Thursday, March 17, 2016

Names on the Rocks

“My God, so much I like to drink Scotch that sometimes I think my name is Igor Stra-whiskey.”
Igor Stravinsky, composer

A friend jokingly asked me the other day if I had ever come across the name "Bourbon" in my name studies. At this point, I'm far less surprised at quirky names than I used to be, so I offered to look it up for real. Despite its similar sound to Brandon or Brayden, Bourbon has not surfaced as a name in US records. But it got me thinking - what other alcoholic names are on birth certificates?

Below, I've included a list of names and the number of babies born with the name in its most popular year. Be on the lookout for your favorite drink!

Brandy - 6,957 babies in 1981
This unisex name ranked high in the 1970's and 1980's, but now has been relegated to the back of the cupboard. Still, this might be the most popular alcohol-related name in English language history!

Champagne - 43 babies in 1991
I'm stumped - maybe I'm less imaginative than I thought. I suppose the French aura and elegant feeling add some positive traits, but I can't think of any nicknames. 

Chardonnay - 45 babies in 1999
The melody of Chardonnay is undeniable, and the nicknames Char and Donna are cute. Still, I'm having trouble separating this name from the wine entirely. 

Gin - 7 babies in 1973
I'm guessing the Jennifer wave included this related nickname; no word yet on whether any of these 7 little ones prefer this over other hard liquor. 

Guinness - 9 babies in 2009
I surprise myself with how cute I think this name is. Maybe it's because of Saint Patrick's Day! 

Hennessy - 78 babies in 2009
This Irish surname, like Kennedy, has that "first name feel". The name has been fairly stable over the last decade, but I can't attest to the staying power of cognac brands. 

Martini - 12 babies in 1981
Apparently 1981 was the year for drinking and naming! I'll admit, Martini is an adorable Martin honorific, but so is Marta. (Incidentally, the name Olive is currently climbing). 

Mead - 7 babies in both 1918 and 1924
A solid surname choice, and completely nickname-proof. Still, I'm having trouble visualizing this choice as anything other than a family name. 

Merlot - 5 babies in 2009
The same friend who asked about Bourbon thought that Merlot had a cute nickname, Meryl. I think the similarities to Margot and Marlowe helped popularize it for a brief moment in time. 

Porter - 889 babies in 2014
This is also an occupational and surname choice, so it's not strictly alcohol-related. Still, Porter might be the most popular drink name at the moment! (Port also showed up briefly in the 1910's). 

Rye - 48 babies in 2012
With Ryan and Ty recently added to the list of classics, it's no wonder Rye made it. I like the connection to Rey - definitely going to trend up - and it's just a sweet name altogether. 

Sangria - 11 babies in 1975
It literally means "bleeding" and pretty much always applies to alcohol when you hear it, but I suppose the euphonic qualities won out for a few parents. 

Sherry - 9,227 babies in 1962
Alright, Sherry seems to be the most popular drink name in history (sorry, Brandy!) It's just so merry and positive, albeit a little dated to modern ears. 

Tequila - 128 babies in 1977
I would have thought celebrity Tila Tequila was the inspiration, but not in 1977... I just looked it up, and a Mexican family comedy called Sor Tequila - "Sister Tequila" - came out that year. Could this rambunctious nun be the inspiration?

Drinks that didn't show up in name records:


Let me know if I missed any!

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