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Last Call: The Year Was 1937

Posted on  | August 17, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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What’s in a name when it comes to a cocktail? A lot, according to the New York State Supreme Court back in the freewheeling first years following the Repeal of Prohibition.

During those struggling economic times, some bars and restaurants in New York City took advantage of consumers by substituting lesser-quality rums for Bacardi when serving so-called “Bacardi cocktails.” Standing up for the consumer’s right to get what was ordered and to protect the quality of cocktails, family-owned Bacardi took legal action against these bars and restaurants.

The case was decided by the New York Supreme Court in April of 1936 and reaffirmed in 1937. A turning point occurred when Bacardi attorneys called the judge’s own bartender to testify—and asked him what rum he used in the judge’s favorite Bacardi cocktail. His response: only Bacardi Rum. Some other bartenders testified they used the handiest bottle of any rum available. With that, Justice John L. Walsh, ruled: “Beyond a reasonable doubt subterfuge and a fraud is subjected on the purchaser when Bacardi rum is left out of a drink listed as a Bacardi cocktail.”

Aiming to get the maximum mileage out of their legal victory, Bacardi in turn created a series of print ads that ran from the late 1930s through the 1950s under the theme that “Nothing Takes the Place of Bacardi.”


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