Across his three decades at the top of the music industry, the only thing that could possibly outnumber Diddy’s changes of stage name are his multiple bold career pivots. From his early days breaking chart records as Puff Daddy in the ’90s, to the founding of his groundbreaking fashion label Sean John, to his more recent successes as an entrepreneur, Diddy’s status as one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful hip-hop moguls is the result of his natural instincts for always staying one step ahead. But despite these achievements, for Diddy there was always one, surprisingly sentimental business venture that eluded him: making his own tequila.
“Tequila was the first drink that I ever had when I saved up and took my girlfriend on my first trip to Cancún, Mexico,” Diddy remembers. “I remember the bottles would have a worm in them, so you had to be really adventurous to try it. But I fell in love with the art of it, and it was always a dream for me to be a young man from Harlem to actually own a tequila brand and make it, to go to Mexico and do it all the right way.”
After becoming a brand ambassador for the then-struggling French luxury vodka brand Cîroc in 2007 (its ubiquity today as the hip-hop world’s vodka of choice is largely thanks to Diddy) he saw an opportunity to expand further, purchasing the Mexican tequila brand DeLéon in 2013. Now, just in time for the holiday season, he’s launching a redesign of the bottle—oh, and giving us the recipe or his favorite festive cocktail, the “Repo-loma,” which according to Diddy “tastes just like the holidays.” (Although he also adds that there will be plenty of shots doing the rounds this Christmas too.)
While Diddy, who is currently at home in Miami with his family, will almost certainly be spotted with a cocktail shaker in hand over the festive period, this year he’s planning to show off his skills in the kitchen—something he’s been learning from his mother, who owns a soul food restaurant in Miami, during lockdown. “I always loved celebrating with family and friends, and I always loved hosting, but cooking is something that I’m just learning to do now,” he says. “You become the ultimate host when you’re the one actually cooking the meal for your guests. I’m starting off light, with turkey bolognese and spaghetti and chicken parmigiana. I also do a mean egg sandwich, an English muffin egg sandwich. I’m on my way.”
It’s partly thanks to Diddy’s newfound culinary skills that he’s accidentally gained a new Gen Z following on TikTok, where he’s acquired 1.3 million followers and counting for his goofy, candid windows into the life of a hip-hop superstar. One highlight sees Diddy in the kitchen on the night before Thanksgiving, brining a turkey and prepping a yam bake—“shout out to all my late-night chefs prepping for tomorrow,” he says towards the end.
“My kids actually run my TikTok, you know what I’m saying,” Diddy laughs. “Through this time I’ve been trying to disconnect from social media and stay focused—I didn’t even know that I became a TikTok star until they told me.” It’s this opportunity to spend meaningful downtime with his family that Diddy sees as one of the few silver linings of this strange year. “I’m not usually really extra into the Christmas spirit, but this year I am,” he adds. “This year I made a pledge to myself that I’m really going to enjoy the holidays. I haven’t really had a chance to enjoy it properly since I was a child, so I had a meeting with my kids and I told them that I was really going to get into the holiday spirit, because I want to feel like I felt when I was 10 years old and I got that bike for Christmas.”
All the same, Diddy is keenly aware that this year’s festivities are underscored by an awareness that those less fortunate will be struggling in a year blighted by a pandemic and a recession. “A big part of this year is giving,” Diddy continues. “I had to tell my kids we have to learn and we have to evolve from this situation. We’re doing something down in Miami, a big giveaway, really spreading the Christmas spirit beyond our household to the community. That’s what I’m teaching my girls now. They’re gonna give daddy some gifts, but they’re gonna also make sure that they give gifts to other people in the community that aren’t as blessed.”
“It’s been some crazy times,” Diddy says. “My wish, no matter how clichéd it sounds, is that everybody can just have 72 hours out from all of the oppression and all of the treachery that’s going on right now, that would be my wish.”
That’s not to say, however, that Diddy won’t be making sure there’s plenty of family fun to be had in the lead-up to Christmas. It would be remiss not to ask him—as someone who is clearly a consummate host—about his ultimate holiday entertaining tips. “Well, you gotta have some DeLeón,” he starts, firmly. “But most of all you’ve got to have great music. Music is very, very key, and also food that doesn’t take the dance out of you, so something light, something clean, something that’ll keep you dancing. It’s not a party unless you’re dancing. You could be at a get-together, a dinner, but a celebration? You have to have dancing.”
1.5 oz DeLeón Reposado Tequila1 oz grapefruit juice0.75 oz lime juice0.5 oz simple syrupPinch of kosher salt and club sodaGrapefruit wedge garnishShaken with iceServed in a highball/Collins glass over ice