If you were to ask the average bar patron, "Is Southern Comfort whiskey?" they'd likely say yes. Southern Comfort has long been the whiskey of choice for those who find the other brands a bit too harsh. The fact of the matter, however, is that it isn't a whiskey at all. The sweetness of the elixir was meticulously crafted well over 100 years ago by a bartender named Martin Wilkes Heron specifically to create a spirit that was similar to a whiskey, but more palatable.
So how is Southern Comfort made? It's a secret, but some facts about Southern Comfort that this list explores include its long history, people who have loved it, its original name, and the surprising state that drinks the most of it. So, the next time you order a round of Sicilian Kisses for your pals - that's equal parts SoCo and Amaretto with a cherry dropped in the bottom - you can impress them with one of these surprising facts.
It's Actually a Liqueur
People often think that Southern Comfort is a whiskey, but it's not. It’s actually a liqueur, flavored to taste like a whiskey. It’s likely made from vodka, fruit, various spices, and a little bourbon. That's why you might find it a little sweeter than your average true whiskey.
We can't tell you precisely what it's made out of because that's a secret the company keeps close to the vest. Charles K. Cowdery, who once worked for the company in charge of marketing the spirit, said that he never got the details on what exactly was in it, despite writing all the recipe books. He thinks it’s vodka, a touch of bourbon, sugar, and a fruit concentrate. Cowdery guesses that the primary fruit is apricot and notes that it's probably the most successful fake whiskey of all time, though he says they never called it a whiskey. They called it "The Grand Old Drink of the South."
In Gone with the Wind, one of the characters, Scarlett O’Hara, drank a Southern Comfort cocktail which was later named after her. The recipe is simple: mix SoCo, cranberry juice, and lime, and put it on the rocks. The drink was supposedly created in 1938, about the same time as the film came out.
Southern Comfort was not always called Southern Comfort. When it was first invented, it went by the name Cuff & Buttons. It certainly has a dapper charm about it, though it’s hard to imagine it by any other name now. A popular drink at New Orleans watering holes in the late 1800s was something called the Hat and Tails, so it’s possible Heron named his alcohol as a nod to that cocktail.