CLASSIC:The Scofflaw Cocktail

The Scofflaw Cocktail

Photography by Rob Palmer

A drink for the law-loose-liquor-lover

The Scofflaw Cocktail, is a concoction that has disappeared off the radar a bit, but is certainly a tipple worthy of whirl. Fortunately the origins and formula of this drink are no secret. It was first compounded at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, 1924, during the height of American Prohibition. Ironically, if it wasn’t for a ban on the consumption of alcoholic beverages this drink may have never existed.


The term scofflaw was the result of a national contest in the US instigated in October 1923 by a prominent Anti-Saloon League member Delcevare King in reaction to lawless drinking and frequenters of speakeasies. King offered a $200 reward for the creation of a term “which best expresses the idea of lawless drinker, menace, scoffer, bad citizen, or whatnot, with the biting power of ‘scab’ or slacker”.

“The drink, was for a time a favourite amongst the scofflaws for whom the very term was created. “

The competition certainly attracted attention. According to the Boston Herald, dated January 16, 1924 there were over 25,000 entries with two separate contestants coming up with the term scofflaw and splitting the prize money. Unsuccessful entries include these gems: scut, sluf, canker, still-whacker, slime-slopper, cellar-sifter, sluch-licker, boozlag, alcolog, hooch-sniper, rum-rough, bottle-yegger and law-loose-liquor-lover.

In general, the premise of King’s contest was the subject of widespread mockery. The New York Times predicted that ‘scofflaws’ would be unaffected by the word: “said sinners will not be startled nor abashed at being told that they do what they have never tried to conceal”. The word was immediately taken into the vernacular but only to be used in vain and to poke jest at King’s sentiments.

The reaction to this new term was, in fact, so immediate that Harry’s New York Bar, less than two weeks after the actual coining of the term invented a cocktail that humorously baited American prohibition ideals. The Scofflaw Cocktail was created by Harry’s bartender apparently going by the name of ‘Jock’. The drink, was for a time a favourite amongst the scofflaws for whom the very term was created.

The Scofflaw Cocktail

(Recipe adapted from Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails)

45ml Straight rye whiskey
30ml Dry vermouth
20ml Lemon juice
20ml Real pomegranate grenadine
Dash of orange bitters

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

  1. I like this one a little on the dryer side, I tried it with 15ml of homemade grenadine and it was very much to my liking. 

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