Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Cocktail By One Name But Includes Something Else

Here's a little history for you gals and guys. I originally posted this in my NYCHistory blogpage under the title A Cocktail By One Name But Includes Something Else. Here it is in its entirety:

The custom of ordering a specific spirit in one's cocktail is something we do as second nature. But a court case came up in the New York Supreme Court in 1937 that shed light on a practice that set the standard for how drinks are made. The case was brought upon by the CompaƱia Ron Bacardi. In said suit, the Bacardi family sued a number of New York City bars and restaurants of which the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel and Wivel Restaurant (on West 45th Street) were the defendants on the basis that customers ordering a Bacardi cocktail were not being served what they ordered. In other words, the customer ordered lets say a Bacardi and Coca Cola and were given another brand of rum and Coca Cola. The suit was based on the idea that the Bacardi rum was the popular spirit at the time post-Prohibition.

To be honest, the whole thing sounds a bit odd. The case was littered with weird testimonies as to how a chicken sandwich is made whether with chicken or other poultry meat and how beef stew is actually made with beef or beef trimmings. To add to the weirdness factor, the lawyers for the Bacardi family called to the stand the bartender of the New York Athletic Club and the Deal Golf Club, Andre Guex to testify on how he served the presiding Judge, Justice John L. Welsh (who was a member of both clubs) his Bacardi cocktails. The Bartender stated that he served the judge a Bacardi cocktail with Bacardi and nothing else.

After all was said and done, Justice John L. Walsh, ruled:

"Beyond a reasonable doubt subterfuge and a fraud is subjected on the purchaser when BACARDI rum is left out of a drink listed as a "BACARDI" cocktail."

The decision led to an injunction being filed against the defendants and Bacardi drinkers getting their Bacardi in the Bacardi cocktails that they order. What follows below are a series of print ads for Bacardi after the case was decided.

Bacardi celebrates consumer rights by multivu

So now when you order a Bacardi and coke, you expect Bacardi. Order a Cuba Libre and you'll probably get well rum if you don't specify a particular brand. Be specific and remember tip your server ;)


For Further Reading
- Click Here to access the article Justice Examines His Club Bartender dated April 28, 1936 from the New York Times website
- Click Here to access the article Cocktails Must Live Up to Name dated April 29, 1936 from the New York Times website