The Scarlett O’Hara Cocktail – a forgotten classic? Its history goes at least back to the 1950s when Ocean Spray promoted the drink to increase sales of their cranberry juice. It may however go right back to 1939, when the classic movie Gone with the Wind was released staring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, the drink’s namesake.
Southern Comfort itself certainly has the pedigree to have been around, originally introduced in 1874. Created by American-Irish New Orleans bartender Martin Wilkes Heron, who is often credited as being the original mixologist.
While Southern Comfort is often thought of as a flavoured whiskey given its colour and heritage, its actually a liqueur made from a neutral base and has a primary flavour of apricot along with spices and a whiskey flavouring. The original recipe was a flavoured bourbon, and at various points in its history hit has been made in this style.
- 1½oz (45ml) Southern Comfort
- ¾oz (22.5ml) Fresh lime Juice
- 1½oz (45ml) Cranberry Juice
Shake the ingredients with ice and double strain into a chilled cocktail (or coupe) glass and garnish with a lime twist.
Stylistically the drink resembles the Cosmopolitan and other modern classics even though it has far more heritage than many of them. In terms of flavour profile the Scarlett O’Hara brings strawberry notes up front (difficult to find usually without purees) and is nicely balanced. The dryness of cranberries and tart lime brilliantly balance out the sweetness of Southern Comfort.
I’m tempted to even try the drink with a touch of triple sec – making it closer still to the Cosmopolitan, if with a much more interesting base spirit to bring some depth and complexity to an otherwise fairly bland cocktail.