Same Drink, Different Name…

Same Drink, Different Name.  Different Drink, Same Name.

DJ Hawaiian Shirt has recently had a bit of a bug up his butt about how similar many of these Savoy Cocktails are, commenting,  “I’m peeved by the liberal naming of new cocktails when they’re almost 100% the same.”

I can’t say I’m that “peeved” exactly, having developed a certain fondness for drinks composed of 2/3 Gin, 1/3 Dry Vermouth.  But to explain the factors as I see them.

First, some have called “The Savoy Cocktail Book” the first example of cocktail “shovelware”.

That is to say, a bunch of different books compiled into a single book, with little or no editorial input.  Personally, I always imagine Harry Craddock’s involvement in the thing as walking into an office with a pile of his pre-prohibition cocktail books and maybe the Savoy “Black Book” of recipes.  Telling them to have at it, and then going back to running the bar without ever really peeking back in at the result.  How else to explain all the typos and misprints?

We know his sources included Robert Vermeire, Harry McElhone, Judge Jr., and Hugo Ensslin.  Undoubtedly there are others, the South African book with all the Caperitif recipes for example.  Or the home cocktail and entertaining manual with all the recipes for multiple guests.

So that’s one reason, there are a few different recipes with the same name, or different recipes with the same name.  There are, after all, only so many ingredients in the classic cocktail canon.

A recent experience at Heaven’s Dog, highlighted another possible explanation.

A customer asked me for a drink that Lane Ford, (now of Delarosa,) had been making for them.

I sent Lane a text, asking him for the recipe for his, “Derby Fizz”.

He texted back with the recipe adding, “It’s really just EA’s Whiskey Fizz, from our bar book.”

On one hand, you could get peeved.  On the other hand, he’d thought up a memorable new name for a tasty drink that had been languishing under an uninspired moniker.  Memorable enough, that customers requested that drink under its new name.  Kind of genius, really.

Drinks don’t get made for lots of reasons pretty independent of their ultimate tastiness.  If they are too complicated, techniques too difficult, or the ingredients too obscure.  Or if the names don’t inspire customers or bartenders.

Nothing wrong with thinking up a better name for the same cocktail.

3 thoughts on “Same Drink, Different Name…

  1. It’s a fair comment, sometimes older drinks need a more modern, marketable name.

    What nights are you at Heaven’s Dog? I live right by there, been meaning to check it out. Will have to drop by and say high (and have a drink ;)

  2. :)

    Shed in this light, I think things are more clear so that I can say that I don’t think that the Savoy is a bad book… clearly not, because it has all these great recipes. But it certainly isn’t the most sveltely edited book either. The facts that 1) many of the similar/same cocktails may indeed be the result of “freshening up the name” and 2) said recipes only fatten the book to give it the visual of more value, they both scream “cheap marketing” to me, something which I quite dislike… and yet, I can’t discount the effectiveness and usefulness of both. And in the end, to be honest, I don’t dislike the fact that in this sense, it’s more of a library of recipes through the years than it is a “cream of the crop” pocket manual, and I’m ok with that. Anyway Erik, thanks for sharing your thoughts on it… and of course, now I’m obliged to stop complaining. You win this round.

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