Cabo Wabo is the name of a chain of nightclubs and restaurants located in Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico, as well as Harvey's Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada and a third location on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada just outside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, and on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
It is also a popular brand of tequila. All were founded by rock musician Sammy Hagar. The Cabo San Lucas location is generally considered to be one of the top three most popular nightclubs in town. But as opposed to competing nightclub/bar Squid Roe (which plays top-40 music and attracts a younger/spring-break clientele), Cabo Wabo typically attracts an older adult clientele with its mostly rock music selection.
Hagar, already a successful rock musician, visited the Mexican town of Cabo San Lucas in the early 1980s. Hagar joined Van Halen in July 1985 after the departure of its former singer, David Lee Roth. Seeking a place for himself and his friends to relax and play music, he convinced the Van Halen members to partner in opening a large bar, restaurant, and performance space. Launched in April 1990, the cantina was initially a financial failure, leading Hagar to buy out his band-mates. Under new management, the bar became popular with both locals and tourists as the town quickly grew into a major resort. In 2004, after plans fell through to open in Las Vegas, Hagar opened a second location in the basement of the historic Harvey's casino on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. A third location was opened in Fresno, California in 2008, but had its license pulled by Hagar at the beginning of 2009. Cabo Wabo Las Vegas opened in The Miracle Mile shopping center at Planet Hollywood in November 2009.
Hagar claims he coined the name after watching a man walk unsteadily along a local beach after a heavy night's partying. Using the town's nickname, Cabo (which means "cape" in Spanish), and shortening "wobble" to "wabo" he said of the man that he was doing the "Cabo wabo." Hagar later used the phrase in his lyrics and title for the Van Halen song. In 1990 he hired Noel Vestri, an innovator in computer graphic designs (including work on Vans Tennis Shoes) to design a logo for the brand, which is still used today.
In the late 1990s, Hagar began selling his patrons a house brand of hand-made tequila he commissioned from a family-owned distillery in the state of Jalisco. In 1999, a wine importer from Napa Valley began to import the tequila into the United States. An instant success, sales rose from 37,000 cases the first year to 140,000 cases in 2006, making it the second-best selling premium tequila in the United States.
Several of the Cabo Wabo offerings have performed quite well at international spirit ratings competitions. For example, the añejo offering received three silver, one gold and one double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition between 2008 and 2012. Its reposado tequila received a score of 92 from the 2008 Beverage Testing Institute.
In May, 2007 it was announced that Hagar would sell an 80% interest in Cabo Wabo Tequila to Gruppo Campari, the world's sixth-largest spirits company, for $80 million. Skyy Spirits of San Francisco, a vodka producer and subsidiary of Milan's Gruppo Campari, planned to market Cabo Wabo globally, with continued participation by Hagar. Gerry Ruvo, president and chief executive of Skyy Spirits, said, "Sammy has done a fantastic job building the brand, so we are going to obviously spend time with him and work with him to continue our efforts to take the brand to an even larger level, both here in the U.S. and, more important, globally." Ruvo said Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Germany and Italy are considered key expansion markets for tequila.