How to Make a Scofflaw Cocktail
It is often said that rules are made to be broken. Some rules seem more breakable than others.
For example, I'm pretty sure that the speed limit on the Scottsdale leg of Loop 101 is but a mere suggestion. And I have an inkling that not all of the, ahem, herbal medicine prescribed these days isn't strictly used for its written purpose.
Through American history, one of the most noteworthy times that rules were broken left and right was during Prohibition. Even though the manufacture of alcohol was illegal, it didn't stop much of society from getting a drink.
While speakeasies and bathtub hooch existed, there was a simple way for the well-to-do to enjoy a legal libation: Take a vacation outside of the country.
Prohibition was taking its toll on the United States, but everyone across the pond was still enjoying their spirits. In Paris, Harry's New York Bar (birthplace of more than a few terrific cocktails) created a cocktail to commemorate the drinking still going on in the United States despite the Eighteenth Amendment, and named it the Scofflaw for all of those dirty scofflaws running around stateside.
Possibly even more interesting than the cocktail's provenance is the origin of the word scofflaw. If it wasn't for Prohibition, the word (and this very cocktail) may well not exist. In 1924, with Prohibition in full swing, there were still plenty of people who partook of spirits, federal law be damned.
The people at the Boston Herald decided that there should be a derisive word for these people. They ran a contest to come up with such a word, and offered a $200 cash prize, about $2,800 in today's money. Two people separately came up with the portmanteau of "scoff" and "law", and they split the cash.
The Scofflaw is one of my favorite kinds of cocktails: simple but elegant. At its core, it's just a whiskey sour with a couple of modifications. Instead of boring simple syrup, grenadine adds complexity. And, since this is a French take on an archetypal American cocktail, it's only natural that it includes dry vermouth.
Those who are scared of vermouth can reduce the amount to an ounce or even 3/4-ounce if they feel they must. Or they can get over it and find out vermouth is pretty darn good stuff. I keep telling people, but nobody seems to listen.
When you look at the recipe, you may think that since Canadian whisky includes a fair bit of rye, that this cocktail would also be delicious made with one of the many straight rye whiskies on the market today. You would be correct.
However, remember that these American rye whiskeys weren't available when the drink was created. Therefore, the use of Canadian whisky gives a proper thumbing of the nose to the Prohibition that gave rise to the Scofflaw cocktail. On the other hand, what were we saying earlier about rules?
Scofflaw Cocktail 1-1/2 ounces Canadian whisky 1-1/2 ounces dry vermouth 3/4 ounce lemon juice 3/4 ounce grenadine 1 dash orange bitters
Shake well with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
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