At the beginning of the year, I wrote about a delicious cocktail whose name many of you cannot use when making, at least not legally. The trick is that it has a brand name in its name, and a nearly one hundred year old court case requires that you use Bacardi brand rum when you make it.
I thought it was a cute story that gave a neat hook to write about a delicious, accessible cocktail.
I also thought it was unique.
Not so fast,
Exactly. The New York Times lets me know differently. A couple of weeks ago, they published an article by Johnathan Miles, entitled,
The Dark ‘n’ Stormy is an iconic Bermudan cocktail made from dark rum and ginger beer.
Except it isn’t.
This is the only recipe for a Dark ‘n Stormy. The only recipe….
- 1.5 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
- ginger beer
Put ginger beer and large ice in a small collins glass. Add Gosling’s gently to layer on top of the glass. Serve with a straw or swizzle stick. Adding a squeeze of lime is of questionable legality, but pretty tasty.
I say this is the only recipe because Gosling’s holds the registered trademark for the name and recipe for the Dark ‘n Stormy. And Gosling’s protects that intellectual property, says the Times:
“We defend that trademark vigorously, which is a very time-consuming and expensive thing,” said E. Malcolm Gosling Jr., whose family has owned Gosling’s since its founding in Bermuda in 1806. “That’s a valuable asset that we need to protect.”
During the course of the interview, Miles apparently got another rum company sued. He described an ad in Imbibe that had previously escaped Gosling’s notice. Thanks are due all-round from the billable hours club.
The Dark ‘n Stormy is undergoing something of a renaissance these days driven by several factors, I surmise.
- The retro cocktail movement in general
- The increase in general use of premium and niche rum
- and the fact that it’s a pretty good drink.
You may well be taken aback by your first ever sip of this drink. Gosling’s is a distinctively pungent rum, and takes a moment or two to get used to. You can serve the drink layered or mixed, and I specify the straw or swizzle so you can easily alter the cocktail from the first state to the second. Until you are used to the flavor profile of this rum, I’d try your first Dark ‘n Stormy mixed.
At the Velvet Tango Room in Cleveland, my friend Paulius makes his Dark ‘n Stormys with the required Gosling’s. He told me, if I remember correctly, that it’s really the only way to make the drink really work. At the VTR, they give you your Dark ‘n Stormy layered beautifully, with a pretty large caliber straw. Paulius suggests that you plunge the straw into the drink and sip, then remove the straw and drop it in again. This way you get the Gosling’s and the ginger beer flavors in mini layers with each sip, increasing the apparent complexity and interest of the drink.
So if you run a bar, and want to try serving this interesting and delicious acquired taste, be sure to make them with the right rum. It’s a unique drink, and to preserve that character, you need to make it with the unique rum it was created to employ. It’s the legal thing to do, the right thing to do as well, because the only paper you want lawyers to hand you is green, with engraved portraits on it.
In my series on the Four Gospels of Cocktail, I called various variations on those classic drinks,
Heresies. But mixing your Daiquiris in a blender with strawberries will only get you laughed out of the finer bars. With the Dark ‘n Stormy, the Inquisition is real!