Tuskegee Experiment Comes To Westport

What does the Tuskegee Experiment have to do with Westport?

On the surface, nothing.

But the infamous incident — in which the US Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, spent 40 years tracking the progression of untreated syphilis in black men — popped up as the name of a cocktail at 323 restaurant.

According to a report on the Eater food blog, “It’s unclear what the cocktail — featuring ‘Myers dark rum, Malibu, pineapple juice, fresh lime, pineapple & jalapeño mash, dash tabasco’ — has to do with this disturbing period in American history.”

Westporter Eric Armour posted a photo of the specialty drink menu — including other names like Sucker Punch, The Queen Bee and The Red October — on social media. He wrote: “Umm. This is ridiculously horrible.”

Yesterday morning, Eater called the Main Street restaurant. A woman said “she removed all of the cocktail menus on Sunday following a customer complaint.”

Eater pledged to get more information on how the drink was named The Tuskegee Experiment in the first place.

I called 323 last night, and asked to speak to a manager about this story. The person answering the phone said, “We’re kind of busy right now.”

(Click here for the full Eater story. Hat tips: Bart Shuldman and William Strittmatter)

13 responses to “Tuskegee Experiment Comes To Westport

  1. I’m guessing — but this sounds to me like a roomful of clueless millenials were sitting around, someone said it out loud and they thought the name might sound cool, and out of sheer ignorance made a pretty big blunder. Someone in their educational pasts may also have neglected teaching them not to name cocktails after catchy-sounding things like Kristallnacht, Wounded Knee, Nagasaki or Spanish Flu.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      This seems a bit of a mean spirited, precipitous, and unnecessary dig at Millennials. The rest of your comment could stand without it.

      • Easy does it, really meant as a bit of fun. I support 323 and they quickly corrected, so kudos to them. And after all, some of my favorite children are millenials, and in our household, making snarky comments about generations is a form of entertainment. (How many baby boomers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Five: one to talk about how great it is they’ve all come together to do it, one to screw it in, one to film it, one to plan a marketing strategy around it and one to reminisce about group nude bulb-screwing in the 60s). I have an advertising background and amusing yet catastrophic branding blunders are daily grist. Like when one agency created a character – they settled on an animated octopus – to market Secret deodorant in Japan. Unfortunately, it turned out the Japanese describe octopi as having “legs”, not “arms” — oops. So this minor drinking-naming faux pas takes its rightful place among many similar snafus.

  2. Michael McGovern

    Perhaps Ben and Jerry had the same gaps in their education having named an ice cream flavor after the Black and Tans, a brutal volunteer force of unemployed WWI officers sent by Britain to Ireland during the Irish Civil War to conduct the nasty business of torturing and killing both IRA soldiers and civilians, and destroying civilian property with impunity. Among the hundreds they killed was my grandfather’s 17 year old brother.

  3. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I vaguely recall there was a cocktail in vogue at some point in our sordid history called Montezuma’s Revenge.

  4. A drink named “The Tuskegee Experiment” doesn’t make me thirsty. Alternatively, “The Royal Root Beer Float” sounds pretty good! Agreed with Mr. Seaver on this one, sounds like a bunch of wannabee intellectuals thinking they are smart and dumbly failing in their ill-conceived effort. For the record, I live nearby and walk past 323 each night on my way home. Thursday nights are VERY busy there…So the implication that they blew off the caller is likely wrong and in fact legitimate.

  5. Dave Feliciano

    The Tuskegee Airmen’s, perchance the Cocktail could be experimental Drink.

    And really how many people know of our medical professional and Government disgraceful treatment of the Afro Americans, that is so reminiscent of our German-Nazi, or the Japanese Medical atrocities during the War II. Or our own concentration camps?

  6. With all the local businesses closing in the area and Main St turning into a ghost town, we should be supporting this and the few other local businesses that are left. I doubt they had any bad intentions in naming the cocktail, and if this article is correct, they immediately pulled it off the list once they became aware of the connotation. I’ve never been there, but now I’m going to go check it out and give them by business.

  7. Reign Kinseley

    As a BLACK employee at 323, I can attest to the fact that any employees, management, or owners are NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT racist or inconsiderate to our countries historical marks. Quite frankly, I’m extremely proud to be serving at a restaurant that can acknowledge and hopefully educate at ALL aspects of history, even the shameful ones because ignoring history leads to repetition.

  8. Nancy Cardozo

    Reign Kinsley, thank you for your comment. These are very strange times and it’s good to know that this was just a mistake made by decent people. This story is quickly spreading on the internet, so I hope the owners of the restaurant will put out an apology/explanation fast, before the internet mob starts gathering.

  9. My wife and I complained to the bartender about this menu item several weeks ago, trying to explain how offensive it was. Seems like nobody cares until there was negative publicity.

  10. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I don’t believe that all Whites are privileged or bigot challenged but it strains credibility (even mine) to insist that the inventor of this dog whistle concoction was not fully aware of the true origin/meaning of its name. What’s next??? Mengele’s Martini? The Wallace Wall-banger? The White Russian Collusion?
    Why not move beyond beverage and into food: The Anti(fa)pasto? Mussolini Linguini? Or back to beverages: The Hirohito Mojito? Personally as a “executive” I always “order” a 9066 because you have to drink it slowly it lasted from 1942 to 1945. Nisei guys always finish last. Dan The Torpedos!!! Full Speed Ahead!!! Woog’s World!!! Party Time!!! Excellent!!!!

  11. Kevin McCaul

    Dan, It’s in the news:

    https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Westport-restaurant-removes-racially-insensitive-13172399.php

    Would you believe that the manager doesn’t know anything about it??