That’s My Name – Giving Your Cocktail A Proper Moniker

Now Christmas and New Year are done it’s the time of year when bars start to look at their next cocktail menu.

Spring and summer flavours will be bandied about, obscure cocktail recipes will be uncovered, new bits of technology will be googled with the faint hope they’ll be in the January sale. Before you know it the bones of a cocktail menu will take form but there is one element that all to often gets overlooked.

They have won and lost competitions, they have seen drinks fly off menus or sink without a trace, yet it is still all to often the element of a new drink given the least amount of thought. It’s all in the name.

Your parents were dicks

Sometimes it’s shame, sometimes it’s a disaster and once in a while it’s offensive. It was a press release we received recently that featured the final of these categories that was the catalyst for this article, but more on that later.

What To Consider?

The fact is that there are many elements to consider when coming up with the name of a drink. Firstly it has to be easy for the customers to pronounce. It might be cool to use the Spanish word for Orange instead of the boring old english but Anaranjado is not a word that most can pronounce easily. It will likely to put people off ordering the drink simply to avoid embarrassment.

It also has to be memorable, there is nothing more frustrating during a busy service than speaking to a couple of customers at the bar or on a table and having the following conversation:

Bartender: Hi folks what can I get for you?
Customer 1: I’ll have an Old Fashioned please.
Bartender: Of course, and for you sir?
Customer 2: Ohhh I’d love to try your……… now what was it called?? (frantic flicking through menu ensues)
Bartender: Ummmm can I help? What was the base spirit?
Customer 2: (rapidly getting more flustered) I think it was gin….. or maybe rum….. it’s here somewhere, I saw it just before you came over.
Bartender: Was it the ‘Starlight Walk Beneath The Canopy Of Forgotten Lime Trees’?
Customer 2: No, no, not that one……. ahhh there it is, can I please have a ‘Keat’s and Byron’s Mango Love Child Swizzle’ please?

If you want to speed up service make the name easy to remember, you’ll thank yourself.

Whilst we’re on the subject of making life easier and more enjoyable for you and your staff think about how the name could be interpreted (bearing in mind you’ll always have some twats in your bar). I was in a bar a few years ago which had a great drink on the menu using Poire William. It ticked the first two boxes, easy to pronounce and remember, it was the ‘Lovely Pear’.

Unfortunately, for the very patient female floor staff member on that night, there was a group of drunk, loud blokes in the bar. As she approached the table with a tray of drinks she was greeted with a chorus of ‘Let me give you a had with your lovely pairs darlin’, ‘Can’t wait to get my lips on your lovely pair’ etc etc. Not making for a pleasant working environment.

Sometimes a name can’t help

The final rule should be the most obvious yet unfortunately it can still rear it’s ugly head, don’t let it be offensive.

This is where the aforementioned email comes in, which proudly announced a free ‘Spiked Hot Chocolate’ in a London bar. Whilst we appreciate ‘spiked’ is a term that has been used to describe adding a flavour to a drink for a long time, in this day and age its other meaning, specifically when it comes to hospitality, has surely made it a word to avoid when naming a drink. There are lists and lists on the internet of other offensively named drinks. The fact is they may not offend you but are they likely to offend others? In this respect we would suggest caution.

Classic Drinks, Classic Names

There has been a welcome return to classic flavours in recent years, with ingredient numbers being paired back however the number of words in a cocktail name seem to have been increasing. It appears as if people have run out of words.

It doesn’t have to be overly clever, most classic cocktail names aren’t after all, however if you are struggling, try thinking out of the box a little. Andy had a look at some words which may inspire you if you’re feeling stuck (and whilst some may be a bit tricky to pronounce they should get your creative juices going).

Finally please google the name you come up with to check you aren’t nicking someone else’s work. Sure if there is one side mention on an obscure website about a cocktail they had in 1932 in a bar in Peru then you’re fine, just check it isn’t a well known drink.

As far as competitions go these rules apply, but there are a few more things to consider which are covered in more detail in the wonderful (not in anyway bias) Cocktail Competition Handbook.

Cocktail names are hugely important so please give yourself time when creating your menu to come up with great names.

Oh and we can’t leave an article on cocktail names without looking at the world of puns. Hitting their heyday a few years back with a series of corkers, they aren’t as simple as they may seem. To really shine they not only have to be funny but the best also let the consumer know what they are getting flavour-wise in their glass. For a period everything Gareth Evans touched turned to gold with some of our favourites including – Dill, Or No Dill; 99 Problems But A Birch Ain’t One and Vermouth? You Can’t Handle Vermouth.