Mixology: The Scofflaw

Stir Up Some Trouble with the Scofflaw, a Drink For All You Rule-Breakers Out There

Story by Molly Wellmann; Photography by Victor Sizemore


Imagine you’re a bartender at a popular bar in Paris, France, during the 1920s. Prohibition is in full swing in America. Your clientele is made up mostly of American tourists and ex-pats, and the talk is mostly news from the States, notably how the Noble Experiment is fast falling on its face, thanks to the crime wave that has accompanied it.

On January 16, 1924, you come across a Prohibition-related story in the American newspapers that is just so crazy you feel it’s only right to make a mockery of it—with a drink!

Allow me to elaborate. There was a wealthy banker in Quincy, Massachusetts, named Delcevare King who was a strong advocate of the Volstead Act, which established Prohibition in the United States. In fact, according to the Boston Globe, he was vice president of the Massachusetts chapter of the Anti-Saloon League and an officer of an anti-vice organization called the Watch and Ward Society. He was appalled by the crazy lawlessness that had taken root around drinking, what with the bootlegging and the speakeasies and the gangs.

He thought there should be a term that could be used to call out the people who were blatantly breaking the law as it applied to booze. So he put a contest together and offered $200 in gold to the person who came up with the best moniker.

King himself and a minister from Boston were the judges. The criteria: The term should be a one- or two-syllable word that would sting and that would complement President Warren G. Harding’s contention that “lawless drinking is a menace to the republic.”

Newspapers from Boston to Los Angeles ran the story, and more than 25,000 entries were submitted, including “boozshevic,” “contralaw,” and “wetocrat.” Mrs. Kate Butler and a man named Henry Irving Dale, both from Massachusetts, came up with the winning term, “scofflaw,” and split the prize money.

King was heavily mocked in the papers by many a “dry” hater, but the best mockery of all was a cocktail invented by a bartender named Jock at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris and called…The Scofflaw.

Scofflaw Cocktail

  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye
  • 1 ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry
  • 0.5 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 ounce grenadine
  • Dash of orange bitters

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass.

Molly Wellmann
Official Contributor

Queen of the Queen City cocktail scene. Renowned mixologist, face of Wellmann’s Brands LLC—Famous Neons Unplugged, Japp’s Since 1879, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, and Myrtle’s Punch House. Author of Handcrafted Cocktails: The Mixologist's Guide to Classic Drinks for Morning, Noon & Night.