Gin and Juice: Powered by Black Celebs and Causes, These Drinks Give New Meaning to 'Buzzworthy'

Snoop Dogg, left, on January 05, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif.; Hebru Brantley’s design for the new Limited Edition Bombay Sapphire bottles; Mary J. Blige on February 09, 2020, in New York City.
Snoop Dogg, left, on January 05, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif.; Hebru Brantley’s design for the new Limited Edition Bombay Sapphire bottles; Mary J. Blige on February 09, 2020, in New York City.
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images, Bombay Sapphire, Craig Barritt (Getty Images

It’s the weekend; whatcha drinkin’? If you’re not teetotaling, chances are you may indulge in an adult beverage this summer weekend—it’s what we do! Case in point: Around this time last year, I was getting my entire life at the Chicago launch of Janelle Monáe’s collaboration with Belvedere Vodka at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. What none of us could’ve known then is that we’d be looking back on our cocktail-fueled, non-socially distanced dinner as “the good old days” a mere 11 months later. Dinner parties may be off the table for the foreseeable future, but there are several new wine and liquor offerings coming to market propelled by the buzz of Blackness—so let’s raise a glass.

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When it comes to beverages, Snoop may be best associated with gin and juice, but who knew the juice Snoop Dogg had in mind was wine? Ahead of his Verzuz faceoff with fellow provocateur DMX next week, the West Coast rapper dropped a new collab with Australian wine brand 19 Crimes, which, aside from its well-priced but surprisingly solid wine, is perhaps best known for its augmented reality labels featuring mugshots of turn-of-the-last-century criminals—each with a story you can hear via an app. Bringing his own flavor to the vine, Snoop has entered a multi-year partnership with the brand which kicks off with the launch of “Snoop Cali Red” (SRP: $12)—and yes, should you purchase his now-available vintage, he’ll be speaking to you from the label, too.

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From 19 Crimes:

An icon of hip hop, Snoop embodies the same spirit of rule-breaking, culture-creating, and overcoming adversity that inspired 19 Crimes’ original cast of rebellious heroes. Snoop Cali Red marks a new chapter for 19 Crimes, with Snoop bringing the first-ever California bottling from the fan-favorite wine brand to life. Sourced from Northern California’s Lodi region, Snoop Cali Red is a blend of Petite Syrah 65%, Zinfandel 30%, Merlot 5%. All American oak offers a distinct smoky component that also yields vanilla and chocolate.

Additionally, the brand tells us that in conjunction with the launch, 19 Crimes will donate $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Fund and working on a longer-term plan to provide continued support.

“19 Crimes was born from individuals that overcame adversity, and we are proud to support the NAACP in their fight to seek justice for people who are unfairly facing incarceration, for simply expressing the same outrage that we all now feel,” explains parent company Treasury Wine Estates Vice President of Marketing John Wardley.

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But Snoop isn’t the only music icon entering the wine game: Mary J. Blige is also popping her cork, announcing the launch of Sun Goddess Wines, a collaboration with Fantinel Winery. According to People magazine, the name is an homage to her mother’s warmth, and Blige has not one, but two wines coming to market: an Italian Pinot Grigio Ramato (rosé) and Sauvignon Blanc. Each will retail for $19.99 and are available for pre-sale on Wine.com, available nationwide in August.

From People:

A long time fan of the vineyard’s Pinto Grigio, Blige knew this collaboration was a perfect fit for her. “After walking through the vineyards and tasting with the Fantinel family, I felt extremely connected to the place, and more importantly, the people,” Blige said in a press release.

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According to the magazine, Blige’s rosé is “full-bodied with notes of peach, melon, and blackberry with a crisp finish, while the Sauvignon Blanc is smooth and strongly aromatic.” And for those of you who didn’t know, the woman we know and loved as “just Mary” ain’t new to this, she’s true to this oenophile life.

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“Wine tasting is one of my passions. Wine is culture. Wine is community. Wine is lifestyle. Wine is emotion,” read an Instagram caption in her initial late June announcement.

But back to that aforementioned gin: Chicago-based visual artist Hebru Brantley may not (yet) be as famous as the entertainers above, but he’s familiar to big names like Jay-Z, Lenny Kravitz, George Lucas, LeBron James and more who have collected his work over the past decade. In fact, last fall The Root reported on perhaps Brantley’s most ambitious installation to date, “a fantasy-like immersive pop-up art exhibit” called Nevermore Park that attracted thousands of visitors from around the world.

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Brantley now has another milestone under his belt—and another medium. This month, Bombay Sapphire debuted the artist’s reinterpretation of its iconic blue bottle , featuring a limited-edition design “paying homage to his early roots in street art and featuring bold and vibrant hues along with some of his famous characters,” according to a press release, which also read:

Recognized as one of the preeminent Black creatives at the forefront of culture, the Chicago-based artist’s first-ever bottle collaboration features distinct Afro-Futuristic designs as an extension of his narrative-driven work. Hitting shelves in the U.S. on July 1st, the launch of the Hebru Brantley Limited Edition bottle will benefit the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter.

As an extension of Stir Creativity, the global platform from Bombay Sapphire, the Hebru Brantley Limited Edition embodies the brand’s mission to inspire and awaken the creative potential within everyone.

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Hebru Brantley, left; his limited-edition Bombay Sapphire bottles
Hebru Brantley, left; his limited-edition Bombay Sapphire bottles
Photo: Bombay Sapphire

A buzz that benefits the movement for black lives? It may not be the conventional approach, but we’re open to cocktailing for a worthy cause. Speaking of which, Barefoot Wine has just partnered with the New Voices Foundation (NVF), a nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women of color entrepreneurs, providing a donation to launch #WeStanForHer: “a platform to highlight the collective beauty of Black women through original content, conversations and community partnership,” according to a release from the brand, which specifies that “this donation will be invested in Black women-owned beauty businesses that provide spaces, products and services that center, celebrate and uplift Black women.”

Launching the program, Barefoot will acknowledge the role beauty routines play in self-care and promote economic equity for the Black community...In addition to the NVF partnership, Barefoot will develop and premiere ‘We Stan for Her’, an original conversation series that will bring Black women together to discuss and celebrate beauty, self-expression and sisterhood. Set to premiere in late 2020, the series will feature a mix of influential women from various industries and with distinct points of views on key topics including natural hair, inner beauty and the connection between beauty and heritage, amongst other themes. These discussions will challenge perceptions of beauty while creating a forum for Black women to highlight their unique experiences.

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Barefoot will launch two grants in partnership with NVF, including 25 microgrants of $1,000 each for COVID-19 business recovery assistance for Black women-owned hair salons affected by the recent shutdowns. An additional $50,000 will provide five $10,000 beauty grants to eligible beauty businesses “to acknowledge and celebrate the ways in which they work to highlight the beauty of Black women,” with additional funds devoted to providing mentorship and business coaching to recipients.

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“Barefoot is committed to listening to and amplifying the voices of Black women, and we are proud to launch We Stan for Her to encourage important conversations and celebrate authentic experiences,” says Barefoot Marketing Strategist Lead Shannon Armah. “Through our partnership with the New Voices Foundation, we will continue our support and highlight the community, making an impact on businesses led by Black women.”

Well, we’ll drink to that—and as always, we recommend drinking in moderation. But, if we’re potentially doomed to spend much of this summer on lockdown, a few libations might come in handy—and if they also happen to help others, that’s a buzz with a benefit.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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