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Gosling’s lawsuit over Dark ‘n Stormy recipe

Creating a storm: Offending tipple

The recipe for the beloved Bermudian Dark ‘n Stormy is now at the heart of a legal action in the United States.

Gosling Brothers Ltd has filed a trademark infringement complaint in Massachusetts federal court against Pernod Chicard — the makers of Malibu Rum — over a recipe which appeared on Pernod’s website.

The offending post, made in October last year, called for Malibu Rum and Angostura bitters to be mixed with ginger beer to create a “Dark n’ Stormy”.

The defendant also produced YouTube videos showing how to mix the “unauthorised” cocktail, along with a “Black Stormy” made with Malibu Black Rum.

According to the lawsuit, the official recipe for a Dark ‘n Stormy calls for 1.5 ounces of Goslings Black Seal Rum, 4 to 5 ounces of ginger beer and ice, garnished with a lime wedge. While the brand of ginger beer is not specified in the recipe — allowing fans of Barritt’s ginger beer respite — Black Seal Rum is.

The federal complaint, filed on Tuesday, notes that Gosling’s heavily advertises using the Dark ‘n Stormy brand, including the Dark ‘n Stormy boardroom at Fenway Park, the Dark ‘n Stormy Tavern at the PGA Tour’s Deutsche Bank Championship and the Dark ‘n Stormy Bear Trap at the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic tournament.

“The defendant’s actions are knowing, wilful, deliberate and performed with the interest to trade off of Gosling’s goodwill and reputation tied to the iconic Dark ‘n Stormy marks,” the complaint states. “The defendant’s wrongful conduct has caused or will cause Gosling’s to lose control over the goodwill and reputation associated with the Dark ‘n Stormy marks.

“The plaintiffs have suffered damages, and Pernod has profited or been unjustly enriched as the result of defendant’s wrongful conduct. The defendant’s actions have irreparably harmed plaintiffs, their business, reputation and goodwill.

“Unless defendant’s wrongful conduct is enjoined, plaintiffs will continue to suffer irreparable injury and harm, for which there is no adequate remedy at law.”

The Dark ‘n Stormy has been a Bermudian staple since shortly after the First World War, reportedly earning its name because when properly mixed it was “colour of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under”.

The recipe was first trademarked in the US in 1991 when Gosling’s began to sell pre-made cans of the cocktail, making it one of only a handful of trademarked cocktails. The trademark itself has served as a marketing tool for Gosling’s, with one advertisement stating: “Most cocktails come with a napkin. The Dark ‘n Stormy comes with a trademark.”

Goslings has defended its trademark from alleged infringement on several occasions, including recently launching an action against the makers of Kraken Rum, Proximo Spirits, for their attempt to trademark the name “Kraken Storm” for a cocktail made with ginger beer and Kraken Rum.

Earlier this month, magazine Drinks International named the Dark ‘n Stormy 11th in its top 50 cocktails after a survey of the top 50 bars in the world, beating out the Singapore Sling, the Cosmopolitan and the Mint Julep.