There are plenty of alternatives when it comes to naming a cocktail and some of them will be better than others, but one thing is certain: the name will directly impact the sales.
It’s 2013 and we have left behind the 90’s with the overused formula: “(Apple) + Martini”, right? Well….not really to tell you the truth. Let’s have a look at any random contemporary cocktail bar menu and we find the same formula still in existence: “(city/person/fruit/herb/noun, etc.) + family cocktail”. What has changed though is that with today’s cocktail trends and higher levels of professionalism among bartenders, we’re seeing more cocktail families (correctly) used. Now we may find “Apple fizz” or “Blackberry Cobbler” or “Gin Basil Smash” being served in the same way that Gin Cocktails, N.O. Gin fizzes or St. Croix Daisies were served 100+ yrs. ago. There is nothing wrong with this ancient technique, indeed it can contribute to intrigue and educate the guests while helping the staff to know what it’s in the drink. Yet if this were the only naming method used, we’ll be missing on Mojitos, Piña Coladas, Sidecars, Zombies and South-sides.
On the other hand, random words or naming drinks in honor of your beloved girlfriend* won’t always do the trick when it comes to business; neither will do using Spanish words just because you’re using Sherry, Pisco or Tequila (like the “Oye mi canto” from the Artesian bar in London, or Bloody Maria for a tequila based Bloody Mary, named like this at least since 1960’s). (* On the other hand grandmothers ,mothers, uncles and aunties name usually do work and people may buy Uncle Tom’s flip in Christmas season).
There is indeed a lot behind a name, such as trends, your guests’ interests, their age or your bar mood and concept just to name a few things that you need to consider.
In an article from 2011 the author refers to a study showing that people on diet avoid some foods by its name before reading the ingredients itself. They may happen to pick a less healthy option that carries a healthy name and end up completely out of their diet without been fully aware but convinced that they’ve picked the right one. The word Smoothie for example sounds healthier than milkshake (and goes hand in hand with today’s concern for health); while the word batida will instantly transport them to holidays on the beach and tropical fruits, even though a real batida has plenty of condensed milk, not appropriate for your bikini size.
Think about how you react to “fruits blended with lemon sorbet” Vs. “fruits blended with lemon ice cream”. Which one has more sugar and more calories?
So the next time that you have to name a drink consider your purpose and the role of that drink within the menu and your offer. If you have a drink that tastes really good but its ingredients may carry a negative image or fact that may put off your clients, try to find a name that will disguise negative facts. For example, a traditionally made Piña Colada demanded some effort to be made, but today it takes very little effort, yet the word “colada” (strained) was and still is a huge fact in its popularity giving it a sense of real craft while hiding the fact that it has plenty of sugar and is made by almost carelessly blending the ingredients for 15 seconds. There’s a reason why the Coco loco didn’t make it to the hall of fame. Words can enhance a cocktail but can also distract the guest so they don’t notice what you want to hide about it. “Colada” speaks craft, in the same way as Infused or Aged or Maestro or Special or A la minute or Bartender’s choice have connotations as well.
Avoid names with negative references because they usually don’t work (like a brain hemorrhage that will crowd your bar with shot slammers). The same with childish names, you’re selling a luxury not Fruit loops. Try to come up with names that are specific to your product, this will help its sales and makes things easier for your customers; it will also speed up the service. Not every single name has to be glamorous, remember that you need contrast to appreciate the tones. Avoid funny sentences or word combinations if they have nothing to do with the drink, write them down and keep them for a future recipe. Yet if you still want to use them, make sure that you clearly communicate what’s in the drink so the guest knows what he/she’ll get. Think about the Penicillin or the Albermale fizz, you know the latest is a fizz, but with this information, do you know what any of those drinks taste like? But if I tell you a Honey suckle or Bee’s Knees, you’ll certainly know that it has honey in its flavor profile. Or what about Hot buttered rum….you can’t miss that one. And what about the Aviation or the Alexander? Well, those are pretty useless name on their own and they’ll need some description backing them up.
This list of cocktail families may give you some ideas:
cocktail, slings, sour, fizz, cobbler, punch, plush, daisy, flips, toddies, fixes, frappe, collins, crusta, grog, highball, rickey, julep, pousse café, smash, swizzle, cooler, sangaree, etc.
And for a list of useful words that will help you sell more check out this other post
Be my guest, Lucas Ranzuglia