Is there copyright in cocktails?

Copyright is known as the exclusive right of an author, publisher or licensee. This is to exploit a literary, scientific or artistic work. But what about cocktails? Can we attribute copyright to a cocktail?

According to lawyer Andrea Mealey, an expert in legal work who has participated for Gosling’s Rum, for the law a cocktail does not have that necessary artistic attribute. In other words, for the law it is something “factual”.

“A mere list of ingredients or content, or a few simple addresses, is not attributable to copyright. The US Copyright Office affirms.

Many bartenders are recognized for specific creations. For example, Eben Freeman created a technique known as “Fat Washing,” in which you give a spirit the taste of, say, bacon through an infusion. Many bars have seen a recipe for Bacon Old Fashioned beyond the door of their bar. No attribution, however, is recognized to Freeman. “There is an implicit trade in our intellectual property. But we have less protection than anyone else,” he says.

In fact, in order for some creation of the world of the drink to be registered, one must know how to walk through the labyrinths of trademark logistics. There are trademark classes, such as Class 32. There are specific types of beverages that meet a standard to be registered.

That’s what Gosling’s Rum did. For the Dark & Stormy cocktail, they simply used trademarks for beverages that were already registered in their name: Gosling’s rum and Gosling’s ginger beer.


So, can I really register a cocktail?

What can be done, however, are contracts that specify after the opening of a bar, who provides the names of the drinks or invents the menu. This is what Daniel Eun, a lawyer and former bartender, recommends. Think bigger, with heavier items to protect smaller things.

To learn more about possible solutions for recording cocktail creations, you can read Nathan Matisse’s article.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.


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