While researching yesterday’s post I came across a cocktail in Dale De Groff’s The Craft of the Cocktail book called the Scarlett O’Hara. This drink was named, of course, after one of the main characters in Margaret Mead’s Gone With the Wind, who was later immortalized by actress Vivien Leigh in the 1939 film adaptation of the same name. Scarlett is a complicated figure, completely self-absorbed, guilty of petty jealousies, and scornful of everyone around her, leading many people to argue that she was not the heroine of the book at all. However, Margaret Mead defines the theme of the novel as survival, and because Scarlett chooses to survive by being willing to do what ever it takes to get there, that earns her the title according to Mead. It’s hard to argue with the author. The Scarlett O’Hara cocktail was created in the 1950s and contained Southern Comfort, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, and lime juice. Although there’s very little history available on the drink, it seems likely that it was part of a push by Ocean Spray to get their product into a cocktail, especially one that referenced such a household name. The flavor profile certainly worked for Scarlett’s character: bold and sweet, but also tart and sassy at the same time. I made the Scarlett O’Hara according to the original recipe, and while I could see why it had appeal back in the 1950s, I wanted to create a more updated version that would be more attractive to today’s drinkers.
I started out by replacing the Southern Comfort with Rebel Yell Small Batch Reserve bourbon because I wanted a base spirit that would have that underlying sense of warmth and sweetness, but with a bit of a bite and enough backbone to stand up to the other ingredients. I kept the lime juice, but replaced the Ocean Spray with a cranberry shrub from Tait Farms that mimicked the flavor of the original, but also brought more tartness and complexity. Cranberries have a natural affinity for oranges, so I made an orange peel simple syrup to boost the sugar and add a hint of bitterness. Finally, I added in some DRAM Citrus Medica bitters to play on that orange peel flavor and balance out all the other elements. The result was a much more modern cocktail that still remained faithful to Scarlett’s personality. I couldn’t keep the original name so I changed it to her famous closing line in the movie: “Tara! Home. I’ll go home, and I’ll think of some way to get him back! After all, tomorrow is another day!” Miss Scarlett was a bit of a procastinator; in fact there is an Urban Dictionary entry that uses her full name as a verb. To Scarlett O’Hara something means to put it off until tomorrow.
Tomorrow is Another Day
Combine all the ingredients in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for about 20 seconds until cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with an orange twist. Enjoy!
*Dissolve equal parts water and sugar in a pan, heating gently until the liquid is clear. Pour into a mason jar, add orange peels and seal. Let steep until cool and then remove the peels. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.