Here’s two Prohibition-era cocktails to toast Repeal Day with

Repeal Day _ the 12 Mile Limit
The 12 Mile Limit. Credit: Rob Palmer
December 5th is Repeal Day, people! On this day 83 years ago the so-called noble experiment — Prohibition — ended in the US, when the 21st Amendment was ratified. That amendment repealed the 18th Amendment and once again opened taverns and inns and bars across the country.

In honour of the USA coming to its collective spiritous senses, we’ll be raising a glass with these two drinks: The Scofflaw, and The 12 Mile Limit.

The Scofflaw is credited to Harry’s New York Bar, Paris from 1924, and was a term coined in a competition to describe those wicked people that frequented speakeasies — one, the competition organiser hoped expressed “the idea of lawless drinker, menace, scoffer, bad citizen, or whatnot, with the biting power of ’scab’ or slacker.”

The story of the 12 Mile Limit is far from clear-cut. What we do know is that it was created by a journalist called Thomas Franklin Fairfax Millard. But if it weren’t for Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, we might not know much about this delicious drink.

Not to be confused with the similarly named Twelve Miles Out that appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book (which combines equal parts rum, Swedish Punsch and Calvados), the 12 Mile Limit looks very much like the Three Miller Cocktail (also described in The Savoy), that was depicted in Harry McElhone’s Barflies and Cocktails as a drink called the Three Miles Out.


Named for the three nautical mile limit that demarcated the extent of US jurisdiction, The Three Miles Out combines rum, brandy, lemon juice and grenadine. Faced with the great downer of Prohibition, revellers hopped aboard boats and took their parties three miles offshore — and out of the reach of the Feds.

Well, they did until the government tired of people thumbing their noses at Prohibition, offshore but within sight of (very) dry land. The extraordinary thing here is that because of these revellers, the US pushed other nations to accept a change to maritime borders from three miles to 12 miles. Powers like Britain and France agreed to a change, and the US may have thought the revellers were pulled back within their reach; but it only accomplished pushing the Prohibition party further out to sea — to beyond the 12 mile limit.

Now that it was a longer journey to get a drink, you can picture some dandy like Thomas Millard coming up with the grand idea of fortifying the Three Mile Limit with a little rye, to make the trip a little more bearable. Perhaps a toast to the 12 Mile Limit earnt the drink its name.

Repeal Day – The Scofflaw Cocktail
The Scofflaw Cocktail.

The Scofflaw Cocktail

  • 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.

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

12 Mile Limit

  • 30ml rum
  • 15ml brandy
  • 15ml rye whiskey
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml Monin Grenadine

Shake all ingredients with and strain into coupette.

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