Cocktail Godfather Wants a Bar FightS

Eben Freeman has had it with the injustice done to bartenders. "Someone needs to get sued," the "molecular mixologist" tells The Atlantic. Cocktails used to be intoxicating fun, but now they could land you in legal trouble.

Freeman — a "best New York bartender" and "cocktail master" — recently convened an industry seminar about how to protect the intellectual property involved in making cocktails, as The Atlantic reports. Copyright law, trademarks and patents were all discussed.

But none seem to be much use: Patents cover only functionally useful and non-obvious inventions, which excludes most drinks; copyright covers only the phrasing of a recipe and not the ingredients or proportions; and trademarking will only protect the name of your drink (if you police it) but not what actually goes into it.

What is a Very Serious Mixer of Booze — say, the guy who invented smoked Coke and who pioneered edible cocktails — to do if he's itching to sue a copycat poseur? Keep all his recipes a secret, basically:

[Attorney] Sheila Morrison advised bartenders and mixologists to think about who they are giving their recipes to, and what types of recipes they are giving away.

Managers may find that in teaching employees how to make a certain ingredient or mix a certain drink, they've given away trade secrets. Along the same lines, employees might not realize until it's too late that they inadvertently gave permission for the free use of their ideas or are restricted in what ideas they can take with them.

So the next time you ask your bartender for the proportions on that yummy concoction of mezcal, sorrel, hibiscus bitters, Chartreuse, egg whites and whatever other trendy ingredients you're guzzling, don't be surprised if you just get an icy stare in return. It might seem counterintuitive, but bars might soon become some of the most secure storehouses of intellectual property in the world. Doesn't that sound like a relaxing and fun sort of place to unwind?