“I Could’ve Been Trafficked!”: We Got Wasted with Lisa Barlow


Lisa Barlow

“The first thing you always want to do when you’re sipping tequila is check the legs,” advises Lisa Barlow, the undisputed star of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Barlow would know, since she and her doting husband John launched VIDA Tequila in 2007. But the Ritz Carlton in NoMad, where we met up with Barlow last month for an exclusive tequila tasting facilitated by the hotel’s handsome and knowledgable beverage director Jopus Grevelink, doesn’t carry VIDA, so we were forced to sample its competitors, from Fortaleza (“classic and elegant,” says Lisa) to Milagro (“it burns”). Between sips, Lisa told us about her childhood traumas, The Book of Mormon, answered a FaceTime from her son Jack, and explained her meltdown in Palm Springs.


JAKE NEVINS: You’re coming from Watch What Happens Live. What’s that like?

LISA BARLOW: Oh, my gosh, it was so good. You never know what to expect. You never know what you’re going to get asked and you always think it’s going to be about this week’s episode, but it could be the past episode.

NEVINS: Do you get nervous around Andy?

BARLOW: No, I think Andy’s so cool and I am obsessed with his son, Ben. He’s so smart and witty and I feel like he’s a product of a very comfortable environment where he gets to be Ben. So I love that.

NEVINS: So we’re just over halfway through your fourth season of RHOSLC. How are you feeling? 

BARLOW: This season is our best season ever, I think, and it doesn’t mean I love everything that’s happening or how it turns out, but I think it’s so good. I think everybody’s more comfortable in our friendships. Like, in season one, some of us casually knew each other. Some of us had deeper friendships. And then when you fast-forward to this season, I feel like it’s so much better because there’s depth and dimension to the relationships.

NEVINS: Agreed.

BARLOW: Do you guys watch?

CONNOR NORTON: Yeah, we religiously watch.

BARLOW: Oh, I love that…

NORTON: I love seeing these moments of levity between you and Meredith [Marks].

BARLOW: And the relationships have changed so much, too. Meredith and I can now text each other and call each other, like in season one, after that went away for two years.

NEVINS: I was just catching up last night and you and Heather [Gay] had this exchange, where she wishes you’d told her about Jack’s mission. She’s like, “We’ve been having fun.” And you were like, “Well, we’ve been having fun in a surface-level way.”

BARLOW: Yeah. Compost.


BARLOW: Compost, the shit on the surface. Season one, I thought we were fine, and I didn’t realize she had such an issue with me until we watched her back and I’m like, “I don’t know you that well. We met a year-and-a-half ago.” I recommended Heather because when I did meet her, I felt like she had this big personality.  I literally told her when I met her, “If I ever get a show, I will 100% recommend you,” because Turner had already done a pilot on me.


BARLOW: Yeah, in 2013 they did a pilot on me and I had a restaurant, which hosted everyone from Demi Moore to Ryan Reynolds, Katherine Hegel. We’ve got the liquor brand. We’re young and have these two little kids, so I think it was interesting… Sorry, I’m going to take a quick drink.

NEVINS: Diet Coke?

BARLOW: Always. If they had Vida, I would be drinking Vida. I told our sales rep, “I stay in this hotel every time I’m here. Make sure they have Vida.”

NEVINS: Where do you want to sit?

BARLOW: My left side’s my good side. When I was in fifth grade, I was playing baseball with my brother and he threw the ball up and he ended up hitting me in the face. So I hate my right side.

NORTON: Because of that?


NORTON: That’s a deep trauma, Lisa.

BARLOW: So deep.

NEVINS: Let’s talk tequila. What’s the key to a perfect tequila?

BARLOW: There are so many factors.

NEVINS: I am your student.

BARLOW: The terroir, that’s a big deal in Mexico. There’s a huge difference between a lowland tequila and a highland tequila. A lowland tequila is going to be very earthy and herbaceous, where a highland tequila is going to be more sweet and more fruitful and more flavorful. The difference is, if you’re in the highlands, you’re getting a lot of sun and a lot of rain on the crops, and it’s in the Redlands, which is where we grow all of our crops. So the earth is actually a dead volcano, all of the minerals and nutrients in there are where your crops are growing, so that’s one thing. The terroir is a huge deal.

JOPUS GREVELINK: How’s everyone over here this evening?

BARLOW: Great. How are you?

GREVELINK: I’m super good. I’m really excited because we have something fun planned for you guys.

BARLOW: You guys need Vida tequila. We sell it here in New York.

GREVELINK: My question for you guys was, do you want to stay in the Blanco style? Are you willing to try Reposado, Anejo, Cristalino?

BARLOW: I think for the comparison, we should stick with one style. Otherwise, it’s hard to compare because once it’s aged, it’s so different depending on the barrels. So maybe all Blancos.

GREVELINK: I’m not going to chill anything, unless you guys want it–

BARLOW: Neat is the best.

GREVELINK: What I’ll do is I’ll bring the bottles out, and we’ll keep them here so you can see them in front of you.

BARLOW: Oh, amazing. That’s not legal in Utah. They can’t leave the bottle on the table.

GREVELINK: During the pandemic, I lived in Park City.

BARLOW: So you get it.


BARLOW: Where were you living? We had a house in Promontory that we sold during Covid.

GREVELINK: I had a place right on Bear Hollow next to Canyons Resort.

BARLOW: Amazing. So you’re a skier?

GREVELINK: I was working as a ski patroller. It was the best job ever.

BARLOW: How about that.



GREVELINK: A little bit about the tequila, if you’re not familiar, this is Fortaleza.

BARLOW: I know Fortaleza, yeah.

GREVELINK: The guy who owns it is actually a Belgian guy, but works really closely with these local Mexican producers and basically asked them to keep doing what they’re doing, but was just giving them enough money to keep producing the same amount and allocate a little bit more for the United States. It’s a very earthy tequila.

BARLOW: It’s a lowland tequila?

GREVELINK: This is lowland. These are all wild agave. People will argue whether or not that makes it better. I actually think that farmed agave is better for the environment, too.

BARLOW: I do, too.

GREVELINK: Yeah, and people just think that they hear like farmed it must be bad. It’s like no, actually it’s more responsible.

BARLOW: It’s better, controlled. The lily kills the agave. The prettiest part of the plant is what kills the plant, the lily, so you have to have someone managing the agave and trimming the lily because the lily looks beautiful, but it’ll suck the life out of the pinon.

GREVELINK: You know a lot. I’m very impressed.

BARLOW: Thank you. I love the business. We’ve been in it for 20 years, so for me, I grew up with tequila. We’ve had tequila before it was cool. It’s an upper and it’s a very pure medicinal spirit, too, unless you add things to it. This is straight agave, though.

GREVELINK: If you do it the right way, it doesn’t give you the hangover that most people are experiencing.

BARLOW: You can’t mix. Don’t ever mix tequila.

GREVELINK: We’re going to start earthy. The soil here gives it all these nice tones.

BARLOW: So the first thing you always want to do when you’re sipping tequila is check the legs. You want to see the acid level, basically of the tequila. This one’s got a good nose, it’s not overpowering. It’s beautiful. It’s smooth. It has that burst of agave on the tongue. It’s a good tequila, I can tell you that. No burn. What we want to do is push it against the roof of your mouth and that’s how you can tell where the agave is bursting and how it’s going to be. It’s not as sweet. It’s more on the drier side. So good.

NEVINS: It’s really good.

BARLOW: Fortaleza has a great reputation amongst tequila connoisseurs.

NEVINS: If Fortaleza was one of your castmates, who is it?

BARLOW: If Fortaleza was one of my castmates, it would be Meredith. Seasoned. Classic and elegant.

NEVINS: With the potential to burst.

BARLOW: Yes. This isn’t saying “you can leave” yet, but it’s a beautiful tequila. I think mine is still better because it’s more earthy. But I think Fortaleza is beautiful. I feel like I’m cheating on my baby.

Lisa Barlow

BARLOW: Do you like Real Housewives of New York? Are you loving it?

NEVINS: I am liking it more than I expected to. The young blood is really refreshing. Some of them, however, are so young that they grew up on Housewives and they’re now trying to emulate certain women instead of just being themselves.

BARLOW: I feel that, too. I think the best thing is when you get to my age, you feel so comfortable being yourself. I have to temper myself a lot because John’s like, “I still have to show up at board meetings so don’t be crazy.” I loved my thirties because I made a lot of mistakes in my thirties, so that my forties would be like, “Oh, my gosh. I learned from that.” You value people more, so my circle is small. I know a lot of people, but my circle’s like 10 people.

NEVINS: If your thirties are for making mistakes and your forties are for blossoming into a beautiful flower, what were you doing in your twenties?

BARLOW: I was so grown up. I was born a grown-up. I became kind of a second mom in our house. I mothered my three younger sisters until I left. But my twenties were amazing. I went to school in Utah. Vegas was on the weekends. My friend worked for this guy that had the most elite car collection, so he would say, “Bring this Mercedes down for me,” and we’re driving a 500 SL to Vegas for the weekend. Then I ended up coming back to New York and it was like, Limelight, Palladium, all of that stuff. Me and my friend Nicole, I’m surprised we didn’t get trafficked. We were literally at a hotel outside the World Trade Center and these guys were like, “Get in our car.” They had a stretch limo back in the ’90s, and then he started driving the opposite way and we’re like, “No, we’re going to Blue Note,” and they’re going the other way. I’m mouthy, so I was like, “That’s not where Blue Note is, we’re not going the right way.” They literally had to call the police to remove them. It was a bunch of Russian guys.

NEVINS: Oh, wow.

BARLOW: I could have been trafficked. I could have literally been for sale on a yacht.

NORTON: You seem to be really street smart. That’s what you need in those situations.

BARLOW: I’m very street smart. Monica [Garcia] claims she’s the street smart one on the show, but I’m like, “No, I’m street smart and book smart.”

NEVINS: Who’s the least street smart on the show?

BARLOW: Angie and Whitney. Whitney would be like, “Oh my god. You don’t really like my outfit? And you’re not taking me to a nice restaurant?” Whitney and Angie would be so naive.



GREVELINK: This is the Siembra Azul. You get these vegetal deep agave flavors. This is really bright and citrus-y. I always feel like it tastes like that smell you have after it rains in a desert area. It’s very bright and equally elegant. It’s not as intense, not as much bite. The full maturation—

BARLOW: Full maturation means for 10 to 12 years it’s going to grow with the plant and after you harvest it, it’s dead forever and gone forever. You have to start with a new plant. So out of one pina, depending on the size, you get so many bottles of tequila out of it.

GREVELINK: I’m honestly blown away that you know this much about tequila.

BARLOW: I love it. This one has great legs. You can tell by the slow drip on the glass that the legs are really good and, from what I’m told, it’s at full maturation, which is what we do with Vida. We grow our crops the full amount of time that they need to take to grow. So we’re not harvesting early. This is a highland tequila versus the last one, which was a lowland tequila. So let’s see what we got.

GREVELINK: Do you want to start getting some food?

BARLOW: We can get some food. Okay, this is a good tequila. It bursts in your mouth, which I like from a tequila. It’s almost exploding like a little firework in your mouth. So good.

NEVINS: I love this one.

BARLOW: It’s more on the sweet side.

NEVINS: I have a question for you.


NEVINS: What’s got better legs, Lisa Barlow or this tequila?

BARLOW: I would say it’s a tie.

NEVINS: That’s very diplomatic.

BARLOW: Hold on. Jack [Barlow’s son] is calling me. He’s on his mission. [On Facetime with Jack] Hey Jack, honey, I want to talk to you. I’m doing an interview right now in New York. Can you see me? I can’t see you. Jack, can you see your mom? Oh no, I just hung up on him.

NEVINS: Call him back. Take your time.

BARLOW: [Calls Jack back] Say hi.

NEVINS: Hey, Jack. I’m Jake.

BARLOW: Jake is interviewing me for Interview magazine based in New York. Okay. Say hi to Jack real quick. Our little missionary. Jack, let me call you when we’re done. Did you get anything with the cash I sent you?

Lisa Barlow



BARLOW: Oh, I’m afraid to even drink it.

GREVELINK: But it’s good to have a basic one for comparison.

BARLOW: Yeah, we have to have a basic one. The bottle is really pretty.

NEVINS: Beautiful gowns, beautiful gowns.


NEVINS: Nothing.

BARLOW: You know what they used to say in Mexico? “The prettier the bottle, the worse the tequila.” And when we launched Vida, we had a really traditional bottle, which I loved. But then we designed our own. I helped with that and I love it. So ours has a pretty bottle and pretty tequila. But let’s try this. Another Blanco, not my favorite. You’re not getting those beautiful notes of agave. Okay, I feel really bad. Let me say something not so rude about it because someone worked hard for this.

NEVINS: Go ahead.

BARLOW: Milagro, as you can tell, has some agave notes. It’s heavier on the alcohol. It’s not as smooth, but it’s not the worst tequila I’ve ever had. But I think if you’re new to tequila, start with a more expensive, more beautiful tequila, whether it be highland or lowland, or you won’t appreciate tequila to the fullest. I’d say it’s a fine tequila.

NEVINS: So it’s not a miracle.

BARLOW: No, it’s not a miracle. It burns.

NEVINS: It’s like our control group.

BARLOW: Straight burn. I think it cleared my sinuses.

Lisa Barlow

NEVINS: I have a burning question about Mary Cosby. Is she going to get involved at all this season?

BARLOW: No. She’s pretty much… yeah.

NEVINS: She’s hilarious.

BARLOW: She’s hilarious from a TV standpoint, but from a real life standpoint she doesn’t get involved.

NEVINS: Is that frustrating for you?

BARLOW: Bobblehead. “You’re lame. I’m richer than all of you.” She likes me because she looks at me as on her same playing field. And she likes Meredith for the same reason. I think Meredith bugs her more than me at this point. Mary and I are fine, but she’s rude in a weird way. How they edit it is amazing. But if you’re living it, it’s different.



GREVELINK: It’s fun to now try something that’s considered upscale but not necessarily a very organic, small production. This is Clase Azul. Most of you are probably familiar with the reposado, which is the one with a white ceramic bottle.

BARLOW: The hand-painted bottles. I’ve never had their Blanco before. Can you believe it? I’ve had their reposado.

NEVINS: I’m excited.

BARLOW: I have to get the Milagro out of my mouth.

NEVINS: Who on the cast is Milagro?

BARLOW: Milagro is Whitney. Basic.

NEVINS: What about this one?

BARLOW: I actually would say this one’s more Mary. She smells like this tequila. It’s earthy and herbaceous.

NEVINS: That’s a good read.

GREVELINK: The Clase Azul is really fun. It’s something that you’ll find in almost every high-end club. Instead of having those vegetal notes or citrus, this has smooth vanilla. And this is what people buy when they spend a lot of money on tequila at a club.

BARLOW: It smells like mine. You can just tell from the nose it’s a good tequila. I know it’s a good tequila because I know it’s a good tequila. Great legs. Smooth. Lots of agave notes. There’s some floral notes on this, for sure. It’s smooth and coats the palette. It’s delicious.

NORTON: I’m into this one.

BARLOW: So many people love Clase Azul reposado but ours is better. And I’m not just saying it because it’s mine. Ours is better. Our tequila is also kosher. Holy Land kosher and Passover kosher. So we pay homage to the holy land and my Jewish roots.

NEVINS: What do you mean by your “Jewish roots”?

BARLOW: Well, do you know the whole Book of Mormon? The premise is it’s a Jewish family. Lehi leaves Jerusalem and comes to the Americas and it’s their prosperity that the whole story is about.


BARLOW: And then two sons turn against each other. It’s basically the war of good and evil. Did you know BYU has BYU Jerusalem?

NEVINS: I did not.

BARLOW: There’s a BYU in Jerusalem.


BARLOW: Right in Jerusalem.

NEVINS: What’s your favorite hymn?

BARLOW: I have two.

NEVINS: You could say anything because I wouldn’t know them.

BARLOW: One I love is, it’s like, “There is a green hill far away.” It’s about Jerusalem. It’s really beautiful.

NEVINS: Earlier you mentioned all of the editing wizardry that takes place. Is there a scene that was edited in a way you really objected to?

BARLOW: You know, the biggest thing with editing is not always what they show. It’s what they don’t show that’s the problem. There’s like four hours of filming and it’s deduced down to like five minutes.

NEVINS: Right.

BARLOW: There’s one moment this season I can’t speak on it yet. When we’re at the reunion I’ll talk about the things that were omitted that I think should have been there. I don’t think anyone gets a good or bad edit. You just get an edit of what you did. Sometimes people are like “Oh my god, Lisa. You got such a bad edit.” I’m like, “It’s not a bad edit, you just didn’t see the rest of it.” For example, with me and Heather in season one, I had no idea she had this thing against me. I wasn’t talking badly about her. I actually thought I was being nice when I said I heard she was a “good time girl.” And if you look at last season, is she a good time girl?

NEVINS: Hell yeah.

BARLOW: Yes, yes. She’s out by the pool naked in San Diego. So for me, it wasn’t a dig.

NEVINS: She couldn’t own it in season one. If you said that now, she’d probably be fine with it.

BARLOW: She has merchandise that says that.

NEVINS: Don’t you want a cut of those sales?

BARLOW: I deserve a cut of that.

NEVINS: You probably do.

BARLOW: Season one, I thought we were fine. I left and I thought I had the best season and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve never received so much hate in my life.” All I said was, “I heard she was a good time.” This girl Mary Beth was at BYU while she was in high school, And they have a thing called “Especially for You” where they go for like, a one-week camp at BYU. She told me Heather was flashing everyone, so that’s the only reference I had to Heather in my life. Then it was hard because Heather was so upset about it. But I’m like, “It’s the truth.”

NEVINS: Let’s talk about the glam squad scandal.

BARLOW: I grew up in New York. We get dressed to leave the house. We don’t go out in sweats and we don’t look messy. When I melted down over glam in Palm Springs, it was more about the lack of control. I’m like, “I don’t have control over being here, I don’t have control over who’s here, I don’t have control over what I’m wearing, and now I can’t control my face?” I also think it’s rude to invite someone on a trip and say, “Oh, tonight you’re going to dress in a costume and tomorrow morning you’re going to be at the park doing a team building exercise.”

NEVINS: I mean, it wasn’t Whitney’s trip. Why was she planning an event in the first place?

BARLOW: Whitney’s takeover didn’t turn out to be that great. I can enjoy drag. We went to a drag bar and had the best time.

NEVINS: What would be your lip sync song?

BARLOW: Oh, that’s a good one. You know what song I have on repeat on my phone? Billy Joel’s “Honesty,” but that’s not even a good drag song. I think I would do Celine Dion.

NEVINS: “I Drove All Night.”

BARLOW: That’s one of them I could do. But for drag, I feel like it has to be iconic, so I would do Christina Aguilera “Dirrty.”

NEVINS: Let’s talk Monica.

BARLOW: It was so much worse in person. They gave her such a good edit. You guys have to wait to see this but basically I’m like. “I think you were jealous of your mom, you sat there and pouted and you hated that your mom got along with everybody.” She was having fun with your kids, my kids, everybody’s kids, and you were jealous because your mom fit in better than you did. She came with a chip on her shoulder.

NEVINS: Do we think Monica gets brought back for another season?

BARLOW: Um, it’s up to Bravo. I mean, I’m not Bravo.



BARLOW: This brand has been around for 18 years.

GREVELINK: The cool thing about them is that they had such a successful marketing campaign, so we carry this in almost all the José Andrés restaurants. The thing that sells the most is their reposado, because they age their reposado. They call it “Reposado Rosado.”

BARLOW: I remember when they came out with that in like, 2009. It’s got a good nose. The nose is serious. Decent legs. Let’s go in for the sip. [Drinks] It’s definitely earthy. You get a lot of the earthy tones, but there’s still that really floral flavor you get from the agave. It’s better than the Milagro. I wouldn’t put it up against your Fortaleza, but it’s good. It’s solid. It has that bite.

NEVINS: Bite. That’s a better word for it.

BARLOW: Yeah, that kick.

NEVINS: When you say the legs, what exactly are you looking at?.

BARLOW: You get a slow drip from the oils in the tequila and if the drip is fast and not slow, it’s not as balanced.

NEVINS: Oh, I see.

NEVINS: Tell us about your WWHL look.

BARLOW: This is Raisa Vanessa with a Tom Ford tank, Saint Laurent jeans, and Tom Ford shoes.

NEVINS: Get the shoes.

BARLOW: These jeans aren’t tailored yet because they had them brought over to my hotel room. I feel like they look weird on camera. I brought a full Schiaparelli look. A lot of people don’t know Schiaparelli but I’m obsessed with them. I want all their blazers.

NORTON: Who’s the best-dressed housewife?

BARLOW: Marlo [Hampton]. I know everything she’s wearing. I’m like, “That’s 50 Gs. That’s 60 Gs. That’s 30 Gs.” She is tricked out in head-to-toe designer. I like the way I dress. I like a more street chic look. But Marlo always looks so beautiful.

NORTON: What’s your reunion look?

BARLOW: My outfit actually just came from Poland. It’s so sick.

NEVINS: Wait. What’s in Poland?

BARLOW: The best designers. But this outfit is so different. When Andy asked me about reunion looks, I’m sick of the prom queen stuff. It’s so cheesy.

NEVINS: So gauche.

BARLOW: Gauche, yes. [Laughs]. We’re Jewish. It’s so tacky. And then we always get our color when they’re out of season, so I’m like, “I’m supposed to wear the ugliest dress ever?”

NORTON: I liked your dress last reunion.

BARLOW: My purple dress. And you know who wore it? George Clooney’s wife, the week before.


BARLOW: Two weeks before, Amal wore my dress in white and I got the exact same dress in purple. I didn’t try it on and it almost didn’t fit me. It was so tight. It was crazy.



GREVELINK: This is Marcus Jordan’s tequila.

BARLOW: Oh, I’m friends with Marcus Jordan. I met Marcus in Italy. It’s the best story. He literally just messaged me, he’s like, “I can’t wait to see you guys at BravoCon.” So I have to take a picture and send this to Marcus.

GREVELINK: The cool thing is that Marcus Jordan spent over 10 years slowly gathering the resources. Because you can’t just walk in with a bunch of money and buy the best juice in Mexico. No matter what kind of money you have, you really have to win the respect of the locals that are making this tequila, because it’s so tradition-driven.

BARLOW: He had multiple farms. So he doesn’t just farm in one place. He buys from multiple farmers.

GREVELINK: Exactly. And just like your best wine producers are in places like Porto and Burgundy, they have master tasters, master distillers, that pick the blends and blend them together. This one is the Blanco.

BARLOW: It’s so hard in Mexico to be able to make tequila. It’s not like gin where you can make it in your bathroom. So, we have the best master distiller in Mexico. Ours is regarded as the number one. And we stole him from Cazadores, which used to be the best tequila.