Did Dorit Kemsley Invent the Term “Carcass Out”?
Attempting to determine the etymology of the RHOBH star’s drink preparation of choice
The most interesting character in the lifeless current season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is, fittingly, a carcass. Dorit Kemsley’s carcass, that is, from her go-to cocktail order of Belvedere, soda, (in a short glass), and three lemons — carcass out.
Kemsley has ordered a “Belvedere, soda, (in a short glass), and three lemons — carcass out” at every opportunity for cocktail consumption in both this Housewives season and the last. The order is typically accompanied by a hand gesture to illustrate what she means by “short” (short) and no explanation for what she means by “carcass” (the lemon wedge post-squeeze). In a Nylon interview from February 2022, she described her drink order, saying, “It's specific, but it is definitely my go-to drink order. It's Belvedere, club soda, and a short glass with three lemons, squeezed-in, carcass out.” And, babe — we know.
Like the name of Kemsley’s cause célèbre “Homeless Not Toothless,” the use of the phrase “carcass out” is typically met with either confusion or resigned acceptance. “I never even heard of ‘carcass’ before she said it,” her husband PK told cast member Kyle Richards’s husband Mauricio in this season’s ninth episode. His statement came while he dutifully used the phrase “carcass out” himself to place her drink order.
In a post on the subreddit “r/bartenders,” a reddit user asked, “What does ‘Carcass our’ mean when ordering a drink? Heard it on a TV show but can’t seem to find anything.” They added, “Edit: I meant ‘Carcass Out.’ Maybe it means to not leave the lime in the glass after it’s squeezed? Is it called a lime carcass?”
It is, in fact, not called a lime carcass, however, yes, that is what it means. Fellow reddit users tried to help. “Never heard that before. Are you sure that's what they said? Perhaps they said ‘(something) sour’ or the name of some exotic booze. Some context would help,” said one. “Might be possible it was an uneducated Plebeian of an actor trying to pronounce ‘Curaçao,’ but that’s the best I can come up with,” said a ruder one. “I wondered the same thing while watching real housewives with my gf,” said a third. “Never heard of it before either, but it seems to be the juice of the lime wedge squeezed into the cocktail and then discarding the leftover rind and pulp (carcass). Some silly reality show nonsense.” (Sexist.)
The term, while disgusting, does make a certain sort of sense, and the confidence with which Dorit delivers it each time seems to suggest that at least she believes it’s a normal thing to say. So I reached out to Dorit’s publicist to see if she might be open to having a discussion about where she first heard the phrase, and how she came to adopt it for personal use; or, alternatively, if she remembers what led her to compose the lyrical “carcass out” herself.
Several self-described bartenders in the r/bartenders thread mentioned that they’d never heard of “carcass out” before, so while I awaited Dorit’s response, I thought I’d try to find a bartender who had. After reaching out to an ungodly number of bars to ask if their bartenders had ever been asked to leave the “carcass” “out” of a drink before, I received a small spritz of data.
Dimitrios Michalopoulos, bar manager at the famed NYC bar Bemelmans, told me he’d never heard of the term. “I have not heard the phrase ‘carcass out’ but after your description it makes sense,” he said. “We don't use this technique at Bemelmans and that's why I might not know it.”
“We took a quick poll — none of our bartenders have ever heard that used,” said Safia Ali, the beverage director at Wonderbar in Beacon, NY. “I do know it’s a preference for some cocktail lovers, although I have never heard a guest use the terminology ‘carcass out.’”
Dmitry, a bartender at the 16th Ward in Scranton, PA, said the bar does not use that term, nor have they ever heard anyone else use it. “Could be a regional thing, to be honest.”
Paul Hamill, a longtime bartender and co-owner of the Brooklyn bar Adirondack, said he hadn’t ever heard of the term, nor could he remember ever receiving a request to leave out a squeezed wedge. In an email, he wrote, “‘Carcass Out’ sounds gross!! But kind of funny. I suppose there has been some concern lately about the cleanliness of the exterior of citrus fruits, so carcass out may be the wave of the future.” And I do agree with that.
After Kendra Borowski, who handles PR for the Brooklyn bar Grand Army, was able to touch base with the staff there, she too returned to me empty-handed. “Alas, our bartenders and beverage director have never heard of this term.”
“Sorry we don’t rep her anymore,” said a member of what IMDB Pro had led me to believe was Dorit’s PR team, after I sent them four emails asking to speak to Ms. Kemsley about carcasses. “Oh, no worries! Thank you for getting back to me. Do you happen to know who reps her now?” I responded, in a way I think you’ll agree was very personable and polite. I was met with silence once again.
I decided a more academic approach was warranted. It’s possible “carcass out” might only be known to cocktail historians, or people who have studied the specific food-based terminology of Dorit’s hometown of Woodbridge, Connecticut. Emma Janzen, James Beard award-winning writer and co-author of The Bartender's Manifesto, was kind enough to consider my question after I reached out to her via email. “Wish I could help you, but I have not heard that term before! It is kind of gross, huh?” she wrote. “I've been writing about cocktails for about 12 years now, so if it was a thing I think I probably would have heard of it.”
Ashley Rose Young, a historian for the American Food History Project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, said the question was outside of her area of expertise, but pointed me to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, which houses the Museum of the American Cocktail. Liz Williams co-founded the museum, so I reached out to her. “I must admit that I have never heard the citrus wedge referred to as a carcass either,” she said.
What about in the visual space? Would stock photo provider Shutterstock know what a lemon carcass was? I searched “lemon carcass” in its database and was shown not a drained and discarded lemon wedge but instead an abundance of photos of dead fish with lemons near them. “Raw trout carcass with ice, lemon and parsley on a grey stone concrete background. Sea fish, healthy food, trendy hard light, dark shadow, copy space,” said the description of the first result. It was marked “rarely used.”
By this point both Garcelle Beauvais and Erika Jayne had passed on answering the question of whether Dorit heard “carcass out” somewhere, or if she just started saying it, or what. Sutton Stracke was traveling and couldn’t respond. It seemed like I might get somewhere with Crystal Kung Minkoff, but alas her press rep only agreed to connect me with her if I provided the names of other cast members who were participating in the story, and, as you now know, I had none to provide. Press reps for Lisa Rinna, Kyle Richards, and Kathy Hilton were not even brave enough to respond to my query at all.
Frustrated, I contacted several Bravo publicity reps listed in their media kit and demanded to know why Dorit says carcass before being pointed in the direction of the one person who is actually the correct publicity rep for the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, oops. After a couple of emails, she said she might be able to try for Dorit, but only after clarifying with me the tone of my piece and the storylines it would focus on. Obviously the tone is very serious and the storyline is carcass, which I told her in so many words. I did not hear back.
I regret to tell you I am still awaiting Dorit’s response. I leave here as I came: desperate and curious, with the only thing I know for sure being that I don’t know anything at all. This process has left me feeling ragged and empty, all my initial brightness and energy squeezed out, ready to be cast aside for having no more contributions.