Scofflaw Cocktail


Published:  03/10/24

scofflaw cocktail
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The Scofflaw is a rye whiskey-based cocktail that encapsulates the spirit of rebellion and the cultural milieu of the Prohibition era and offers a fascinating glimpse into the social and historical context of the 1920s in the United States and beyond.

The term “scofflaw” itself is a product of a unique moment in American history. In the early 20th century, the United States found itself grappling with the complexities of Prohibition, a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Amid this socio-political turmoil, a notable event occurred: a contest held by Delcevare King, a fervent advocate for the temperance movement. King sought to coin a term that would encapsulate the essence of those who flouted the newly instituted laws against alcohol consumption. The contest, widely publicized, culminated on January 15, 1924, with the term “scofflaw” being selected from the entries, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. The word was a blend of “scoff” and “law” ingeniously capturing the defiance of individuals who continued to indulge in spirits despite the legal prohibitions.

In the same year that “scofflaw” entered the American lexicon, a cocktail bearing this moniker was invented at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, a haven for many Americans fleeing the dry spell of their homeland. The Scofflaw cocktail, thus named, symbolized not just a drink but a bold statement of resistance. It was a cocktail that toasted to the spirit of those who, within the confines of legality or outside it, sought the pleasures that Prohibition sought to deny.

Over the decades, the Scofflaw cocktail has seen variations in its recipe, reflecting not only changes in palates but also the adaptability of the drink to different times and tastes. The original cocktail featured a blend of rye whiskey, dry vermouth, lemon juice, grenadine, and a dash of orange bitters – a balance of sweetness, acidity, and the robustness of whiskey. However, it is noteworthy that over time, the choice of citrus has seen a divide, while the traditional recipe calls for lemon juice, a significant shift towards lime juice has been observed. This subtle yet significant variation underscores the cocktail’s enduring appeal and its capacity to evolve while retaining its essence.

The Scofflaw cocktail transcends its role as a mere cocktail, it is a cultural artifact, a relic of a tumultuous period in American history. It represents a time when the nation was divided not just by law but by ideology, where the act of drinking became a political statement, a form of silent protest against what many perceived as an infringement on personal freedoms.

Scofflaw Recipe

  1. 45 ml rye whiskey

  2. 30 ml dry vermouth

  3. 22.5 ml fresh lemon juice

  4. 15 ml grenadine

  5. 1 dash orange bitters

  6. Ice

  7. Garnish: orange twist

the scofflaw cocktail

How to Make a Scofflaw Cocktail

  1. Add the rye whiskey, dry vermouth, fresh lemon juice, grenadine, and orange bitters into a cocktail shaker.

  2. Add ice and shake for 10-15 seconds, until chilled.

  3. Strain into a coupe glass.

  4. Garnish with an orange twist.

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