Let’s start of the month of February with a quartet of drinks that will be perfect to enjoy around Valentine’s Day! Try a Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, Melanie Hamilton or Ashley Wilkes!
That’s right each of the four main characters of Margaret Mitchell’s classic 1936 novel (or its 1939 movie adaptation) Gone With the Wind has inspired a cocktail creation meant to reflect the characters they embody. How successfully that’s done is subjective, but these four cocktails are ideal for themed parties and suit a variety of palates. I’m not certain when or how they were created. I happened to come across the recipes in a 2008 compilation of cocktail recipes in 1001 Cocktails: a Cocktail Recipe for Every Occasion And Mood, but it’s likely they’ve been around far longer than that.
By far, my favorite, would have to be the Melanie Hamilton. I love the blend of melon and citrus flavors! Next, surprisingly, I would favor the Ashley Wilkes. It’s a strong, flavorful drink for a rather weak character. But more importantly, it’s similar to a mint julep, which I absolutely love. Done right, the Scarlett O’Hara is a bit tart (literally). The drink is similar to a Cosmopolitan, but a bit stronger in flavor because of the Southern Comfort. Finally, there’s the Rhett Butler. The lemony-lime concoction makes for a pleasant drink, like drinking spiked lemonade on a summer day, but it doesn’t quite suit my idea of the character.
What you’ll need:
For the Scarlett O’Hara: Southern Comfort, Cranberry Juice & Lime Juice
In a shaker over cracked ice, pour in 2 ounces each of Southern Comfort and cranberry juice. Add in an ounce of lime juice. Shake and then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cranberry frozen in an ice cube.
For the Melanie Hamilton: Midori, Triple Sec (or Cointreau), and Orange Juice
In a shaker over cracked ice, pour in 2 ounces each of Triple Sec and orange juice. Add in an ounce of Midori. Shake and then strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a slice of melon (or cantaloupe).
For the Ashley Wilkes: Bourbon, Peach Brandy, Lime Juice, Mint and Simple Syrup
Muddle mint (about 3 to 5 leaves depending on preference) in an old-fashioned glass and add cracked (or cubed) ice. In a shaker over cracked ice, pour in 2 ounces of bourbon, one ounce of peach brandy, and a dash or two of lime juice. Add in a teaspoon of simple syrup (one part sugar dissolved in one part water). Shake and then strain into your glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
For the Rhett Butler: Southern Comfort, Curaçao, Lime Juice and Lemon Juice
In a shaker over cracked ice, pour in 2 ounces of Southern Comfort, and a 1/2 ounce each of lime juice and Curaçao. Add in a teaspoon or two of lemon juice. Shake and then strain into an old-fashioned glass with cracked ice. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lemon peel twist.
How I like it: I followed the recipes a closely as possible with a few notable variations. If you’ve got steady hands, carefully pour the ingredients right into your glass, especially the ones served up with ice. Just use a stirrer to blend the ingredients well. You’ll want to chill your glasses ahead of time, but it’ll save a lot of time.
Also, I strongly recommend not using the sugar syrup for the Ashley Wilkes and instead using a tried-and-true (and Southern) substitute: honey. Boil about 1/2 cup of water and add a generous teaspoon of honey (this can be done ahead of time). Once the honey is dissolved, add a tablespoon or two to your drink. Bourbon may be on the strong side for some, and a good American whiskey works just as well. Peach brandy may be hard to come by, and so I used an apricot brandy instead. Alternatively, you may consider using peach schnapps as a substitute.
For the Rhett Butler, blue Curaçao is quite common, but a clear variation is not. Curaçao is created from the laraha peel from a plant similar to Valencia oranges and transplanted to Curaçao in the Caribbean. An orange-flavored liqueur like Triple Sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier are often used as a substitute unless you don’t mind turning your drink blue.
As for the Melanie Hamilton and Scarlett O’Hara, I didn’t really stray from the above recipes. Although I probably poured a bit more cranberry and a little less orange juice for my drinks. And it is, however, far easier to just freeze a few cranberries than try to futz with trying to create an ice cube with a cranberry frozen inside.
Tomorrow may be another day, but it will never come if you don’t drink responsibly!