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April 4, 2011 4:09 PM   Subscribe

How do I pimp out a cocktail?

About 13 years ago, I had my first drink. I hated it since it tasted like paint thinner. I started mixing my own drinks. Not knowing the basics of drink mixing, I started creating all sorts of unusual cocktails ("chocolate milk and vodka has GOT TO BE GREAT"-yikes).

That actually worked out for me, because after a few months I found the perfect cocktail for my tastes. Its about as easy to construct as a "Jack and Coke". In fact, just like a J&C, it uses two well known brands (a spirit, and a non-alcoholic beverage).

Its good. DAMN GOOD. That not only my opinion, but the opinion of most everyone that has sampled it. Boys, Girls, bartenders, everyone. People who would not drink either one of those two seem to enjoy both of them mixed together. Friends of friends even call me by the name of the drink because thats what they know me for.

About 5 years ago, I finally realized that this is NOT a standard drink. NOBODY drinks this because they have never heard of it. The two items that are mixed are usually not mixed together either. It even has a very simple and easy to remember name using the 2 brand name ingredients.

What can I do here?

Worst case scenario, it goes nowhere. Best case (and least likely) scenario I make loads of money off of an idea using 2 already successful and established brands.

I have searched all over google, asked all the bartenders I knew (including professionals in LA), and look this up in EVERY cocktail book EVERYTIME I hit up a bookstore. There is NO MENTION of this concoction at all. I've had librarians search this for me...and even they get surprised that they cannot find any mention of it in text or internet.

It can be made very easily in a bar, at home, at parties, or even in one of those RTD cans for portable potables.

Yes, I have thought about contacting the maker of the liquor. I don't know how to do this, since I'm sure they get thousands of drink concoction recipes from people like me.

I have no restaurant or bar that I own. I also don't work in that industry.

Do I have any options besides squatting on domain names?

I'm not going to carry this recipe to my grave. I just want to know if I can do something with this. If I can't, I have no problem telling the world.

Any help, y'all? Thanks in advance.
posted by hal_c_on to Food & Drink (46 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you are out of luck in terms of profit, but I guess that MetaFilter has the sort of gravitas and page ranking that if you mention it here, publicly, and then later it becomes a Thing, you could point to this as the moment it all happened and take some measure of pride in that.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:15 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


What is it, I'll tell you if you are on to something.

Seriously, if it contains alcohol, it has probably already been done. Best you can do is probably go to your local bar and start ordering a hal_c_on on the rocks. When they ask what it is, tell them your drink.

Do that for a couple of years and it will pick up. Back in my home town there are a couple of bars you can go into and order a barry gibb. It's a bourbon and ginger with a splash of bitters and a lime. Best damn mixed drink there is.
posted by TheBones at 4:17 PM on April 4, 2011


I can say that all the fancy cocktail bars in San Francisco have regular signature drinks that the mixologist (that's right they're *not* bartenders) have come up with on their own and make no big deal out of it.
posted by straight_razor at 4:18 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't copyright a recipe, but you can copyright a name (Google 'derby pie'--I think it's the 'kern' family that copyrighted it. Anybody else can use the recipe, but there's only one entity that can use the term 'Derby Pie'.

So I think what you actually need is a catchy name.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:21 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you are out of luck in terms of profit

I *think* so too...but I don't have any knowledge to back that up. I'm hoping someone here HAS some knowledge which could help.

I'm not necessarily looking for money (but I don't want to discount the potential opportunity).

Rather than 500 different people claiming to have invented the drink, I'd like to be known as the inventor (if I REALLY did invent it...which I seem to have, since there is NO mention of it anywhere).

The Tom Collins has an inventor thats known...he probably made no money because of it...but is known for it. Bar fame wouldn't be bad, either.

And yes...I ALWAYS did think that somewhere, someone did do this...but they really haven't. Or if they have...its not documented ANYWHERE.

How can I be the first to document this and get credit for it?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:22 PM on April 4, 2011


This is what I was talking about. Sorry, I hate it when people tell me to Google things. Sheesh.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:23 PM on April 4, 2011


So I think what you actually need is a catchy name.

I DO have a catchy name. Part of the name uses a PART of a well known brand. Can I still copyright it?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:24 PM on April 4, 2011


Why not name it and put it up here, or on it's own website, so that you can claim firsts on it then.
posted by TheBones at 4:24 PM on April 4, 2011


Don't put it here unless you get a domain name first, if you are hoping to make money in that respect.
posted by amicamentis at 4:24 PM on April 4, 2011


I can say that all the fancy cocktail bars in San Francisco have regular signature drinks that the mixologist (that's right they're *not* bartenders) have come up with on their own and make no big deal out of it.

Yeah, understood...there are tons of bars like that all over the world. The difference is that this is JUST 2 ingredients...and most bars probably have them both. They would just NEVER use them together.

In fact, everytime I mention it, people give me a look like I'm asking them to make a spaghetti and bread sandwich. Until they taste it, that is.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:27 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW...I REALLY appreciate everyone's help, and I'm gonna "best answer" all of them. Thanks!
posted by hal_c_on at 4:28 PM on April 4, 2011


Part of the name uses a PART of a well known brand. Can I still copyright it?

Can you run it by a copyright attorney as a one-off? Just ask the question and then file if you want on your own? It seems like it would be worth it if you'd like to have some fun with it and then you'd need to know if you had to change the name.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:28 PM on April 4, 2011


I already have the domain name and all misspellings of it. Even though its small and catchy, nobody had ever claimed the domains.

Yeah, I thought about taking it to an attorney...but the last thing I want is to spend $300 to have an attorney patronize me.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:30 PM on April 4, 2011


Here's what I would do if I were you: get the domain name, email the liquor company in question (that's part of the name) and push your drink, as well as numerous drinking websites. Hopefully it will get enough buzz that your website would get a lot of hits. You might be able to set up an affiliate link and ads to make a bit of money.

Could be unlikely but might as well!
posted by amicamentis at 4:31 PM on April 4, 2011


amicamentis, I like the cut of your jib.

I already have the domain name (and all misspellings).

Unfortunately, most companies have a "if you send us an unsolicited idea...we can claim it as our own" disclaimer.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:35 PM on April 4, 2011


I'd also hook up with a local bartender/mixologist, preferably one that writes about this kind of stuff or is involved in competitions or some other type of cocktail-drinking promotion stuff. As them what they think. Maybe someone like these guys (Note: run by my brother-in-law, also not sure how much he does these days but he's a friendly guy).

Alternatively, consider entering a cocktail competition yourself, generate some buzz around your drink. Then when you go to the company you've got something more than just an idea to show them.
posted by shelleycat at 4:39 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think you can patent a drink, so a trademark? But if it's hyphenated from two trademarks that you don't own, that would be a limitation.

I would think you could use it as a news peg to promote the roll-out of a product or service. Maybe solar-powered rechargeable illuminated cocktail shakers?

I toast your ambition, with a Dr Dan!
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:06 PM on April 4, 2011


I would be intensely surprised if you could monetize this in any way. Professional mixologists share recipes on the web all the time. If they could make money from them in some other way, I'm sure they would.
posted by dfan at 5:14 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd look into the Marketing or PR departments for the main booze. Who ever handles the hosted-bars at events "sponsored by brand X"...

Get the recipe into marketing's hands and hope it takes off HUGE.

Then sell your domain to the liquor maker after the "Pibb 'n Brandy" or whatever you've come up with is being ordered by all the "cool kids" in bars across the country.

I think, since the IDEA it self probably won't make you rich or famous, your best bet is to exploit what you OWN: the domain name.

And now I'm DYING to know what you are sitting on!
posted by OctopusHat Jack at 5:17 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would this fit the criteria for MeFi Projects or do Projects need to be non-profit in nature? I think that if you were to follow up on this, people would be interested to see where it goes.
posted by Morrigan at 5:22 PM on April 4, 2011


I only know of the Dark'N'Stormy as a trademarked drink by Goslings. But first you have to prove it is an established trademark and all that.

That being said, you aren't going to make millions on it. Really famous bartenders create new drinks or discover forgotten ones and usually they get accolades in the trade journal and some writeups and thats about it.

Best thing you can do is just stop being coy and tell folks what it is, and if it does turn out to be amazing as you say it is, you can claim first through your website or whatever, but that isn't going to be how it spreads. It's going to spread by mixologists picking up on it, serving it, and deciding to put it on their board or drinks menu.

In short, if you're a nobody in the booze business right now, you will have to get a somebody to start talking about it.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:35 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pity that mefi's own Splificator doesn't have memail enabled... I can't think of any other cocktail luminaries on metafilter, but seconding mrzarquon: you need somebody known to the biz to start talking about that new sensation, the hal_c_on press.
posted by mumkin at 5:42 PM on April 4, 2011


> Yeah, understood...there are tons of bars like that all over the world. The difference is that this is JUST 2 ingredients...and most bars probably have them both. They would just NEVER use them together.

Have you ever ordered this drink out of your hometown or country (I am guessing you are in New Zealand)? At a place that serves more than just vodka drinks with other mixers? Just because you and the circle you travel in haven't heard of it doesn't mean its unique.

Most folks don't know of Fernet with a ginger back, but its a hot item in San Francisco. Or you have Vodka and Gingerbeer for the Moscow Mule, one of the first vodka drinks ever. etc.

Really, we can help you better if you tell folks what it is, if it is as good as you say it is, and still uncommon, then you can get whatever press you want.

No bartender I know of has succeded with their top secret drink list. In fact all the good ones I know will share with you their recipes without batting an eyelash. Their money and prestige doesn't come from their secret book, it comes from their ability to make a tasty cocktail out of whatever someone puts in front of them.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:52 PM on April 4, 2011


I hate on metafilter all the time, but I secretly do love this fucking house.
And you guys are right; lets spill this recipe.

My gift to metafilter are my 2 best friends during my college years at Indiana.
Johnnie & Earl

1 cup of Earl Grey tea (hot or cooled, but brewed properly. I prefer Twinings)
1 shot of Johnnie Walker Black.

Stir and drink.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:44 PM on April 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


Scotch Whisky and green tea has become a powerful combination for distillers in China, and exports to the country rose 124 per cent in value to £22m in the first half of this year, said the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:03 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a hot toddy, sorry you have been beaten to it by a couple hundred years.
posted by TheBones at 7:06 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a story you might like: The Libation Perpetration – How the Green Light Cocktail Took Baltimore
posted by zinfandel at 7:10 PM on April 4, 2011


Yup, that's a hot toddy. I've gotten them in restaurants (although not usually bars, because proper tea-making instruments aren't exactly standard issue in Texas.)
posted by restless_nomad at 7:10 PM on April 4, 2011


Also quite similar to the "Earl of Grey" from this American Mixologist Online issue. Sounds tasty!
posted by platinum at 7:10 PM on April 4, 2011


Ahhh...the googlin' haters are here.

Yeah, sticky earl grey is dramatically different from green tea. Different plant, different flavor, totally different.

A hot toddy is a category of drink. Lots of varieties..."johnnie and earl" being one.

Go ahead and try it guys...or just hate. Either way, the information is out there if you want to use it for your benefit!
posted by hal_c_on at 7:14 PM on April 4, 2011


Its EARL GREY and JOHNNIE WALKER (BLACK).

Substituting them with other types of teas/whiskys makes it dramatically different. Kinda like how Jim Beam and RC cola tastes different from jack and coke. Just different.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:20 PM on April 4, 2011


Ahhh...the googlin' haters are here.

No one is hating on you, it's just that tea and whiskey is one of the oldest combos in the book and JW Black and Earl Grey are two of the most popular and best known brands of those categories. I have personally made this particular combination in my home more than once.
posted by lalex at 7:26 PM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Earl of Grey (as linked above) is Earl Grey tea and Scotch. It's your recipe, even though it doesn't specify Johnnie Black, as most recipes don't specify a specific type of scotch (or if they would, they would specify something like peaty or smokey, not a brand). Honestly Johnnie Black isn't that remarkable of a scotch once you start venturing out among the laphroigs, the lagavulins, and various islay and highlands cask strength stuff.

It sounds great, the problem with two ingredient recipe drinks is someone, somewhere, has probably put scotch in their black tea. Just as people have with their coffee, and their espresso. And their milkshake.

You do have a good name, and you could possibly get it featured in the drink book that comes with scotch, as scotch cocktails are finally making a comeback, but I doubt Johnnie Walker is up to speed enough to push for it, much of their advertising has been about just their beverage standing on it's own without anything else.

You have found a good recipe for a cheeseburger by defining the type of cheese and the type of beef, but it is still a cheeseburger at the end of the day.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:28 PM on April 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Thanks everybody! I appreciate all your help.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:10 PM on April 4, 2011


Thank you for sharing your drink idea. I will try it this weekend! Cheers!
posted by jennstra at 8:29 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was worried you were gonna say "V.S. Cognac and Diet Dr. Thunder" as that's my secret cocktail no-one is allowed to know about until I get rich off it somehow. I call it "Le Walmart."
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:49 AM on April 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


Dr Thunder! I haven't seen that in years. And DDT is even better (Diet Dr. Thunder).

And yeah, I was half-convinced hal_c_on was going to say green tea and Chivas, which is the only thing anyone drank at every single nightclub I went to in Shanghai when I was visiting my brother there.

Also, do most bars/homes really have Earl Grey tea?
posted by Grither at 6:11 AM on April 5, 2011


will agree with the above that generally specifying the suggested 'brand' of say whiskey does not make it a differetn coctail.

Unless its Hendricks Gin and you are talking Martinis ;) witth a slice of cucumber!

oh and can you all stop calling it "Scotch" its "Whiskey" (they make it in Ireland too you know...
posted by mary8nne at 6:35 AM on April 5, 2011


oh and can you all stop calling it "Scotch" its "Whiskey" (they make it in Ireland too you know...
Scotch is a subset of whisky, specifically whisky made in Scotland. Johnnie Walker is made in Scotland, ergo...
posted by dirtdirt at 6:43 AM on April 5, 2011


If it ain't made in Scotland, it ain't Scotch.
posted by ericost at 6:45 AM on April 5, 2011


oh and can you all stop calling it "Scotch" its "Whiskey" (they make it in Ireland too you know...

If it's made in Scotland, it's spelled "whisky." "Whiskey" is what's made everywhere else.
posted by The Michael The at 6:50 AM on April 5, 2011


If it's made in Scotland, it's spelled "whisky." "Whiskey" is what's made everywhere else.

Well... almost everywhere else

(Beats hasty retreat)
posted by ComfySofa at 7:23 AM on April 5, 2011


That sounds tasty; I hate hot toddies and this looks like a nice alternative. I'm trying it out tonite for a desert party and I will credit you!
posted by pintapicasso at 8:23 AM on April 5, 2011


Well... almost everywhere else

(Beats hasty retreat)


QED. What do the English know about making whisk(e)y?
posted by The Michael The at 9:50 AM on April 5, 2011


Really? Scotch and tea? I last had that on Sunday. Best of luck to you, but it's not original. The literal best you could do is the momentum that your marketing buzz and brand names could create. I don't disagree that it's quite tasty... because it is. But it's not going to rock any worlds on its own merit.

Here's your benefit in whole: Black & Grey.

That's your name and sales point. Failing that, something of a variant. "Ash in a Glass" (glash) That sort of thing. Promoted with black and white elegant photography wherein the only color is the "brown" in the glasses that the models are holding.

Want to retain my services as a marketer and graphic designer? (I'm both) Email me!
posted by carlh at 5:52 PM on April 5, 2011


I'm pretty sure marketers are like boyfriends that make you feel bad about yourself only so they can come in and swoop you up at a low point.

Thanks carlh, but I'm good.

And just in case anybody is wondering... "Johnnie & Earl" was published in 1999 as a "thanks to:" in a PhD dissertation by a friend giving me credit. If I ever need proof, its in a few libraries, but only I know where it is...MUHAHAHA!

Friends with fantastic memories are the best.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:27 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


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