Abstract

The Bacardi cocktail was the Cosmopolitan of the Jazz Age: a sweet and sour tipple with an attractive rosy hue and a deceptively alcoholic punch. Created in about 1913, and named after Bacardi rum, it soon became one of the most popular cocktails in America. Prohibition only increased its popularity, as wealthy Americans vacationing in Cuba enjoyed Bacardi cocktails and demanded them at speakeasies and at home. Of course, every good speakeasy offered white rum (or a passable facsimile thereof) and called it “bacardi” no matter who made it. After Repeal, the popularity of the Bacardi cocktail continued to rise as the Bacardi Company launched an ambitious advertising campaign. But for many people, “bacardi” just meant white rum. When a customer asked for a “Bacardi cocktail,” many bartenders used whatever white rum they had on hand. So, the Bacardi Company faced a dilemma. It was thrilled to be the namesake of the “it” cocktail but feared the dilution or loss of its trademark. While it wanted everyone to drink Bacardi cocktails, it also wanted them to insist on Bacardi rum. Accordingly, in 1936, Bacardi filed a trademark infringement action in New York state court, accusing the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel and the Wivel Restaurant of making Bacardi cocktails without Bacardi rum. After a colorful trial, the court issued an injunction, holding a Bacardi cocktail had to include Bacardi rum. It was probably the first time a court had opined on mixological law, and it became the centerpiece of the Bacardi Company's new advertising campaign. But was the court right? When people ordered a Bacardi cocktail, did they actually expect the bartender to use Bacardi rum, or did they simply expect to receive a cocktail made with white rum? Was the “Bacardi” in “Bacardi cocktail” the name of the drink or the rum? And what exactly was a “Bacardi cocktail” anyway?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 2018

Notes/Citation Information

Brian L. Frye, "It's Your #!": A Legal History of the Bacardi Cocktail, 27 U. Miami Bus. L. Rev. 1 (2018).

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.