The Scoff-law Cocktail

The word “Scofflaw” has come to mean “A person who flouts the law, especially an unsustainable one.” But such was not always the case. It was in 1923, when Delcevare King, a member of the Anti-Saloon League, posed a contest to create a new word in order to combat the continued drinking which was going on during American Prohibition. The new word was to be one “which best expresses the idea of a lawless drinker, menace, scoffer, bad citizen, or whatnot, with the biting power of ‘scab’ or ‘slacker.'” The $200 prize elicited a huge response. On January 16th, 1924, the Boston Herald announced the winning word as “scofflaw”, with the winnings shared by the two Boston area residents, Henry Irving Dale and Kate L. Butler, who both submitted it. This was not the end of the story however, in just a little over a week, a salvo was launched from Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, where they created a new drink and christened it the “Scofflaw”.

I have three recipes. One is from Ted Haigh by way of Imbibe Magazine.

The Scofflaw Cocktail

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

Combine with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.

One is from Robert Hess.


  • 1 oz Canadian Club Whisky
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • dash grenadine
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.

Mr. Hess notes that he has a recipe in a book by the owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, where the drink originated. That recipe is also the one printed at CocktailDB, as follows.


  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1/3 Canadian Club Whisky
  • 1/3 Dry Martini vermouth
  • 1/6 lemon juice
  • 1/6 grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

A fourth arrived today from Gary Regan.


  • 2 oz Bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 oz Dry vermouth
  • .25 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz Grenadine
  • 2 dashes Orange bitters
  • Glass: Cocktail

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Try them all in celebration of Repeal Day.

A Martini

The Martini that most folks know, if they order a Martini in a bar, is between six and nine ounces of chilled vodka or gin, perhaps with the glass washed with vermouth. (Great! Three drinks for the price of one!) And depending on the vermouth being used this is perhaps a reasonable caution. However, it’s not a classic Martini: it’s a glass of [insert spirit here].

A lot of mixing drinks is taste, often opinionated taste. This is fine. One can even be snooty about it if one wants. I’ve found that each of the Martini variations I’ve tried has its own taste, some better than others, and its own rewards, such that the proportion I mix tends toward my preference of the moment. Tonight, to go with the Italian Wedding Soup my wife made, I stirred up a Sweet Martini, using Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Martini & Rossi Rosso, and Angostura Bitters.

Sweet Martini

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir in a mixing glass and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

The proportion here is 2:1 gin to vermouth. This is slightly less gin than called for in the CocktailDB recipe, but if one uses their scaling tool to adjust from a 4.5 oz. glass to a 4 oz. glass, one arrives at this ratio. I have a 4 oz. glass, but wasn’t considering that; I just like the taste at 2:1. Robert Hess, in the video below, uses 3:1. That’s also fine, if one prefers.

Last time I checked James Bond was an imaginary character. And I’m guessing that you probably stopped listening to imaginary characters in childhood. — Robert Hess


Over the summer Legal Sea Foods offered a cocktail they call the Deadrise.

Huh? What’s a deadrise? A fishy kind of zombie?

Nope. The deadrise is the angle between the bottom of a vessel and the horizontal in the transverse plane. The deadrise is also a kind of a boat used in the Chesapeake.

Legal Sea Foods’ Deadrise looks like this, and contains Belvedere vodka, cucumber, lime, and grapefruit bitters. They were quite willing to make a sample, which was tasty, but I asked that they substitute Hendrick’s Gin for the vodka.

Hmm, I thought, this is definitely a drink I want to make at home. But what’s the recipe? I suppose one could experiment, but not I. No, experimentation is for those without elite research skills. Someone, somewhere, had published this recipe, and I would find it.

Someone had: Blast Magazine, in their article “Six Light Drinks to Sip on This Summer” (July 20, 2010). Something about this recipe is not quite right, given these remarks about, and this interview with, their cocktail program manager, Patrick Sullivan. One wonders if it was altered for wider consumption; one must buy Fee’s grapefruit bitters and find out.



  • 3 slices of cucumber (with skin)
  • 1.5 oz lime cordial
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters


Muddle cucumbers, lime cordial and salt in a mixing glass.
Add vodka, bitters and ice.
Top with a metal tin shaker and shake hard; strain into a martini glass.

Made today, the following were muddled, shaken, and strained as above.

  • 3 slices of cucumber (with skin)
  • 0.75 oz lime juice
  • 0.75 oz agave syrup
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1.5 oz Hendrick’s Gin
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters

Now that’s a remarkably close approximation of the drink I had at Legal’s.

A Spirit, Sugar, Water, and Bitters

This week I have been concentrating on the Old Fashioned, varying which bourbon I use, which bitters, which garnish, and the balance of sugar and water. I should, however, stop saving this last cherry for the next Rob Roy. The drinks are very different, just by varying the bourbon.

the ingredients

Tuthilltown Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey, at 46% ABV and made entirely of New York corn, is very smooth, and obviously corn. There’s a sweetness to it that’s not unlike fresh grilled corn on the cob. Given one word to use, I would characterize this whiskey as simple.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Whiskey — 45% ABV and made from Kentucky and Indiana corn, rye, and malted barley — is more complicated. I’m not quite sure how to describe it.

For each, I’ve used Gilway Demerara sugar cubes, picked up at my local grocer. The grocer also stocks Domino sugar cubes, but I usually prefer the taste of demerara or turbinado sugar. The cube was soaked with two to three dashes of either Angostura Orange Bitters or Angostura Aromatic Bitters. Careful with the dashes from the aromatic bitters bottle; the hole is larger than that on the orange bitters. The recipe as given previously calls for the aromatic bitters, which have a complex flavor and smell a bit like nutmeg. The orange bitters smell like fresh orange peel. Either pairs nicely with the slice of orange used as garnish. The orange bitters will obviously enhance the orangeness of the drink. Water sufficient to barely top the sugar cube was added, and then the sugar muddled until thoroughly dissolved.

Ice was added, then the chosen bourbon, and the glass garnished with a slice of orange.

One must test the results. Both bitters work well with both bourbons, but I prefer the orange bitters with the Hudson Baby Bourbon, and the aromatic with Buffalo Trace.

Pink Gin

Browsing through videos from Robert Hess‘s show The Cocktail Spirit (on the Small Screen Network), I was reminded of the Pink Gin, a cocktail I made back at the beginning of this adventure, before I started writing down what I was making. It is dead simple to make, with only two ingredients: gin and Angostura bitters.

There are two results for Pink Gin in CocktailDB. I’ve made both. They differ slightly, in that the first washes the glass with bitters in addition to mixing bitters with the gin, whereas the second does not. The proportions of gin to bitters are basically the same, and can be varied to taste.

Pink Gin

  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • a dash or four of Angostura bitters

Add the gin and bitters to a mixing glass. Add ice, then stir briskly to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass.

A Highland Fling

Suppose you’ve become infatuated with Rob Roy

Rob Roy

Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

  • 1 3/4 oz Scotch (5 cl, 7/16 gills)
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
  • 1 dash orange bitters or Angostura bitters

Add cherry

Serve in a cocktail glass

and decide to have a Highland fling

Highland Fling

Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

  • 1 3/4 oz Scotch (5 cl, 7/16 gills)
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Add olive

Serve in a cocktail glass

What comes after a Highland fling with Rob Roy? The bairn o’ course.

The Bairn

Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

  • 2 oz Scotch (6 cl, 1/2 gills)
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau (1.5 cl, 1/8 gills)
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Serve in a cocktail glass

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is probably not a drink you want to order where you can’t see them fix it, and thus are unable to correct mistakes made in the preparation. I had a sickly sweet one on Mother’s Day, and wouldn’t recommend the experience to anyone. Don Draper, in an episode from season three of Mad Men, “My Old Kentucky Home,” builds his in a more old fashioned way, but he’s not tending my bar; I am, and I do the same.

Old Fashioned

In an old fashioned, or rocks, glass place a half cube of sugar. Soak the sugar with two to three dashes of Angostura bitters. Add a splash, if that, of water. Muddle until the sugar is completely dissolved in the bitters. Add two ounces of bourbon, and some ice. Garnish with any or all of a cherry, an orange slice, and a lemon wedge.

Amusingly enough, YouTube has Rachel Maddow building hers similarly. (Maybe if I make a video I can get a great gig on MSNBC too!) If you prefer your bartender in a vest, here’s Chris McMillian, of the Library Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans.

I’ll take a Manhattan

After a late, or early for me, arrival home from the office, I fried up a pair of cheeseburgers. I’m not quite ready to drink the Budweiser I have in the house, so what cocktail might go with a cheeseburger?

A Hamburger Today asks the same question, but didn’t answer it so much as review some hamburgers at two cocktail bars, and I’ll certainly not try this Whiskeyburger documented by Esquire. Of course, Jimmy Buffett might recommend a margarita, in the absence of Landshark Lager, with one’s cheeseburger in paradise.

Perhaps a Manhattan?


Stir in mixing glass with ice

Strain into a a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.