When a celebrity introduces their own line of liquors or cannabis products, it feels like an obvious financial expansion of their existing brand. Snoop Dogg, for example, is already synonymous with getting high and drinking gin — he’d practically be losing money if he didn’t have his name tied to versions of these products. But in rare cases, these ventures become part of the narrative of the celebrity as well. Francis Ford Coppola will always be known first and foremost as a filmmaker, but his family’s winery is now a recognizable part of their extended legacy rather than a gimmick.
It’s this dynamic that sits at the heart of T-Pain’s recently released cocktail book, Can I Mix You a Drink?. Some of T-Pain’s songs do indeed center around alcohol, but the artist himself isn’t synonymous with drinking in the same way Snoop is with weed. This book, in a surprisingly serious way, attempts to change that. Think of the song “Buy U a Drank,” from which the book draws its name. It’s a playful, narratively simple track, defined mainly by the line, “We in the bed like, ooh, ooh, ooh, woah, woah, ooh, ooh.” And yet, it has unquestionable significance in music, pop culture and our understanding of T-Pain writ large.
I’m not going to say we should view his cocktail book in such a lofty way, but I will say that it’s surprisingly unique. Among the 50 cocktails included therein, there are few that seem basic or completely familiar, with the exception of one that’s just whiskey and hot tea and another slightly modified version of an Old Fashioned. In a way, though, that’s the downside of the book: Much of it is too fucking complicated for a newbie like me.
Honestly, you could probably have what’s considered a full bar and still fall short of the necessary ingredients to perfectly replicate every recipe. The Olde English reduction (boiled Olde English with sugar and spices) or ghost pepper-infused tequila look easy enough to pull off. But the celery bitters or clarified milk-punch liqueur? Not so much. More than that, there’s little overlap among ingredients. The Olde English reduction and celery bitters are each only used once.
And so, in assessing which cocktails I’d try for myself on a budget, I was forced to choose strategically. For the most part, I selected those that appeared accessible or had ingredients that I’d likely use at a later date. The main exception was the milk-punch liqueur — I chose it because that shit sounded cool.
Initially, I wanted to make drinks based primarily upon song titles, and I was partially able to accomplish this. The first two drinks I made — “I’m Sprung” and “Chopped n’ Skrewed” — were selected for both name and ease of creation. Each featured peach liqueur as their standout creation, augmented by Riesling and seltzer in the former and vodka, orange juice and muddled peaches in the latter. Both were delightful, but I’m partial to “I’m Sprung.” Its effervescent, fruity but not overtly sweet quality mirrored the actual song perfectly, and I’m now convinced that peach liqueur is something worthy of having on-hand in my humble home bar.
The other two cocktails I tried were slightly further outside of my comfort zone. “All I Do Is Win” is the aforementioned update on the Old Fashioned. Rather than just using an orange peel, it called for muddled oranges, limes and mint. And it was served over ice with club soda, not neat. Still, the formula of bourbon (I used Fistful of Bourbon, as the recipe called for), sugar and bitters remained the same, and I found it to be a lighter, easier drink than a traditional Old Fashioned. Meanwhile, “Low” felt like something fancy I might order at a restaurant, namely because it was served straight-up in a coupe glass. It called for tequila, but I used Ilegal mezcal instead because that’s what I had. It was mixed with grenadine, lemon juice, bitters and peach liqueur. I was surprised by how much I liked it, as I’m usually pretty partial to ice.
As for the milk-punch liqueur, the gin that I wanted to mix it with was stolen from my front door. Upon discovering this, I decided to just drink some of the liqueur straight. It tasted like a Capri Sun. I seriously think you could serve it to a child and they wouldn’t notice.
Interestingly, the general vibe of Can I Mix You a Drink? is that it isn’t strictly for T-Pain fans. While it’s filled with fun anecdotes from T-Pain — like the top five most expensive liquors he’s purchased or his advice on strip club etiquette — someone who isn’t familiar with him can enjoy it, too. Now, exactly how much of the book was written by T-Pain and how much was written by his co-author, food and beverage executive Max Britton, is unclear. But regardless, Can I Mix You a Drink? positions T-Pain as someone invested in the world of cocktails, rather than just a celebrity looking to lean into a relatively easy cash grab.
Say you were the hypothetical woman T-Pain is singing to in “Buy U A Drank,” and he did indeed take you home with him. If he mixed you one of the drinks from his book upon your arrival, your response definitely would be “I Like Dat.”