In the illustrious history of collabs between the liquor world and music’s finest, if there’s one pioneer that comes to mind, it’s Diddy — since 2007, he’s been making a name for the brand while setting the precedent for other hip-hop and rap greats to follow in his footsteps as thriving businessmen and women outside of the studio. And to back a liquor brand is an art form, as any distiller, producer, or ambassador would tell you…which is exactly why French Montana’s CÎROC debut is here after years in the making.
A brother and a protégé under Diddy’s mentorship, French is days away from the official unveiling of his latest venture in the form of a new expression within the brand’s range: CÎROC French Vanilla. Here, he chats with Billboard Style exclusively on the creative process, drawing inspiration from the product itself, and why CÎROC French Vanilla and ginger ale is the cocktail of the year.
Let’s talk about how this collaboration transpired — who approached whom and how did it all go down from there?
Well, you know, I always used to tell Puffy about this vision that I had…it took me years to get it across and now that we got it across, I’m just seeing my dreams come true. So I’m thankful for that. Shoutout to Puff.
I’ve always felt that CÎROC was kind of in a league of its own in the vodka world, given that it’s a grape distillate versus being made from grain. How do you find that’s been met by the consumer and critic? And how you embrace that idiosyncrasy?
From the consumer side of things, I give a lot of respect to my work as far as liquor because I’m someone that’s always enjoying life, you know? So just the whole thing with the vanilla beans…there’s only two things in the world that sell the most and that’s white chocolate and black chocolate [laughs]. But me just being the consumer and now the first ambassador from CÎROC to come out with my own flavor, joining my brother Puff…I’m making sure it’s a winner.
So the flavor itself was your brainchild?
Yeah! It’s French vanilla, man!
Makes sense! How do you personally drink CÎROC French Vanilla?
It’s smooth enough to drink by itself but you could definitely do it in a cocktail, like with ginger ale…that’ll be the cocktail of the year, you know?
Any food pairing recommendations?
Some steak, you know? Or a seafood platter.
So you’re sipping this nonstop — in the studio, before or after a show and all that, yeah?
Yeah, whenever we get the chance to. We got the number one record in the country so we’re celebrating. But honestly, it’s always like that with a new flavor, especially when it comes to CÎROC, you know, being my favorite drink. When it comes out it’s almost like…you know, the bottles start disappearing. It’s a beautiful thing. And especially now doing it with my brother Puff…it’s a beautiful thing.
Jungle Rules just came out this month, and the CÎROC partnership has been in the works for a while — how did you balance the two?
Honestly, when God wants something to work out, it works out, man…that’s when you know it’s supposed to happen. When you dream big, it happens big at the right time.
Any insane party stories after too much CÎROC?
Not yet! I might have to get my own designated driver, though. And I wanna tell everybody out there too, you know, whether you win big or small, just always remember to drink responsibly.
There’s always been huge synergy between the liquor and music worlds. How would you quantify that personally?
The liquor and the music industry’s always been one in the same. I feel like in hip-hop, we’re always going out and having fun, and everybody’s always passing you a shot, so I feel like it’s always been a part of the lifestyle. And especially now that I got my big brother in it and we’re dominating the game, it became more. It was always part of the lifestyle but it’s getting bigger and bigger.
Any new projects or endeavors you can tell us about?
Right now we’re about to drop a limited quantity of this French Vanilla. So it’s definitely going right with everything we have going on as far as the music just climbing up the charts and everything, so I want everybody to pay real attention to it because as soon as it hits you gotta get it before it runs out. You can get it at ReserveBar.