It’s official: Jason Momoa is here to stay. We got the news – plus an introduction to his latest great love – as we caught up with the Game of Thrones and Aquaman actor for a cocktail, high in the sky.
“This is my favourite place on earth,” says Jason Momoa, gesturing around him. “I’m going to live here the rest of my life. I just brought my kids here – I will be here.”
It’s a pinch me moment. We’re 53 stories up Auckland’s SkyTower at The Sugar Club, listening to Jason Momoa wax lyrical about NZ, while we have a drink with him and a handful of others at a dizzying height.
We’re here to toast something very close to the Aquaman star’s heart – a new vodka brand, Mieli, which he’s just launched. He’s proud as punch that some of the first people to get to try it are here right now in NZ.
But before we can get to that, he takes a quick videocall from his kids (a daughter and son aged 16 and 15, whom he shares with his ex, actress Lisa Bonet).
He’s eager to show them what he’s up to – showing them quickly around the room, and out the windows, taking in the birds-eye view up the tower. It’s about then that a group of thrill-seekers outside, who are midway through their SkyWalk around the ring of the tower, realise that it’s not just anyone waving back at them through the glass, it’s freaking Aquaman. One woman stops clutching her harness, to frantically wave her hands and shriek at Jason, before quickly gripping back on for dear life.
“I wanna do that! I wanna do that!” shriek his kids through the phone, while he looks for reasons why they might not be allowed. “Ahh… I think there’s an age limit sorry?” he says. “You know how it is, when it’s your own kids, you don’t want them out there doing these things,” he says after he’s hung up.
But back to business, he’s eager to introduce us to his other great love – Meili. And he knows what you might be thinking. Another celebrity launching another alcohol brand? Jason gets that people might be skeptical, but he’s also not worried – he thinks the product will speak for itself. It’s not ‘Jason Momoa’s’ vodka, it’s just a bloody good vodka.
“The thing is, I never wanted to be this ‘celebrity’,” he says. “When you get to know me you’re like, ‘oh, that bum?!?’ I’m just like any other guy.”
He and his business partner/best friend Blaine Halvorson began work on the project seven years ago.
“I’m a beer guy, Guinness through and through and he’s a wine guy, but we love our scotch, we love our mescal,” says Jason. “We wanted to make something for us and… well, vodka tastes like shit! We looked in the market, we didn’t like it, so we wanted to make it better.”
“It has my heart and soul in it, because no one bought me out, it was just trial and error for seven years with my best friend,” he says.
One of the things he was most passionate about in making the vodka, was getting the water source right. That’s the key ingredient, he says.
“I’m a big advocate for water: I work with the UN, I mean, I’m fucking Aquaman. I have a water company, it means the world to me. We did the Shackleton route, the northwest passage. We teamed up with Expedition Studios and would bring back water sources and mix it with our mash. We had a library of different types: Everest Water, Antarctic Water. Not only that, but I also get to tell the story of the people that are living there, and you then get to understand what’s happening to our planet.”
He says that as a result of the pure ingredients in the vodka it achieves one of the pair’s biggest goals – to make a vodka so good that you can drink it warm and neat. Plus, you’re not going to get a hangover from it.
“I’m serious!” he says. “There’s no shit in it that’s going to give you one. Try it!”
It’s about then that he beckons for the barstaff to bring a round of glasses so he can pour the warm, neat vodka into our glasses to try for ourselves. I’m a bit skeptical. Even though it IS Jason Momoa, I’ve always recoiled at even the smell of straight vodka, but somehow, he and Blaine have done it. It tastes nothing like the vodka I have ever known.
It’s a school night and I have a baby to get back home to, so I’m not game to stay and try out his hangover theory – but Jason has to leave anyway. He’s taking himself on a tiki tour through some of Auckland’s best bars to introduce them to Meili. But sure enough, when he resurfaces on social media the next morning – he sure as heck doesn’t like a man battling a hangover.