Bonus Cocktail: The Scofflaw

The Scofflaw Cocktail.

Scofflaw: a person who habitually flouts or violates the law.

Well, we like this cocktail already… And of course, as you probably guessed, this drink is from the prohibition era. In fact, the word “scofflaw” was invented, in a 1920’s contest no less, to describe those proud and free souls who happily ignored the odious Volstead act. And in the spirit of the times, it didn’t take long to get a Scofflaw cocktail. Sadly, the word “scofflaw” now applies mostly to people who don’t pay parking tickets. Shameful.

Scofflaw and ingredients. All are readily available.

And it is a bit shameful that the Scofflaw isn’t a more popular drink. It’s a terrific, classic cocktail that gets a big thumbs-up from a wide array of professional tasters our friends. The scofflaw combines Rye whiskey, dry vermouth, lemon juice and grenadine, and some recipes include a dash of orange bitters. The result is a sip that starts with a pleasant sour note from the lemon, then sweetness from the rye and grenadine, and a dry finish from the vermouth- with a lovely spicy note from the rye. This drink is a crowd-pleaser. If you are a fan of whiskey or cognac-based cocktails, this is a light, but familiar sip. If you are a fan of gin, vodka or rum cocktails, the dry vermouth lightens the whiskey but keeps the sweet, spicy flavor. Good stuff. The Scofflaw is a fast favorite here at Putney Farm.

The drink itself was created in 1924 at Harry’s New York Bar (in Paris). The original recipe, as noted in older cocktail books like the Savoy Cocktail Book and Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, suggests 2 parts each of rye (or Canadian) whiskey and dry vermouth, 1 part each of lemon juice and grenadine and then a dash of orange bitters. More recent versions of the recipe, like Ted Haigh’s from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, tend to specify rye whiskey, increase its amount above the vermouth and omits the orange bitters. We tried both recipes (included below) and they each work. In general, if you like rye- use the recipe with a bit more rye. If you prefer a lighter, dryer flavor, the original recipe might be the best bet. We tied a few tweaks to the recipe and the basic alchemy of the Scofflaw still holds. Like we said, a good drink.

As for the spirits, we tried both rye and Canadian whiskey, and we prefer the overt spice of the rye. For the dry vermouth, we suggest a good one like Dolin- as the vermouth plays a big role in the overall balance of the drink. As for the grenadine, we should make our own (here is a good recipe) but get lazy sometimes. But we do try to use “real pomegranate” grenadines, as they simply taste better than artificially flavored versions. And fresh lemon juice is a must.

But one of the best things about the Scofflaw is that all the ingredients are readily available. You can make this drink almost anywhere and anytime. So the next time “the man” has you down, go enjoy a Scofflaw, and join a proud tradition of civil (and somewhat trivial) disobedience… 😉

The Scofflaw Cocktail (Original Recipe):

(Adapted from the Savoy Cocktail Book)

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. rye or Canadian whiskey
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Regan’s)

Assemble:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe’. Serve.

The Scofflaw Cocktail (Updated Recipe):

(Adapted from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2  oz. rye or Canadian whiskey
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. grenadine

Assemble:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe’. Serve.
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44 thoughts on “Bonus Cocktail: The Scofflaw

  1. I’ve never heard of this drink before, so I’m glad to learn something new. My friends and I have recently turned on to Rye as it regains popularity (we’ve mostly been bourbon drinkers) and we’re always looking for new Rye drinks. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be sure to let my friends in on this!

  2. How wonderful. the colour of this delightful cocktail is gorgeous. I suspect one would not need too many of these for one to become quite merry!! what a lovely thought.. c

  3. I’m a whiskey and small-batch bourbon fan, but I never go with anything fancier than a splash of ginger ale. This cocktail looks charming, and I love it’s vintage flair. I’ll be following your blog — thanks for visiting mine this week!

    • Thanks for reading! Some of these classic cocktails do a very good job of adding flavors, but preserving the base flavor of the spirits. This is a good whiskey drink, you know it is there, just different…worth a try..

  4. Lovely photos! It sounds yummy and I like the name and the history you provided. I’d like to give it a try. I like to make cocktails from ingredients in the garden too. I put together one using Mr. Pimms No. 1 in case you are curious. 🙂

    • Looking forward to your take on it. It sounds odd, but if you like the Aviation, we bet you will like this…much better than the sum of its parts (IMHO)…

  5. I think that I would like the original better. I wonder why the orange bitters have been left out in newer recipes. Thanks for the notes on the recipes.

    • The original, with the bitters and less rye is more “balanced”…and typical of drink recipes of the 20’s.

      The updated version shows how most recent cocktail writers tend to prefer their drinks more “spirit-forward”.

      FWIW we like the orange bitters in either version…they do add more depth to almost any drink..

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