Imagine a world where cocktail recipes were protected by copyright and trademark, a world where bartenders were barred from sharing their best drinks with the rest of the world. That’s what happened in the early 20th century. Bartenders were forced to create new cocktails that broke with the past, and the names of those cocktails were trademarked and commercially exploited by big business. In this article, we’ll examine the complex legacies of these trademarked cocktails.

As the summer grilling season comes to a close, we turn our attention away from charcoal-grilled burgers and hot dogs and toward fall comfort foods like bread-based comfort foods and bourbon. Happily, a recent spate of cocktail legislation has made it even easier to serve up drinks like bourbon on the rocks and apple cider old-fashioneds at your tailgate or fall gathering.

What is the brand value of the cocktail? It depends on who you ask.

Tropical Isle, a chain of bars in New Orleans, is the only place you can try Hand Grenade®. People are proud of the fact that this drink is omnipresent in the city. All the hand grenades you see on the streets of New Orleans are made by the same company, according to the Tropical Isle website.

The sanctity of Hand Grenade, which Tropical Isle describes as a melon-flavored drink with lots of alcohol and other secret ingredients, is questionable at best. But when it comes to other trademarked cocktails, like Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Sazerac or Painkiller, honesty is often cited as a necessity for the legal name of the drink.

CocktailHand Grenade® from the Tropical Isle network in New Orleans / Courtesy of Bourbon and Leaf.

Thanks to trademarks, these cocktails must be prepared with specific ingredients, protected by a trademark. Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda Black rum should be added to Dark ‘n’ Stormy. Sazerac needs Sazerac rye whiskey. Pusser’s rum is a must for painkillers. Other than that, they’re just cocktails inspired by the originals.

For the average person, it probably doesn’t matter much. The mark puts more weight on companies that could be penalized if they make Sazerac with a different rye.

The owner of the trademark may issue a warning to any establishment that does not adhere to the specifications for beverages.

Malcolm Gosling Jr. of Gosling’s Rum says the brand rarely uses strike letters, but that the company will defend its rights.

A brand can only be effective if it is nurtured, says Gosling. In our experience, if a cocktail is not listed correctly on the menu, it is often a problem of attention. We will work with the account to correct the incorrect entry.

The trademark protects not only the integrity of the cocktail, but also the consumer by guaranteeing that it is a Dark ‘n’ Stormy. -Malcolm Gosling Jr, Gosling’s Rum.

But it’s almost impossible to know how many people might infringe on your brand, says attorney David Postolski. He specializes in intellectual property and patent law and has worked on numerous patents in the food and beverage industry.

Still, the few brands that have stayed true to their signature cocktails find it very important to preserve the integrity of the drink.

The brand not only protects the integrity of the cocktail, but also protects consumers by guaranteeing that it’s a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Gosling says.

For the brand owner, trust lies in having a strong, recognizable product, although Postolski warns that this trust can diminish over time.

The more generalized your [brand] becomes, the more it loses its power, becomes diluted, Postolski says.

Rye WhiskeySazerac Rye Whiskey Needed for the Sazerac / Getty

That might explain why Jillian Vause, bar manager and beverage director at New York restaurant The Dead Rabbit, is unable to list a short list of her own cocktails. None of these products are on the menu at the Dead Rabbit’s bar, although Loza knows the basic recipes. She often uses a classic cocktail model to create a more modern interpretation.

For example, the bar serves the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, made with ginger syrup, fresh lime juice, Gosling’s and sparkling water.

What if she doesn’t have Gosling? I would have used a different dark rum, Vause said. She thinks the average person wouldn’t know the difference.

Vine has no lack of respect for these classic cocktails. She respects them and the whole way they are made, she says. All they really care about is the taste of the drink.

This is also what the companies that own the brands say.

You can make [Painkiller] with Bacardi money, says Gary L. Rogalski, president and CEO of Pusser’s Rum, but it won’t taste like Painkiller as we know it.

Similarly, says Gosling, you can make a Dark ‘n’ Stormy with a different rum, but that will completely change the drink. This does not mean that things change for the worse. The important thing is that it changes.

Daniel Jung, founder of Los Angeles-based cocktail and spirits blog Thirsty, says he’d love to try a Sazerac with the city’s official recipes – Sazerac Rye, Herbsaint and Peychaud’s – if he were in New Orleans at an iconic bar like Sazerac Bar or Carousel Bar.

But with today’s wide selection of rice varieties, aniseed liqueurs and flavored mixers, why should bartenders be limited to the offerings of a single brand? says Jung. Personally, I like bottled workhorses like Old Overholt and Rittenhouse.

People don’t realize the responsibility that comes with a branded drink. -Gary L. Rogalski, Pusser’s Rum.

Jung says he has drunk countless Sazeracs, but he seriously doubts they are always made with Sazerac Rye.

Will Sazerac attack any bar that doesn’t use its products at Sazerac? says Jung. As far as I know, there was no such thing.

Sazerac did not respond to a request for comment.

Pusser’s, on the other hand, jumped on the Painkiller Bar in New York in 2001. After Pusser’s discovered that the bar’s eponymous drink was not made with Pusser’s, the bar was forced to change its name. According to Jang, this has caused discontent in the legal community. A number of publications have reported on this dispute.

Was it worth it? Jung asks. You’ll have to ask Pusser.

Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail should be made with Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda Black rum/Getty.

Rogalski is defending Pusser’s position. He mentioned the integrity of the drink: four parts pineapple, one part coconut cream, one part orange juice and as much rum as you like.

People don’t realize the responsibility that comes with a branded drink, he says.

Maybe the responsibility gives a clue why there aren’t more drinks with the brand. Another axis could be creativity in cocktails.

Cocktails with only liquor in the ingredients, such as martinis or manhattans, should be stirred, while drinks with citrus, such as daiquiris or margaritas, should be shaken, Jung says. But there are countless variations of the base alcohol and other ingredients and their proportions.

Different variations of daiquiris, margaritas or even negronis can be fun and a little individual.

There’s a marketing genius behind the branded cocktails, says Vause, who just wants to make the best-tasting drinks. She prefers a salt infusion with margaritas, but says she can also make a traditional salt rim if the customer requests it.

The pretentious bartender is a thing of the past, says Vause.

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about patented cocktails and let us know what you think.

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