The Common Law Cocktail

For almost the past year I’ve been a contributing blogger on DrinkWire, a spirited cocktail community headed up by, and they have presented their members a unique opportunity to create a version of a classic cocktail that uses PAMA Pomegranate liqueur, one of their main sponsors.  Now, I’m not always a fan of entering contests that promote what are often inferior, media driven spirits and liqueurs.  However, I actually utilize PAMA quite a bit as I find it is a quality liqueur made from real ingredients and lends a great alternative to using even “real” grenadine.  And, even though I don’t always enter in contests to often, I do actually enjoy the challenge of doing something I already love and also have an opportunity to gain greater exposure to other like-minded individuals of my craft.  And, well, hell, you might also win something.

The beauty, and challenge, of this contest is that there are quite a large number of classic cocktails out their that can easily substitute PAMA in them, simply for the fact that many that come to mind already had grenadine as an ingredient.  “Real” grenadine, as I put it, was not the artificially sweet syrup that more resembles cherry flavored cough syrup to which most people think of today, but was in fact syrup made from pomegranate seeds, juice or a combination of both.  Actually, grenadine comes fron the French word grenade which means “pomegranate”, and was a common sweetening agent in many classic cocktails.

Trying to decide which cocktail to modify can be difficult.  Do I go for the usual suspects like the Jack Rose or the Bacardi Cocktail?  Perhaps more potent ones as in the Monkey Gland or a Picon Punch?  Hmm…it’s quite a big decision.  And, am I just supposed to swap out the syrup for the liqueur, or do I dare modify and re-invent something?  Well, knowing me, I can’t just do a simply swap out and say ” OK, done!”  No.  What we need to do if find a cocktail that not only fits having the pomegranate flavor as a main note but also will be something that anyone voting for it will actually want to make it at home, but not find it too simplistic or dull, and that’s where a bit of modification or better put, “inspired by” comes in to play.

After a bit of research I came across a cocktail that you truly don’t see too much of anywhere but in a cocktail book.  That cocktail being the Scofflaw, or as written in many classic books such as the Savoy Cocktail Book, the Scoff-Law.  A simple concoction of rye, dry vermouth, lemon juice, orange bitters and grenadine, it was the perfect choice for me to experiment with.  Some sources omit the orange bitters but seeing as how most agree this was invented at the American Bar in the famous Savoy Hotel, we will assume the bitters are a correct addition.  This cocktail was supposedly created just after the term scofflaw was coined, during prohibition, to which the phrase constituted someone whom would flout the law especially when it is a law that is difficult to enforce, ergo prohibition.

Great historical references aside, I enjoyed these ingredients together but I felt they could use a little modern updating to appeal to many different tastes.  I like the orange and whiskey combo but I think this drink would fare better without the lemon, and be a bit more approachable utilizing bourbon versus rye and be balanced with something more bitter than conventional French vermouth.  One of my favorite aromatized wines to utilize when I want to balance the citrus, bitter and sweet components is Cocchi Americano.  It lends that herbal, citrus note like many dry vermouth but has a more bitter finish.

While my early attempts were agreeable, the cocktail still lacked something to bring a bit of modern flair, and something that would complement the bourbon, orange and pomegranate profile while lending more depth.  Chocolate.  It’s an underutilized component for most serious cocktails, and usually for good reason.  However, I have an amazing, quality chocolate bitters that is produced here in Seattle that lends a wonderful chocolate note to cocktails while still lending some complexity and not changing the texture or sweetness that a chocolate liqueur or syrup would do.  Now, while this is Scofflaw-esque in design, it demands a new designation to adjust for the cosmetic upgrades.  With its English, American and judicial roots, the name seemed to come somewhat naturally.  So head over to and vote, cheers!

Common Law Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Knob Creek 9 Year Bourbon

3/4 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur

1/2 oz Cocchi Americano

3/4 oz Fresh Orange Juice

2 dashes Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters

2 Preserved Cherries for Garnish

Combine ingredients over ice.  Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish and enjoy.


Color:  Reddish orange

Flavor:  Rich bourbon with toasted oak, pomegranate, orange, bitter chocolate, citrus and faint herbs

Texture:  Medium texture with a smooth finish

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