Did Sangillo's ban cognac because black people like it? That's the question Press Herald reporter Ray Routhier raises today, a day after the paper ran a story on the possibility of the dive bar's liquor license not being renewed. The original story had the curious line from the Sangillo's lawyer saying that, along with hiring a doorman and installing video cameras to improve safety, the bar banned cognacs Hennessy and Remy Martin because the "purchase of these liquors was related to detrimental conduct."
Writes Routhier: "Hennessy cognac is heavily marketed to young black drinkers, raising questions about whether the ban has racial overtones." He asks the local NAACP president for her thoughts, but she chose not to draw conclusions. Routhier also includes a nice history of Hennessy's popularity among blacks, interviewing an Ebony.com editor, but the closest he gets to confirmation of his thesis is from Keith Maddox, "who researches stereotyping and prejudice at the Tufts University Social Cognition Lab, in Medford, Mass." Maddox says:
"It's sort of similar to banning baggy pants or gang colors. There is certainly precedent for banning certain items to exclude certain groups. ... I had never heard about this product being banned to keep a certain group out, but it wouldn't surprise me."
Sangillo's lawyer Harry Center told the paper that the ban was "absolutely not directed at any type or group of clientele."
So folks are left to draw their own conclusions on the odd cognac ban. The PPH just wanted to raise the possibility of it being racist. At least the Hennessy part of it. There was no mention of the race, age or gender groups that favor Remy Martin, but a very small, unscientific poll conducted by Eater shows it to be popular among 80 year-old Italian men who also like cigars.
· Portland Bar Sees Trouble in Bottom of Cognac Glass [PPH]