Inside Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rosario Dawson's Friendship: 'We Love Our Girls' Nights!'

The actresses and BFFs open up to PEOPLE about their bond and their new Margalicious Margarita, which they created in partnership with Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits

Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson
Photo: Zach Scheffer

"Who doesn't love a margarita?" Vanessa Hudgens says, prompting her pals Ashley Benson and Rosario Dawson to raise a can in agreement.

The three actresses are speaking with PEOPLE exclusively over Zoom about the launch of their new ready-to-drink cocktail, the Margalicious Margarita — a collaboration they've created in partnership with female-led brand Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits.

During the creative process, when it came time to settle on what type of drink to pick, the choice seemed clear to all three.

"My favorite memories of going out with my girlfriends is going to a Mexican restaurant and getting a margarita," says Hudgens, 33. "There's definitely a specific vibe that comes along with it, and it totally fits our personalities."

"There was this meme that said, 'You can never have a bad time at a Mexican restaurant, no matter what' and I'm laughing just thinking about it because it's true," adds Benson, 32. "Go to a Mexican restaurant — you can't be sad! You get a margarita and everything is fixed."

"The guacamole helps too," Dawson, 42, jokes.

Ashley Benson
Zach Scheffer

Hudgens, Benson, and Dawson are by no means the first celebrities to get into the adult beverage space. Their creation is even part of a handful of starry spirits Thomas Ashbourne is launching, including Sarah Jessica Parker's Perfect Cosmo, John Cena's Classic Old Fashioned, and Playboi Carti's Hardscatto.

But what separates their drink from the rest is the bond the three stars share. "These are women that I love and admire," Hudgens said. "I knew that we would be such a great team to put our heads together and create something that we're really proud of and excited about."

Hudgens and Benson's friendship dates back to when they were both teenagers, the two meeting in acting class. "Vanessa and I have known each other since we were literally children," Benson recalls. They later filmed Spring Breakers together, which was written and directed by Harmony Korine — the same person who penned the acclaimed 1995 film Kids, which marked Dawson's film debut. Dawson later met Hudgens through the manager they both share.

"We're all so intertwined," Hudgens says. Dawson elaborates: "Vanessa and I both did Rent [Dawson playing Mimi in the 2005 film, and Hudgens doing the role in 2019's Rent: Live]. Ashley and I have all these people in common. It's kind of wild and weird how crazily connected we are. We're all in the same circles and love the same things."

Benson agrees. "We're all similar in certain ways," she says. "We're all very driven; all go-getters, and hard workers. But we're also private and protectors of the people that we love and the things that we love. That's why this works so well and why we were so excited to do this together, because we are all very similar in that way."

Vanessa Hudgens
Zach Scheffer

It goes beyond similarities. "I respect these women so much," Dawson says. "I love that, no matter how much time has gone by — and through all the exceptional things they've achieved — that they stay so grounded and so present. No matter what, there's such a positivity and an inner glow and energy that not everybody has. There's a time where sometimes the mask slips with people, and I just never encountered that with Ashley and Vanessa, ever. They're both just very talented, very smart, very beautiful, and very good women. It's the full package."

"We all support each other so much," Hudgens adds. "One woman succeeds, we all succeed."

The pals also all appreciate a good night on the town.

"We love our girls' nights," shares Hudgens. "We love being able to go out together, get a cocktail and see where the night takes us!"

"I roll New York style," Dawson says. "You leave the house, you're not coming home for awhile. And let me tell you, they're down for anything. These are women who you can be in a business meeting with, then head to the beach, chill out by the pool, go out to dinner, go out dancing, get up the next morning, do facials, workout, and then go back to the office to do it all again. In life, you need your crew, and these are women that make a perfect posse."

Rosario Dawson
Zach Scheffer

The Margalicious Margarita is out now starting at $44 for two 375ml bottles. "Full of freshly squeezed limes, pure sea salt, and hints of orange zest with a premium tequila and triple sec liqueur base," the drink "pairs crisp citrus-forward notes with bright agave," according to Thomas Ashbourne.

"We've had so much fun making it — from perfecting the taste, creating the looks of the cans, the bottles, the colors, and everything," Benson tells PEOPLE. "It was a super fun opportunity."

Its name is particularly special for Dawson. "I feel very blessed because these wonderful ladies brought me on board with this incredible drink," she notes. "And my offering was the Margalicious name, which was an homage to my daughter Isabella, whose middle name is Margalita. It's a fun name for a fun product."

Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson and Ashley Benson
Zach Scheffer

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And "fun" is what Hudgens, Benson and Dawson are hoping those who pick up a can or bottle of the Margalicious Margarita have.

"This is just something that will we know will make people happy," Benson says.

"It's so hard to find a really good, consistent, premium, quality craft cocktail in a can or a bottle, so that was something we were really excited about producing," continues Hudgens. "With Thomas Ashbourne, you know you're going to get the same quality every single time. It's something you can count on."

'I love the fact, too, that it's portable," Dawson says. "It's a day drink, but you can bring it to barbecues and festivals; you can share it with your friends, and keep it separate if you want. It's just fun, and makes the whole experience from beginning to end fun."

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