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Southern Comfort Liqueur

Southern Comfort Liqueur


By Robert Plotkin

It's difficult to conceive of a bar or cocktail lounge becoming a popular success without classic Southern Comfort stocked on the backbar. It's an extremely versatile liqueur and an integral ingredient in scores of classic recipes. As generations of bartenders have come to learn, Southern Comfort is an indispensable, "must have" product.

The brand enjoys the distinction of being the first liqueur crafted in the United States. Southern Comfort originated in New Orleans, where in 1874 an Irish-born barman named M. W. Herron created a concoction named Cuffs and Buttons, an upscale reference to white tie and tails. He later moved to St. Louis where he renamed his luxurious potion Southern Comfort.

The original recipe called for "good quality bourbon, add an inch of vanilla bean, about a quarter of a lemon, half of a cinnamon stick, four cloves, a few cherries and an orange bit or two." Herron would allow the ingredients to macerate for several days before straining off the solids and sweetening with honey.

The liqueur is now made in Louisville, Kentucky, from the same closely guarded, proprietary recipe. The makers of Southern Comfort have let it be known that it is crafted from a base of pure grain neutral spirits and is flavored with peach liqueur, fresh peach and natural citrus extracts. After the infusion process is complete, the liqueur is filtered and bottled at both 70 and 100 proof.

It is interesting to note that to this day many people think of Southern Comfort as a bourbon. This widely held misconception is easily understood. Southern Comfort has a marvelous, whiskey quality to its character. The liqueur has a velvety textured, medium-weight body and a delectable bouquet with prominent floral and citrus notes. Its lively aromatics do a splendid job preparing the palate for the pleasure to come. The liqueur features the flavors of fresh peaches, oranges and vanilla. The finish is long, smooth and delicious.

Southern Comfort is certainly a "must have" product. The liqueur is popularly featured in everything from Manhattans and Old Fashioneds to the Sex on the Beach and Alabama Slammer family of drinks. It marries beautifully with juice and a wide range of other liqueurs. There's a reason why mixologists so frequently reach for SoCo.

In the summer of 2010, the brand launched Southern Comfort Lime. The line extension features added lime flavor and is bottled at 55 proof.