Hand Grenade (cocktail)

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A hand grenade from Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street

The specialty cocktail drink known as the Hand Grenade is sold frozen or on-the-rocks exclusively by 721 Bourbon, Inc. through five licensed nightclub bars in the New Orleans French Quarter.[1] Pam Fortner and Earl Bernhardt, owners of the Tropical Isle bar founded during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, created the melon-flavored Hand Grenade as their signature cocktail.[2][3] Since 1987,[1] the federally registered trademark "Hand Grenade" has been used to uniquely identify the cocktail and its packaging. Since January 1992, the Hand Grenade has been served in a green, translucent, plastic yard glass container with a bulbous, textured base shaped like an oversized hand grenade.[1] The grenade has anthropomorphic features, including black oval eyes and an upturned smile.[1] Printed in bold, black lettering, the legend extends vertically down the neck, with the cocktail name and a reference to its high alcohol content: "Hand Grenade® New Orleans Most Powerful Drink".[1] Consumers purchasing Hand Grenade cocktails in these containers receive discounts on refills at the licensed establishments.[1] In January 2012, a lower-calorie "Skinny Hand Grenade" was announced.[4]

Trademarks and secrecy[edit]

721 Bourborn, Inc., doing business as Tropical Isle®, holds five federal trademark registrations for its Hand Grenade® family of marks, including "Home of the Hand Grenade" for bar services and other registrations protecting its prepared alcoholic cocktails, nonalcoholic mixes and syrups, as well as energy drinks.[1] Only five establishments, all in the French Quarter, are licensed to sell Hand Grenade® cocktails. They include Tropical Isle Original, Tropical Isle Original Papa Joe’s, Tropical Isle Bayou Club & Music Bar, the Funky Pirate, and the New Orleans Grapevine.[1]

Tropical Isle's recipe is marketed as a proprietary trade secret that only a handful of people know (though you can buy the mix directly from them to make at home, with its ingredients listed on the side and directions as to what alcohol to add is listed on the back), and the employees and licensees are required to sign confidentiality agreements pledging not to reveal it.[1] Tropical Isle believes that the secrecy increases the drink's mystique. That has resulted in large-scale speculation over the ingredients, and several variations of possible drink recipes on the Internet. That has led Tropical Isle to declare on its Website that any drink or recipe claiming to be a Hand Grenade® is fake and illegal. They also state that they are pursuing legal recourse against such impostors, and they offer a $250 cash reward "to anyone furnishing information that leads to the identification and termination of the illegal use of our federally registered trademark".[2]

Tropical Isle has taken legal action, or threatened to do so, against several businesses for selling drinks under the name Hand Grenade or Grenade (e.g., DeRe' LaRouge in Hattiesburg, MS[5]) and for marketing similar looking and tasting products.


The cocktails are in great demand among tourists visiting New Orleans and are promoted regularly in publications with interstate and international circulation, including on major television networks, in movies, in magazines, in newspapers, and on the Internet.[1] Hand grenades are commonly associated with Mardi Gras, and they are consumed in large amounts during that time. Gray Line Worldwide features the Hand Grenade in its "New Orleans' Original Cocktail Walking Tour".[6]

Cocktail enthusiasts' opinions about the sweet and potent drink range from classifying it as a "terrible drink"[7] (along with another similarly unique French Quarter cocktail, the Hurricane) to being "well worth the hangover". It is described as tasting "exactly like an Ecto-Cooler Hi-C drink, and will put you on your ass. Even the bar itself says not to drink more than 4 in an entire night."[8]

Tropical Isle's Website offers a prepared Hand Grenade mix for home use. It comes packaged with instructions and a drinking guide. The home mix is the only authorized drink mix, and Tropical Isle limits the amount of mix that customers may buy; resale is prohibited.[9] Souvenir yard cups are sold separately at Tropical Isle, its licensed establishments, and its Website. The yard cup design appears on Mardi Gras merchandise, T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, a canned energy drink, ceramic collectibles, and many other items.[1]

The influence of the Hand Grenade extends beyond New Orleans. For example, Tony’s Liquors in Shreveport sells a seasonal daiquiris called the "Swamp Bomb" created by Perry Woods, a former Bourbon Street bartender, with a clear nod to rival New Orleans favorites like the Hand Grenade.[10]

The Hand Grenade has entered popular culture as well. Rapper Ludacris mentions drinking hand grenades in "Pimpin' All Over the World", a song from his The Red Light District album: "...and at night I'm in New Orleans drinkin' Hand Grenades."[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Feldman, Judge Martin L. C. (August 25, 2011). "721 Bourbon, Inc. v. B.E.A., Inc. et al - Document 39" (pdf). Civil Action No. 11-710 Section "F". United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. pp. 1–4. Retrieved February 7, 2012. Court rulings are public domain content under U.S. law. 
  2. ^ a b "The One and Only Hand Grenade®". Tropical Isle. 2001. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Maroon Staff, The (December 8, 2011). "Bourbon Street bars offer change of scene". The Maroon: Life & Times. Loyola University New Orleans. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ Earl Bernhardt and Pam Fortner (January 6, 2012). Tropical Isle Skinny Grenade. YouTube user ReneMichelSpots. 
  5. ^ "Bar Wars: New Orleans business threatens suit against Hattiesburg restaurant". WLOX-TV 13. October 7, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ "New Orleans' Original Cocktail Walking Tour". Gray Line Tours. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  7. ^ Sintumuang, Kevin (October 2010). "The 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America". GQ Magazine. Condé Nast Digital. pp. Slide #16 (Arnaud's French 75). Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  8. ^ Natty (June 2, 2011). "The Six Best Drinks to Get in New Orleans". Uncoached. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Tropical Isle Gift Annex". Tropical Isle. 1997. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ Brandy (December 21, 2010). "Drive-Thru Daiquiris: A Shreveport-Bossier Tradition". Shreveport-Bossier Press Releases. Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Pimpin' All Over The World Lyrics". MetroLyrics.com. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 

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