Where Are All the Cocktail Trademarks?

  • Trademark Clearance
Where Are All the Cocktail Trademarks?

Have you ever wondered why only a handful of cocktail names are trademarked? The Dark ‘N Stormy and the Painkiller are the only two that immediately come to mind. Too bad it’s a bit early in some parts of the world to discuss this over cocktails, but take a sip of whatever is sitting next to you and read on . . .

First off, Gosling’s Rum owns the trademark for Dark ’N Stormy (Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, ginger beer, and a lime garnish) and as the company’s CEO E. Malcolm Gosling, Jr. told The New York Times: “We defend that trademark vigorously, which is a very time-consuming and expensive thing.” The trademark for Painkiller (Pusser’s Rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, orange juice, and fresh grated nutmeg) is owned by Pusser’s Rum.

Searching deeper, there’s also the Hand Grenade (gin, grain alcohol, melon liqueur, rum and vodka), owned by New Orleans bar group 721 Bourbon, Inc. And sometimes you’ll notice a cocktail at a specific restaurant features a trademark symbol next to it on the menu, like Applebee’s Summer Squeeze or Mucho Margarita.

The trademark for a cocktail can cover the brand name, the logo, and/or its slogan; most importantly, it protects only the name of the drink, not its recipe.

Talking about the Dark ‘N Stormy to Maxim, Gosling spokesman Glenn Kelley said the drink’s trademark was important “to ensure consistency of the taste of this cocktail.”

Gosling’s first registered the trademark in Bermuda and then followed up with registrations in Western Europe, the Caribbean, the United States, and Asia, leaving out Australia. The trademark in Australia is now owned by Bundaberg Distilling, a local rum company.

Pusser’s trademarked Painkiller in the United States and United Kingdom in 2003. When a New York City bar opened in 2010 with the name Painkiller, Pusser’s cease-and-desist letter demanded the bar to not only rename itself, but also to turn over its domain. Strategically, Pusser’s had not only registered Painkiller as an alcoholic beverage, but also in the category of restaurant and bar services.

Certainly there are other cocktails that are trademarked around the world — which ones have you run across in your region or travels?