According to Westfair Communications, 323 Main Street, a restaurant and bar in Westport, Connecticut had a cocktail named “The Tuskegee Experiment,” on its menu. The inspiration for the drink came from the racially motivated medical experiment and has provoked a backlash from customers and residents.
The signature cocktail featured Malibu rum, Myers dark rum, fresh lime, pineapple juice, bits of pineapple and jalapeno, and a splash of Tabasco sauce. It was named after the research experiment, “The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” which took place in the 1930s at Tuskegee University, a historically Black college in Alabama. The 40-year medical study falsely used African-American me to observe what untreated syphilis did to the body. The men did not receive penicillin for the treatment of the disease and were under the assumption they were receiving free healthcare. Hundreds of them died, several of their wives contracted the STD and a number of their children were born with congenital syphilis, reports the CDC.
Considering the infamous history of the experiment it is unclear and also mortifying as to why an establishment would highlight a disturbing moment in History. The cocktail was removed after a restaurant-goer, Leah Bornstein, complained about the drink on Aug. 11.
Before the drink was removed, Bornstein’s friend Eric Armour posted a photo of 323’s cocktail menu and wrote, “Umm. This is ridiculously horrible.” The image was shared nearly 3,000 times and has over 700 comments.
Despite the creative names of all the cocktails on the menu, Brenda Penn-Williams, Norwalk NAACP President, called out the restaurant for making the alcoholic beverage.
“The Norwalk NAACP condemns 323 Main Restaurant for naming a drink after ‘The Tuskegee Experiment,’ based on facts the Tuskegee syphilis experiment was an infamous, unethical and malicious clinical study conducted between 1932 thru 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service which was mean and evil. To conduct such an experiment on rural, uneducated African-American men which was the leading cause of death is a travesty of injustice and a lack of human regard. It is a shame that 323 Main Restaurant continued with the same racist mindset in these times,” Penn-Williams said in a statement.
According to the Stamford Advocate, the 323 Restaurant Bar apologized for the drink on its Facebook page. “We sincerely apologize for our insensitivity and the lack of forethought on our part. The name of the drink was clearly inappropriate, and we will seriously be considering the history and impact behind the names on future menus.”
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.