Thursday, April 23, 2015

What is a Cocktail Name Really Worth?

     The battle over what ingredients have to be used in a "trademarked cocktail" is heating up again.  A few years back Pusser's Rum flexed its muscles about the use of rums other than Pusser's in the "Painkiller", now Gosling Brothers Ltd. is making noise over their "Dark 'N Stormy"

     "A margarita doesn't have to made with Patron tequila, and a bloody mary doesn't need to made with Stolichnaya vodka, but, according to Gosling Brothers Ltd., a "Dark 'N Stormy" can only be made with Gosling's Black Seal Bermuda Black Rum. "  

    " That's because the name of the cocktail - dark rum, ginger beer, ice and lime, apparently invented after World War I - is a registered trademark of Gosling Brothers, one that the Bermuda-based distiller told The New York Times a few years back it "defends vigorously." 

     "So the company didn't take it lightly when a black rum rival - Proximo Spirits' upstart Kraken Black Spiced Rum, which is made in Trinidad and Tobago - applied for a trademark registration on "Kraken Storm" for use on its own line of ginger beer."   "Gosling and others have long promoted the mark 'Dark 'N Stormy' as designating a cocktail made exclusively with Gosling's Black Seal Rum and mixed with ginger beer," the company said, noting that its rights go back "decades."

Whether it be a Bacardi Cocktail, Hand Grenade, Sazerac, or a Painkiller, the laws of this country allow the trademarking of cocktails and their ingredients.  In the opinion of this writer, you really have to choose your battles.  Is it worth drawing the ire of a lot of bartenders and writer just to make a point.   This is an issue that keeps coming up again and again, but who really wins and who loses?  I think that this is one of those lose, lose situations.  There are times that the property needs to be protected and there are times that you need to "let a sleeping dog lay".  You can sometimes win the battle and loose the war of sales.