The Spell Check

by Naren Young

Maybe it’s the journalist in me. Or maybe my previous work as an editor. Maybe I’m just completely anal retentive. Probably a little of each but either way, spelling mistakes on a cocktail menu leap right off the page at me and when I see them, which is far too often, it drives me f***ing bonkers! It’s a rare occurrence that I find a menu without a single mistake. To me it reeks of laziness – or stupidity – when a bar doesn’t care to put their menu through a simple spell check or jump on Google for a few minutes to get their list grammatically correct.

Increasingly, the cocktail menu has become a serious statement about a bar: who they are, what they stand for, how serious they are, what they’re capable of. Sure, cocktail menus have been around, I’m assuming, about as long as the cocktail itself (even though it would have likely been a verbal one early on). But with the proliferation of craft bartending and the classic cocktail renaissance that has occurred over the last decade, the cocktail menu has become so much more than a list of available drinks. It is an extension of the people that have curated it.

A world class cocktail menu can take months to put together and one only has to flip through the wonderful menu at New York’s Death & Co. to see how much effort the modern mixologist is putting into creating menus that are unique, dynamic and visually appealing. Apparently spelling things correctly, however, is not an important component in this process. Then again you could go the way of New York’s Milk & Honey, which has no menu at all and therefore doesn’t have to worry about spelling mistakes. Or a**holes like me correcting them. Food for thought...

Some Common Spelling Mistakes

I reached out to a bunch of industry friends on Twitter to ask what some of the most common and irritating spelling mistakes they often see on their trips around the world. No surprise that Jacob Briars came back with an essay full of examples, while the always detail-oriented Philip Duff and Angus Winchester called on their vast travels to also nominate a few examples of their own. Here is a list of what people sent me:

  • Caperina / Caiperinha
  • Tequilla (“common in Holland,” says Philip Duff)
  • Manhatten (David Wondrich)
  • Hemmingway (Jacob Briars – “In reference to the man as well as the Daiquiri. Why reference the man if you’ve obviously never read his books?”)
  • Bitter’s (@DoctorBamboo)
  • Quervo and Johnny Walker (@mixwithmike – South Africa)
  • Capricciosa / Caipiroska (Jacob Briars – “Which I think is a pizza, isn’t it?”)
  • Daquiri or Daqiri or Daiqiri
  • Liquer or Liqeur or Liquere
  • General use of apostrophes
  • Missing accents
  • Absolute vodka (@adamelmegirab)
  • Barcardi (Jacob Briars – “Many mistakes show a lack of care. I mean how many times have you picked up that bottle?”)
  • Margeritas / Barcadi / General use of apostrophes (@dirtyoldtown)
  • Tangeray and Myers (“Are the ones that bother me the most,” says Angus Winchester)
  • Frangelica / Cocktial / Guiness / Hennessey (@thomaskleiner)
  • Resposado

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