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Cocktail names: War is popular, but not right now

First there was the French Revolution. Then came the London Blitz, followed by Hiroshima.

While it might seem that a Baghdad Bomber would be well on its way to joining the ranks of violently titled cocktails, experts say it’s just too soon for today’s battles to storm the bar.

“If and when the war in Iraq ends, then there will be such drinks. But right now it is too delicate of a subject,” said Gary Regan, a cocktail historian. “In cocktails, we tend to celebrate or commemorate only things that are fairly popular.”

Regan, author of “The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft" and other books for cocktail connoisseurs, pointed to the French 75s and Kamikazes as examples of drinks commemorating aspects of World Wars I and II.

He then added, “It’s not like us to name things after something that isn’t particularly tasteful.”

Ever since cocktail recipes first flourished during Prohibition (some say to cover up the foul taste of bootleg alcohol), matters of war have inspired mixologists seeking to name new concoctions. Still, experts say that political sensitivities weigh heavily when deciding what the public can swallow.

“The trends in cocktail names are like the trends in anything else at the moment,” said celebrity bartender Philip Duff. “Laid back, understated, restrained, but made with the utmost professionalism and the best possible ingredients.” He likened cocktail titling to an exercise in taste: “more George Clooney than Jim Carrey.”

As any military man will tell you, alcohol and war have been linked since well before soldiers started swigging Shooters or Shots. Legend has it that the Martini was named for the Martini-Henry rifle, used by the British army in the late 1800s and known for its strong kick. Remember the Maine, consisting of chilled rye whiskey, vermouth and absinthe, commemorates American protests over Spain’s sinking of a ship in 1898.

A quick Internet trawl found more than 25 alcoholic beverages with ties to war. The volatile names include traumatic events (Nagasaki Shooter) and deadly weaponry.

Explosives seem to be the most popular, like the Hand Grenade and the Sake-, Jaeger-, Cherry- and A-bombs. Then there are the heavy guns: Artillery Shots, Howitzers, Bazooka Bombers, Kalashnikovs and the B-52. Air attacks have inspired many a cocktail as well: War Clouds, Black Hawks, Tomahawks and Stealth Bombers.

Just ordering these drinks can create a sensation reminiscent of the battlefield: More than one Red Death cocktail will get you bombed, if not downright wasted. Depth Chargers and Man-O'-Wars can set off minefields of reactions not limited to a vicious hangover.

“Those drinks are going to make you vomit,” said Chris Halleron, who tends bar at Duffy’s in Hoboken, N.J.

In addition to the nasty aftereffects, he finds some warlike monikers outrageous.

“It’s not a nice name for a cocktail,” said Halleron, referring to the Irish Car Bomb. “The term ‘bomb’ isn’t all that offensive, but it’s kind of tasteless when you tie it to something as sensitive as sectarian violence and the resulting casualties.”

Halleron certainly would not take issue with the World Peace Cocktail, unveiled at the Trump World Tower Bar, located opposite the United Nations.

The drink was dreamed up by Jonathan Pogash, who creates signature cocktails for fancy restaurants and hotels. Made with gin, blue curacao, lemon juice and flavored syrups, the cocktail is garnished with, what else, a white chocolate dove.

E-mail: csv2113@columbia.edu