Connecticut Bar Gets Blasted After Naming a Cocktail After the Racist Tuskegee Experiment

Connecticut Bar Gets Blasted After Naming a Cocktail After the Racist Tuskegee Experiment

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The Tuskegee Experiment is one of the most shameful parts of America’s history. So, of course, the 323 Bar and Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut decided the best way to honor the victims was a Tuskegee Experiment drink. But when a photograph of the bar’s cocktail menu went viral, the restaurant removed the menus.

The Tuskegee Experiment was a 40-year study, lasting from 1932 to 1972, that examined untreated syphilis in black men. Even though penicillin had been a known cure for syphilis since the ’40s, the study continued, denying the men any medical care for their syphilis. Instead, the men were only told they were receiving free health care to treat their “bad blood,” a local term used to describe several illnesses, including syphilis, anemia and fatigue. But, of course, they received no actual treatment for their disease.

The victims of the study, which was conducted by the United States Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute, were not given the opportunity to consent to the study. They only received free exams, meals and burial insurance, but never any compensation for their suffering or symptoms associated with their worsening syphilis (which included genital lesions, painful rashes, large tumors and organ failure).

Though the study was planned to last only six months, it only ended in 1972 after the Associated Press broke the story.

The cocktail menu with the Tuskegee Experiment drink, photo by Eric A. Armour.

This isn’t really a part of history you’d expect to honor with a cocktail. (If you’re curious, the Tuskegee Experiment drink was made of “Myers dark rum, Malibu, pineapple juice, fresh lime, pineapple and jalapeño mash” with a dash of tabasco.)

When a man named Eric Armour posted a photo of the cocktail menu to Facebook, the backlash was swift, and 323 removed the cocktail menus last Sunday after customers complained.

The Tuskegee Experiment drink might not be the only offensive cocktail on the menu. The bar also has a “Capetown Transfusion.” Though not as obvious as the Tuskegee Experiment, it’s likely this drink refers to the spread of HIV via blood transfusions in South Africa.

Offensive cocktail names are nothing new, however. After all, one of the most popular drinks in the U.S. is the “Irish Car Bomb,” named in reference to the many car-bombings in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles,” the fight over anti-Catholic discrimination in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

Have you seen any cocktail names as offensive as the Tuskegee Experiment drink?

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