Cheers to a Storied Tradition
In 1924, several years into the so-called “Noble Experiment,” an impassioned prohibitionist by the name of Delcevare King offered $200 in gold to whoever coined a new word best describing “the lawless drinker.” The winner from over 25,000 entries submitted was “scofflaw.” A delicious cocktail dubbed “The Scofflaw” was immediately invented by a bartender at Harry’s New York Bar.
Prohibition was abolished on December 5th, 1933. In honor of the upcoming 82nd anniversary of the repeal—and in recognition of the fact that Alaska owes much of its history and character to those who have bucked conventions, flouted rules, or operated outside of the law—we wanted to highlight a few (in)famous scofflaws from Alaska’s past.
The scofflaw spirit shines bright in the legendary Alaskan reindeer herder and businesswoman Sinrock Mary. Born Changunak Antisarlook Andrewuk in 1870, Mary was the daughter of a Russian father and Inupiat mother. After inheriting her husband’s Siberian reindeer herd, Mary boldly bucked the institutionalized sexism of the day by ignoring social mores—and, in some cases, laws—against women owning businesses or property. She eventually went on to become one of Alaska’s richest and most accomplished women.
No scofflaw holds the title more ironically than the notable lawman Wyatt Earp, who made a small fortune by, in his own words, “mining the miners,” when he and his wife joined the Alaska Gold Rush and opened a saloon in Nome in 1899. Their establishment, the Dexter Roadhouse, quickly became Nome’s preeminent saloon for liquor and gambling. Earp, a known gambler and drinker himself, was once arrested outside his own bar for getting involved in a drunken brawl. Although only open for a scant two years, Earp’s popular saloon left an indelible wild-west mark on the state.
A list of more contemporary scofflaws wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Sitka’s Oliver “Porky” Bickar who commandeered a helicopter and willing pilot (but forgot to secure the blessing of the Coast Guard) for a nighttime run to stealthily deliver, and then ignite, 70 tires inside the cone of Mt. Edgecumbe. Sitka residents woke up on the morning of April 1, 1976 under the shocking impression that the extinct volcano had come to life.
While we would never endorse or support any scofflaw-like activity, we do raise our glass to those who may (or may not) have engaged in certain questionable activities that contributed to the history—for better or for worse—of our great state.
The Scofflaw (makes one)
1½ ounce Port Chilkoot Distillery Wrack Line Rye Whiskey
1 ounce dry vermouth
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce grenadine
1 dash Alaska Cocktail Company Orange Devils Club Bitters
Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.