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The Scofflaw is a classic cocktail with a rich history. This drink was created during the Prohibition era, when alcohol was illegal in the United States. Despite the law, many people continued to drink and frequent speakeasies. The term “scofflaw” was coined to describe those who broke the law and drank illegally.

Scofflaw Cocktail garnish with orange twist

There are many variations of the Scofflaw cocktail, but the classic recipe remains a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts. Some bartenders use homemade grenadine or pomegranate syrup to add a quality touch to the drink. Others may swap out the rye whiskey for gin or Canadian whisky to create a different taste. Whether you’re a fan of strong cocktails or prefer something more refreshing, the Scofflaw is a classic cocktail that is sure to please.


The Scofflaw cocktail has a fascinating history that is intertwined with the Prohibition era. The term “scofflaw” was first coined by a contest sponsored by a Boston banker in 1923 to describe a lawless drinker. The term quickly became popular, and a Paris bartender named Harry MacElhone created a cocktail in its honor.

Cocktail called a Scofflaw invented in 1924 in Harry's bar, popular in the 1920's and 1930's, shot close up on a reflective surface, with a golden background.

Harry MacElhone was the owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, which was a popular hangout spot for American expatriates during the Prohibition era. The Scofflaw cocktail was first mentioned in the Chicago Tribune in 1924 and quickly became a classic cocktail.

The Scofflaw cocktail is a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of bartenders during the Prohibition era. Despite the ban on alcohol, bartenders found ways to create delicious cocktails that satisfied their customers’ cravings for a good drink.

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How to Make It

Scofflaw Cocktail garnish with orange twist


Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Making a Scofflaw cocktail is fairly easy and requires only a few ingredients. Here is a simple recipe that you can follow to make a perfect Scofflaw cocktail.


  • 2 ounces of rye whiskey or bourbon
  • ½ ounce of dry vermouth
  • ¾ ounce of grenadine
  • ¾ ounce of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 dash of orange bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange twist for garnish


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Add all the ingredients except the orange twist to the cocktail shaker.
  3. Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously for 15-20 seconds until well-chilled.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass using a strainer.
  5. Garnish the cocktail with an orange twist.

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The Scofflaw cocktail is a versatile drink that can be easily adapted to suit your preferences. Here are some variations to try out:

French 75 Twist

For a lighter, more citrusy version of the Scofflaw, add a splash of gin and sparkling wine to the mix. This variation, known as the French 75 Twist, is perfect for sipping on a warm summer evening.

Manhattan Style

If you prefer a stronger cocktail, try making the Scofflaw with a heavier hand on the whiskey and a dash of sweet vermouth. This variation is similar in style to a Manhattan and is sure to pack a punch.

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Canadian Whisky

For a unique twist on the classic recipe, try using Canadian whisky instead of bourbon or rye. This will give the drink a slightly sweeter, smoother flavor.

Dry Martini Style

For a drier, more martini-like version of the Scofflaw, omit the grenadine and orange bitters and replace the dry vermouth with French vermouth. Garnish with an orange twist for a touch of citrus.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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