earth.”
  • “The obvious question is: Why did we do this?”

Anyway, you should absolutely wanna sit next to an alien conspiracist at a bar. It will be entertaining.

2. Ted Danson

Smirnoff Ted is great because he seems like a guy who knows what he’s talking about, but also like one who maybe can’t remember where his keys are. I would drink with this guy; he seems like a good listener, his voice is deeply dulcet, and I think he’d be OK with you not drinking Smirnoff. Like, he’d ask you only once to try it; none of that Michael Imperioli nonsense.

1. J.B. Smoove

As in real life, the liquor spokesman you’d most want to have a drink with is commercial J.B. Smoove. He isn’t abrasive, he isn’t rude, he isn’t telling you about a guy in Ontario, Canada, who found a portal to the next world. He’s just a funny guy who really likes vanilla and can summon vanilla-related things like magic. I can get on board with that.