We never really had a problem with the original Southern Comfort. Sweet and interesting, the spiced liqueur served its purpose as the standard cola mixer, and even made its way into the occasional cocktail. Then they started coming out with new flavors, like lime and pepper, which confused us -- if we wanted lime and pepper in our SoCo, could we not just add it ourselves? But the company continued onward, and now, today, in unnecessary liquor variations, we have Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry.
Let's backtrack. Southern Comfort was created in 1874 by Martin Wilkes Heron, a bartender at McCauley's Tavern in New Orleans' French Quarter. After experimenting with a variety of fruits, spices and other spirits, Heron struck on the perfect combination creating a one-of-a-kind blend of whiskey, fruit, and spice flavors.
The original recipe, according to spirits historian Chris Morris, contained vanilla bean, lemon, half a cinnamon stick, cloves, a few cherries, an orange bit or two, and honey. Today, god only knows what's in it -- most SoCo doesn't even contain real whiskey anymore, but rather whiskey-tasting flavoring. Nevertheless, it's still the national leader in the flavored spirit category.
Several flavor variations emerged before Bold Black Cherry -- Southern Comfort Lime came out in summer 2010, and a Fiery Pepper variety was released last fall. Bold Black Cherry, Southern Comfort says, combines the standard liqueur with a natural cherry infusion.
The result smells kind of like hard grenadine, or a Shirley Temple if Shirley was sauced on whiskey all the time. The flavor is very sweet -- like a shot of SoCo mixed with the leftover syrup from a jar of maraschino cherries.
We wouldn't drink it straight. Not that it's harsh -- a shot of the stuff would put about as much hair on your chest as a shot of estrogen --but it's overly sugary and one-dimensional. Better to mix it. Southern Comfort suggests enjoying the spirit with some cola (the box we received screamed "Ridiculously good with Coke Zero!" and came with a bottle of the stuff), but we also liked as a substitute for regular SoCo in a cocktail called the Alabama Slammer.
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SoCo Bold Black Cherry & Cola The ingredients: 2 oz. SoCo Bold Black Cherry 4 oz. cola How to make it: Fill a glass with cubed ice. Pour in Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry. Add cola.
Alabama Cherry Bomb (A variation of the Alabama Slammer) The ingredients: ¾ oz. Amaretto ¾ oz. SoCo Bold Black Cherry ¾ oz. Sloe gin Orange juice How to make it: Pour the amaretto, SoCo and gin into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with OJ.
Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry is set to hit shelves nationally June 2012. Each 750ml bottle will be 70 proof with a suggested retail price of $16.99.