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What John Varvatos Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist;Photo: John Varvatos

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked designer John Varvatos, who co-founded the tequila company Villa One with Nick Jonas, about the “addictive” pistachios, supportive sneakers, and kayak he can’t live without.

I’ve had this for about a year and a half. Now I have a drawer full of trimmers that I’ve used and should just throw away at this point. None of them have lived up to what they were supposed to be. This one is just a great value product. With other trimmers, I’d shave my head or beard and, all of a sudden, I’d have a big dent. This one consistently trims perfectly. It’s also cordless, and the charge lasts so long, sometimes many weeks. I can charge it before a trip and not have to worry about European plugs or packing the charger. It’s lightweight, but when you put it in your hand, you feel quality. I like it so much that I’m probably gonna buy another one or two just in case they stop making them.

These are kind of a hot fashion thing now, but I’ve been wearing these for maybe ten years, maybe longer. They were recommended to me by someone at a sneaker store, and they’ve been like my good friend in the closet ever since. I have flat feet and some back issues, and these are supportive enough for me to feel comfortable wearing them all day. I own them in multiple colorways and keep them in the city and in my home upstate. They’re great for working out and hiking. I’m not someone who wears sneakers with jeans to work, but the all-black ones make me feel like I can.

[Editor’s note: The all-black 993 sneakers aren’t currently for sale on major retailers, but we found them on the resale website Goat here.]

This speaker is fabulous. I’ve had a bunch of small Bluetooth speakers, and this one sounds like a big speaker despite its size. The sound is killer with a great deep bass. I always wonder, How does all that sound come out of there? Because it’s so compact, I take it with me everywhere. I use it at home and at the office. And I take it out on the boat and on trips; I’ve brought it to Europe before and Costa Rica most recently. My daughter steals it from me whenever she can and does her mix on it. I often hear it very loudly from her room.

I’ve been collecting records since I was a kid and never stopped even after CDs came out in the ’80s. I listen to them any time I’m up at our lake house. I love the sound of them and sitting back like we used to with the record and reading through everything — the cover, the inserts, all of that stuff you don’t get digitally. I’ve been a big VPI fan for many years and had a few different turntables from them, but this is my favorite. I have one at my lake house and one in my apartment in the city. Aesthetically, it’s timeless and beautiful. The manufacturing is spectacular. I don’t feel like I’m wearing out my records when they’re playing on this. And the sound is fantastic. As a collector, this is the perfect turntable, especially for taking the best care of my records.

We’re on a lake upstate a couple hours north of the city, and the kayaking is magical, especially early in the morning. The water’s quite calm. It’s nice to just paddle around, go by shorelines, and see the turtles. It takes you away from everything. You can be in a different world. This kayak’s great because it’s high quality and much lighter for lifting out of the water. It’s super-stable for windy or rough water, and the seat’s comfortable. During COVID, we lived upstate for five months, and my wife and I would start our days on these. We kayak pretty much any time we’re up here and it’s warm enough. The morning’s are great, but we’ve also gone with friends at night when the stars are spectacular or there’s some kind of celestial thing happening. We all go out with a bottle of wine, float, and hang out and look at the sky.

I love pistachios, but I’ve never had one that tasted like this. It’s light, has some salt on it without being extra salty, and has that pepper taste. They’re addictive. I could go through half a bag or even a full bag in one sitting if I was really driven at the moment. We always put them out when we do a charcuterie board, and everyone’s always like, “Wow, these are so interesting.”

I got this last summer, and it’s the best cocktail shaker I have ever used. First of all, the threaded top screws off and never gets stuck. I hate when you put glass or two metal pieces together and they don’t screw on or off properly. The other great thing is it’s the only one I’ve ever seen that’s insulated. It’s like a Thermos, but it looks just like a nice stainless-steel cocktail shaker. I can make a cocktail with a little extra in there, leave it, and take it out an hour or so later to fill up my glass and it’s still frozen or cold. All of my friends see it and end up getting one.

I’m not a big cocktail-mixer person. We usually try to have all the ingredients and do it ourselves. But when I’m in a hurry or don’t feel like going through the hand-muddling and juicing process, this is my go-to because it’s all natural and tastes great. It’s not too sweet and slightly spicy from the habanero. We have it around all the time now. When we were upstate this past weekend, I think it was minus 12 degrees on Saturday. We had some friends over and didn’t feel like going to the grocery store, so we just made Barmalade cocktails the whole night. I was the DJ, and it was just a fun night drinking and playing music.

Nick Jonas and I worked with master distiller Arturo Fuentes on this tequila. He’s known as the godfather of tequila because he’s created so many major tequilas over the years. Nick and I met with Arturo in Jalisco, Mexico, and the whole development process took about 14 months. We wanted to create something special, something with a great taste profile, supersmooth, and accessible. We didn’t want to do a $150 or $300 tequila. We ended up with three — the silver, añejo, and reposado — and the reposado is really our favorite. It has sweeter fruity notes of highland agave and earthy herbaceous notes, too. I can have it on ice on its own. I love to have it with orange slices or a splash of orange juice. I also drink this with that mango-habanero mix. It’s like if you have a favorite meal at your favorite restaurant that’s great every time. Every time I drink it, I’m like, Wow.

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What John Varvatos Can’t Live Without