Bill Brooks has been in the liquor business out of St. Charles, Illinois, near Chicago, for nearly 40 years. Most of that time, he says, has been dealing in the Al Capone of the Roaring Twenties, specifically Tommy Guns vodka
. And this is how he got hooked up with local rapper Al Kapone about five years ago. He enlisted Kapone to help promote Tommy Guns, which comes in a tommy gun-shaped bottle.
Their latest collaboration is Hustle Vodka and Memphis Heat Cinnamon Whiskey, produced by Dehner Distillery
Actually, there are three products being launched: the vodka, the whiskey, and the rum-based Sassy Girl C.R.E.A.M.
Brooks tells me that C.R.E.A.M. is known to mean "Cash Rules Everything Around Me." On the label of Sassy Girl C.R.E.A.M. is a white woman on one side, a black woman on the other. Brooks reasons that liquor stores can turn the bottle any way it suits them. "It's the only product that goes after the urban woman demographic," he says. "And, if not, fine, it's cream."
It's with the same savvy that Brooks has approached the Kapone-related brands. (Brooks says that Kapone told him to find a woman to promote Sassy Girl.)
"He was instrumental on the design," says Brooks of Kapone. The Hustle Vodka label has diamonds spelling out "hustle" against a gold nugget background. An earlier incarnation of the label was more ornate, with Kapone suggesting they make it simpler. Some versions has the rapper on the label.
The label for Memphis Heat show a skyline of the city, including the "M" bridge, and flames. Brooks says that denotes the heat in Memphis and the "heat" in Memphis — all the cool things like Kapone's favs the Memphis Grizzlies.
"Al is our promoter," says Brooks. "We're using Memphis as a hub. From there, we go to Atlanta, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and Florida."
Hustle Vodka and Memphis Heat should be in the stores sometime around mid-July.