I imagine the initial, knee-jerk reaction of many is to call this poppy and/or cock. Just think of some of the possible consequences:
- Bartenders and bars forming many-tentacled conglomerates in an effort to pool money and resources to protect their so-claimed signature recipes
- Nasty legal suits because some innocent bev manager’s idea for a Manhattan with Cynar has already been done
- Recipe trolls who go about trademarking as many cocktails as they possibly can
- Being forced to go to a set network of bars to enjoy particular cocktails due to licensing battles
But, on the other hand, if you work your ass off to craft new flavor extraction processes and then test out a hundred different combinations to get the exact ratio for a house cocktail that is wildly successful, don’t you deserve some credit? Is that really so much to ask for?
The answer, as with so many things, is that it depends. Up to a certain level, cocktails are simply an exercise in combinatorics and technique. If you’re crafting a four ingredient drink, there are a finite number of common, commercial items and a finite number of accepted units of measurement. It seems naive (at best) to believe that the Manhattan variation you made with a quarter ounce of Cynar is inconceivable by all but the most brilliant minds. You simply got there first.
So, rewarding true innovation and acts of daring-do seems apt–but not through legal trinkets and commendations. Instead, I believe there should be continued (and increased) consumer education about what’s going on with everyone who wants to have a voice in the industry–professionals, hobbyists, retirees, enthusiasts and so on. This kind of sharing puts the spotlight on innovators, fosters further exploration and helps defend against territory disputes. Everyone wins: those putting their ideas out there get publicity and consumers get more choice.