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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Celebrate Repeal Day with a Scofflaw Cocktail

The Scofflaw Cocktail is a great way to celebrate Repeal Day
The term “scofflaw” originated during Prohibition to describe people who drank in spite of the fact that liquor had been outlawed.  Shortly afterward, in the same year, the Scofflaw Cocktail was created at Harry’s Bar in Paris.  Harry’s, luckily for them, probably was able to use better quality liquor than was available in Prohibition era America.  Harry’s Bar, in case you’re interested, is still in business at 5 rue Daunou in Paris, serving drinks to (what seemed to me) a mostly Parisian crowd.  Stop in when you’re in the neighborhood (1st arrondissement).

Several years later the cocktail appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), one of the classic cocktail books written at the height of Prohibition by the great Harry Craddock, barman at The American Bar in the Savoy Hotel, London.  The Savoy book has been the source for many delicious, classic cocktails, and the Scofflaw is another one that will remain in my cocktail repertoire. 

When the time came to select ingredients, Noilly Prat Vermouth seemed like a logical choice for this cocktail of French origin, although you could use Dolin or your favorite.  Noilly Prat has long been available in Utah, but why talk about Utah?  On December 5, 1933, the great state of Utah became the 36th state (and the third state that day, thanks to being located in the Mountain time zone) to ratify the 21st Amendment, thus repealing Prohibition. 

Utahans, especially in the liberal hotbed of Salt Lake City, are proud of Utah’s link to Repeal Day.  Repeal was a plank in the Democratic Party platform in 1932, and FDR’s campaign promised to support it.  Because Prohibition was implemented via constitutional amendment (the 18th), it could only be repealed via constitutional amendment (the 21st).  The 21st amendment was proposed by congress in February, 1933, and sent to the states for ratification.  Three quarters of the states had to ratify within seven years for the amendment to pass, but the deed was done in less than one.   So when you celebrate Repeal Day, drink a toast to the state that put the Repeal of Prohibition over the top for all America.

The Utah DABC improved their Rye selection last year by adding Bulleit Rye to their list.  At around $25 the Bulleit is a nice, medium-priced Rye that improves a lot of my cocktails.  Of course, if you really want to show support for Utah, you could spring for one of Park City, Utah’s High West Ryes that could improve your Scofflaw and your celebration of Repeal Day.

Scofflaw Cocktail
  • 1 ½ oz. Rye Whiskey (Bulleit)
  • 1 ½ oz. Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. grenadine
  • 1 dash Orange Bitters

Pour ingredients into a shaker ¾ full of ice.  Shake hard until your shaker frosts up. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, drape a lemon twist gracefully over the edge of the glass, and enjoy while being thankful for the post-prohibition quality of your booze. 

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