Alcohol & Spirits

What To Drink While Watching A PBS Doc About Prohibition: The Scofflaw

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Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 11:15 AM
click to enlarge Eric Alperin
  • Eric Alperin

In our recent conversation with Ken Burns, the award-winning filmmaker with the distinctive bowl-shaped haircut admitted that many who've watched his and Lynn Novick's 5 ½ hour documentary Prohibition end up with cocktail-cravings. Which got us thinking: What if we were to ask Eric Alperin, co-owner of The Varnish bar in Historic Downtown Los Angeles and Prohibition-era scholar, to suggest a suitable cocktail to imbibe while you're learning about our country's famously unsuccessful social experiment?

"Let me mull it over," Alperin responded via e-mail.

Less than twenty minutes later, along with a follow-up note from Alperin ("The mull happened quickly...") we had instructions for the perfect pairing for the PBS special: an intoxicating pink beverage called a Scofflaw.

click to enlarge Eric Alperin
  • Eric Alperin

The drink takes its name from a contest sponsored by the Anti-Saloon League, one that is actually covered in Burns and Novick's documentary, that presented the challenge to make up a new word for someone who disregards the 18th amendment and tipples anyway: Not one, but two people thought of merging "scoff" and "law" and took home the $200 prize.

With a flash of humor, Harry's New York bar in Paris responded by coming up with a Rye-based nose-thumbing classic:


From: Adapted by Eric Alperin

Makes: 1 drink

1 ounce Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)

1 ounce Dry Vermouth (Dolin Dry Vermouth)

1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

3/4 ounces house made grenadine (a mixture of sugar and pomegranate concentrate.)

1 dash of Orange Bitters (Regan's Orange Bitters or Fee Brothers Orange Bitters)

1. Shake with a rock of ice and serve in a chilled coupe glass. No garnish.

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