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Don’t Just Pour It, Name It

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Don’t Just Pour It, Name It
Text by Bob Sherrier / Photos by Jennifer Hitchcock and Tim Hussey

So you just created a new cocktail and don’t know what to call it. While there are no rules when it comes to dubbing a drink, a cocktail’s name can influence both its success and audience (you don’t see many muscle-bound bikers wheeling in and ordering an appletini). A drink’s name can invoke a host of associations and allusions: danger, sophistication, temperature, seasons, exotic lands, texture, unique ingredients, brand names. There is a lot to consider.

To ease you along your journey let’s take a look back through TLP’s own beverage archives. It just might give you the inspiration you need to get started.

While there are many routes you can take when christening your newest concoction, a common tactic is to make a musical reference. Our archives have purple drinks named after Prince songs (Purple Rain), refreshing cucumber beverages for OutKast (So Fresh, So Clean), and dark amber-colored mixes for Led Zeppelin (Physical Graffiti). There is also the Manu Chao, Blitzkrieg Pop (for all you Ramones fans out there) and, after the patron saint of dimly-lit rooms, the Tom Waits for No Man.

If you’re like me and like a nice groan-inducing pun, then you might enjoy the sherbet flavored Sure, Bert! or the Suspiciously Absinthe. How about a nice, sweet tea flavored Mo-Tea-To or the Orange You Glad We Make Whiskey? Any way you slice it, there seems to be a bottomless well of drink puns.

Another, time-tested method involves naming based on the dominant liquor and its attendant associations. For instance, vodka-based libations frequently have a Russian component (Moscow Mule, White Russian), Rum maintains its connection with swashbucklers though the grog has evolved (The Privateer), and of course if you want to title a tasty tequila drink then a Spanish nombre is preferred (el Matador, el Muerto Verde).

If that doesn’t work for you, maybe color will. The Red Headed Stranger and Green Thumb are prime examples of the type from TLP’s own online drink recipes. The Ruby’s Slipper’s blood-red name points to another major theme among cocktail coiners, literature. The Bard pops up twice in our archives with The Tempest and By Any Other Name. Other literary references include, the Great Gatsby (The Gatsby, East Egg, West Egg) and Narnia (Dawn Treader)…

The options are endless and these few examples should illustrate that the creativity of cocktail crafters extends beyond the cup.