There comes a time of year when we turn to sweeter and fruitier drinks for the refreshing coolness and summer flavours they bring. One favourite ingredient that makes a good starting point for a tasty summer cocktail is that signature liqueur of the American South, Southern Comfort. Also known as ‘SoCo’, Southern Comfort is flavoured with whiskey, citrus and cinnamon, among other fruits and spices that take the edge off the harshness of bourbon or rye whiskey. With its origins in late 18th century New Orleans and linked with characters of the southern epic Gone With the Wind, SoCo remains a pleasing flavour for southern belles and beaus, along with anyone else with a taste for the more comfortable things in life.

Southern Comfort Old Fashioned

You may also see it as the Bold Fashioned or the Comfort Old Fashioned, this is a sweeter version of the traditional Old Fashioned, well suited as a dessert drink. It is made simply by placing two teaspoons of sugar in an old fashioned glass, along with 2 dashes of Angostura bitters and a dash of club soda, then stirring the sugar in. Next, add a large ice cube and 60ml Southern Comfort, garnishing with an orange twist and a cherry.

Southern Hurricane

Another variety of a classic cocktail, the Southern Hurricane replaces rum with Southern Comfort, served in the specially-named hurricane glass. This cocktail uses sweet and sour mix (also known as sour mix), which is a mix of sugar syrup with citrus, sometimes also with egg whites. Measures of 45ml of each ingredient: Southern Comfort, sweet and sour mix, orange juice and pineapple juice are added to a shaker along with a splash of grenadine and ice, shaken and then strained into the ice-filled glass. The drink should be garnished with an orange wedge and a cherry for a sweet and fruity summer cocktail with a southern twist.

Southern Comfort Punch

Punch is always a great start to summer, and Southern Comfort can lead the way. The Southern Punch can be made in many different ways, but this version uses 15ml Bourbon, 45ml Southern Comfort, 60ml fresh pineapple juice, 30ml fresh lemon juice, 15ml grenadine and 15ml sugar syrup. All of the ingredients are shaken and then strained into an ice-filled collins glass, and garnished with a wedge of pineapple. The taste is tropical with a depth of liqueur and a hint of lemon.

Alabama Slammer

The Alabama Slammer, or Southern Slammer, originated some time in the seventies and was later popularised by American football player, Brett Favre. The cocktail takes 30ml Southern Comfort, 30ml amaretto, 30ml sloe gin and 60ml orange juice, shaken with ice and strained into a ice-filled highball glass. The best way to garnish is with an orange wheel to complement the citrus, and a cherry for the amaretto. This makes for a fruity cocktail, for which the amaretto and gin may be more noticeable than the whiskey flavours.

Scarlett O’Hara

Though not mentioned in the 1936 novel or 1939 film, this cocktail appeared after the movie, Gone with the Wind, in tribute to the character played by Vivian Leigh. The cocktail is made with 45ml Southern Comfort, 45ml cranberry juice and 22.5ml fresh lime juice, all shaken with ice and strained into an ice-filled collins glass, then garnished with a wedge of lime. The citrus and berries combine with the sweet whiskey and spices to result in a cocktail that is refreshingly tart, and with a colour (of course) of scarlett.

Rhett Butler

There could hardly be a Scarlett O’Hara cocktail without one for her roguish suitor. This is made with 30ml orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier), 60ml Southern Comfort, 30ml fresh lime juice and 30ml fresh lemon juice, shaken with ice and strained into an ice-filled old fashioned glass. The garnish is a lime wedge, and against the sweeter Scarlett O’Hara, the citrus leaves a sour taste that is true to character. A cocktail good enough for Clarke Gable? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall

From a time in the seventies and eighties when sexual innuendo-named cocktails were all the rage, here the ‘slow’ is from sloe gin, ‘comfortable’ is from Southern Comfort, ‘screw’ is from the orange juice of a screwdriver cocktail, and the ‘wall’ is from the Galiano used in the Harvey Wallbanger. For this, 45ml vodka, 15ml Southern Comfort and 90ml orange juice are stirred with ice and strained into an ice-filled collins glass. 15ml sloe gin is floated with a bar spoon on the top to bleed into the drink, followed by a float of 15ml Galiano. The garnish is an orange wedge and the taste is of a sweet and fruity summer cocktail that is also potent.

With the warmth of summer fruits and spices, Southern Comfort is an agreeable liqueur that often doesn’t need much more than juice or soda and a fruit garnish to make a pleasing drink for the warmer days. But it also works as a useful ingredient for a range of different cocktails, alongside whiskey, vodka, gin and amaretto, as well as sweet and fruity flavourings. Experimentation may lead to cocktail variations with remarkable results, so follow your instincts and see what comfortable cocktails you can create!

With bartending there’s no end to learning and exploration, so why not try out a bartending course with European Bartender School?