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July 29, 2014

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Q+A: George Clooney talks Las Vegas memories, Italy and his Casamigos tequila

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George Clooney at Hyde Bellagio on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Las Vegas.

George Clooney at Hyde Bellagio

George Clooney at Hyde Bellagio on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
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Robin Leach and George Clooney at Hyde Bellagio on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Casamigos Tequila

The good news, ladies, is that Hollywood’s No. 1 bachelor George Clooney is still single for now, although models and Pretty Young Things mobbed him when he partied at Hyde Bellagio last week.

There was no sign of a girlfriend — old or new — on his arm, although he is rumored to be dating 36-year-old British lawyer Amal Alamuddin. Certainly no sign of most recent love mate Stacy Keibler from “Dancing With the Stars” (she wed Jared Pobre this year, and the couple is expecting a baby girl) or former gal pal Ghost Bar at the Palms cocktail server Sarah Larson.

George took Amal to the White House for President Obama’s screening of his film “Monuments Men” and then on to a tropical vacation to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

The handsome Oscar-winning actor who will turn 53 on May 6 is no stranger to Las Vegas, although, once I’d fought through the crowd, he told me: “I don’t get here as often anymore.”

He’s no stranger, though, to our Entertainment Capital of the World with his trilogy “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen” box office successes. George told me that he was here many times before film and TV stardom with his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, who performed here.

“It’s not the same city today that I remember way back when,” he said. “I came fairly often. Then it was an oasis in the desert, the great outdoors and a few hotels. Now it’s built up with more hotels but less solo stars.

“Times certainly change. I was always happy though when I came here — and now there’s a lot more fun to choose from.”

George was with his Casamigos tequila partners, nightlife czar Rande Gerber (his wife is supermodel Cindy Crawford) and business partner Mike Meldman. They were in town for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America convention and meetings with their distributor, Southern Wine & Spirits. Talk show titan Oprah Winfrey says Casamigos is her favorite tequila.

Their party was at Hyde to celebrate their deal with the new SLS Hotel opening Labor Day Weekend. Owner Sam Nazarian challenged all his hotel and nightclub ultra lounge bartenders to create a Casamigos pomegranate cocktail for his designer Philippe Starck’s wife, Jasmine.

George and Rande believe that they tested 500 tequilas before settling on the creation of Casamigos: “Our idea was to make the best-tasting, smoothest tequila around whose taste didn’t have to be covered up with salt or lime. So we did. We love tequila — on the rocks, by the shot and at times straight from the bottle.

“Casamigos was born through tequila-filled nights with friends. Casamigos was created out of our desire to have the perfect tequila. It was never intended as a product we would release to the public. It’s all we serve at our homes in Mexico, so it’s literally our house tequila. We are delighted that consumers and tequila connoisseurs alike enjoy our award-winning spirit.

“We worked on the creation of Casamigos with our master distiller in Jalisco, Mexico, for years and held many blind tastings until we knew we got it right. We’ve been drinking our tequila with friends and family for over five years now.”

In the crush of the melee trying to touch George, get close to him and snap selfies, he and I still managed to talk about our mutual love for Italy where I go every summer. He has a home on spectacular Lake Como outside Milan toward the border with Switzerland.

Thanks to a couple of Casamigos tastings, I had the courage to ask him for some restaurant recommendations for my annual visit in July. George told me several of his favorites and said he’d be there at the same time.

“You’ll know where I am. The news of where I go gets around pretty fast there for obvious reasons,” he laughed. Maybe we’ll dine the same night at the candlelight Il Gatto Nero (The Black Cat) high up in the village of Cernobbio with extraordinary panoramic views of the Italian lakes.

Meantime, George and Rande have teamed up with our Keep Memory Alive founder Larry Ruvo to auction a dinner they’ll host in their Cabo San Lucas home when we hold our Power of Love gala saluting Gloria Estefan at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 26.

Doubtless there will be Casamigos tequila galore. And who knows if George is still single. Maybe one lucky lady might win the bid — and him, finally!

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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