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Aminé on How Those Drinks Got in His Song

Listen to Aminé’s latest album, Kaytraminé, his collaboration with producer Kaytranada, released this past spring, and you may feel compelled to pour yourself a little something. That’s due in part to the copious references the rapper makes to drinks like the French 75. His love of cocktails, wines and spirits—and the good times they facilitate—played a role in the album’s creation.

“We were always having natural wine in the studio when me and Kay would link,” Aminé says. “Then [we’d] make music for a week straight and then throw a party and play that music while drinking wine.” As a result, drinks feature heavily throughout the album’s visual components. Aminé is holding up a glass of sparkling on the colorful cover, and an oversized wine glass appears in the video for the lead single “4eva.”

With his palate as the prism, we step inside Aminé’s world to better understand the drinking experiences that fuel his festive feeling.

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Where You Are

Aminé’s tastes are partially shaped by his travels to Europe, and the popular aperitifstyle cocktails served there. “There’s certain drinks that I only get when I’m in certain cities,” he says. “Whenever I’m in Paris and it’s summer: An Aperol Spritz just sounds perfect. What’s funny is I’d never get an Aperol Spritz in America. I don’t know why. It’s not even an actual thought.”

A self-described social drinker, he’s influenced in those subtle, subconscious ways. “I’m easily pressured into grabbing a drink because everyone else is,” he says. “But I’m never finishing it, which is funny.”

When he’s home in Los Angeles, he’s grabbing bottles of natural and orange wines from Silverlake Wine. “The people who work there are so nice. They don’t have their noses up in the air,” he says. After he started shopping there a few years back, Aminé created a Vivino profile (which you can follow), though he mostly buys based on staff recommendations.

Portrait of Aminé
Photography vy Greg Noire

Sweetening the Deal

While his songwriting may suggest otherwise, Aminé says he isn’t actually that big of a drinker. “I do have a guilty conscience when I’m having too much,” he says. Reds make him sleepy, and he doesn’t care for dry whites, opting instead for sweeter fare when choosing to imbibe. “The kind that people complain gives you a headache,” he says.

He’s not above asking for the fruitiest, sweetest cocktail on the menu, either. His current go-to is the Grape Drink from Korean restaurant Yangban in Los Angeles, which he says tastes like sweet Robitussin.

When he first tried a French 75, a few years back, there was immediate appeal. “It was refreshing. It didn’t feel like I was getting drunk right away,” he says. “It’s made well and pretty sweet, and that’s what I look for in cocktails.” He first mentions the classic cocktail on 2021’s “Between the Lines,” and raps its recipe on “4eva.” But don’t mistake repeat references to the drink to mean he’s drinking it all the time. “In general, hip hop is just over-exaggerated with everything,” he says, of where art and life diverge. “When I find something [I like], I’m talking about it for the next two, three years.”

Keeping It Light

Just as he and Kaytranada shared natural wines, Aminé says drinking in moderation has had a positive impact on his other friendships. “It’s part of my happiness when I gather with friends during the summer,” he says. “It takes away a lot of people’s egos and it makes people just more open and goofy.” The 2020 movie Another Round, which posits a similar theory, is a favorite of his.

Part of what makes natural wine so appealing to him is what he perceives as a lightness that makes him feel unencumbered. He calls his relationship to natural wine, well, natural, but there’s an easiness to the way he speaks and raps about his favorite drinks. The song “Dakota,” from his debut album Good For You is a reference to Dakota Shy Winery in the Napa Valley, which is where he was recording at the time. And while Kaytraminé was never meant to be a party starter, Aminé recognizes that it’s had that effect. “We didn’t put out a brochure for the album telling people, ‘Yeah, you gotta party to this with wine,’” he says. “It was just kind of naturally the feeling it kind of gave off.” In other words, the vibes translate.

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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