Is there a more perfect name out there in the beverage world than Southern Comfort? Those two words alone conjure up strong feelings of southern hospitality, good times, and friendship.
Southern Comfort transports you to a sunny porch on a beautiful summer day, and that’s before you’ve even taken a sip. Southern Comfort is associated with such good vibes that its friends even have a nickname for it: “SoCo.”
An alcoholic beverage with a nickname might cause snobs to turn up their nose but that’s fine. Southern Comfort isn’t for snobs–even though they’re also secretly drinking it.
Southern Comfort is a smooth, sweet, easy-drinking experience every time. So what is this magical elixir known as Southern Comfort? You would be excused if you assumed this was bourbon or whiskey.
It has the same golden brown color, the same type of bottle, and is probably found in the same section as bourbon in your local liquor store. Southern Comfort is something different.
Southern Comfort is actually considered a whiskey liqueur, which is a blend of whiskey, fruits, and spices.
A Brief History of Southern Comfort
Southern Comfort was created in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1874 by a bartender named Martin Wilkes Heron.
The goal, as it is with most cocktails, was to keep the rich flavor of the bourbon while making it sweeter and more accessible. He concocted a blend of bourbon, honey, fruit, and spices in an effort to create a smoother drink.
This drink was called Cuffs and Buttons. While this isn’t necessarily a bad name for a drink, it doesn’t have the ring to it that Southern Comfort does. The name was eventually changed, and that wasn’t all.
Martin Wilkes Heron also moved his operation from New Orleans, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee, and then eventually to St. Louis, Missouri. Along the way, he patented Southern Comfort in 1889 and started bottling and selling his cocktail in a bottle.
Cocktails in a bottle, what a concept!
These new bottled cocktails came equipped with some amazing marketing slogans: “None Genuine But Mine” and “Two per customer. No Gentleman would ask for more.” “None Genuine But Mine” can still be found on the bottles to this day.
Southern Comfort also picked up some esteemed hardware in the early days. Southern Comfort won a gold medal for “fine taste and excellent quality” at the 1900 Paris World Exposition and the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
Things were going well for Southern Comfort, and then prohibition happened, which completely stopped the production of Southern Comfort for years. Thankfully, it was started back up post-prohibition and has had continued success.
In 2016, the brand was acquired by New Orleans, Louisiana-based Sazerac Company to bring its journey full circle. The Sazerac company is home to many other famous brands like Sazerac Rye, Buffalo Trace, E. H. Taylor, George T. Stagg, Blanton’s, and many others.
As previously mentioned, Southern Comfort is a whiskey liqueur. A liqueur is generally defined as a distilled spirit that is sweetened with various flavors and extracts.
Southern Comfort started out with a whiskey base but for most of the post-prohibition years, it used a neutral spirit. It wasn’t until Sazerac took ownership that whiskey returned as the base liquor.
Southern Comfort Prices, Variations & Sizes
In addition to the Original Southern Comfort, there have been some additional variants released throughout the years. Currently, there are three main varieties: Original, Black, and 100.
- Southern Comfort Original is the one we all grew up with. This 70 proof (35% alcohol by volume) whiskey liqueur comes in two main sizes:
- 750ml, From $16.99
- 75L, From $27.99
- Southern Comfort Black is a newer addition to the family. This bold, smoky version of Southern Comfort is 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume). It is available in the two main sizes at a similar price point:
- 750ml, From $16.99
- 75L, From $28.99
- Southern Comfort 100 is the biggest and boldest version of Southern Comfort at 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume). SoCo 100 is also available in two sizes at a slightly higher price:
- 750ml, From $18.99
- 75L, From $32.99
Southern Comfort Alternatives and Comparisons
Not many drinks can match the feeling when you’re enjoying Southern Comfort but if you need another whiskey liqueur or bourbon there are some options available.
The top Southern Comfort alternatives in the sweet whiskey liqueur category would be Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and Wild Turkey American Honey. Both of these come in at 70 proof and 71 proof respectively – almost identical to Southern Comfort. They also have a whiskey base and are sweetened with honey to give it that smooth taste that works on its own and especially in cocktails.
If you’re looking for a whiskey liqueur with a little more horsepower then you might want to give Yukon Jack a try. Known as “The Black Sheep of Canadian Liquors” this is a Canadian whiskey liqueur made with honey that clocks in at an impressive 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume).
Bourbon, which is a subset of whiskey, is known for having a naturally sweet taste that could scratch the Southern Comfort itch. Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, and Woodford Reserve are all excellent options to drink straight or use in cocktails in place of Southern Comfort.
How to Drink Southern Comfort
Southern Comfort is one of the more versatile beverages out there. Without doing anything to it you already have a cocktail in your glass. That being said, Southern Comfort is most commonly consumed with lime or mixed into a vast array of cocktails.
Due to its versatility, Southern Comfort can be enjoyed in containers of all shapes and sizes. A shot glass, rocks glass, and highball glass all do the trick.
Southern Comfort should be stored at room temperature but is best consumed on the rocks or shaken with ice.
FAQ – Southern Comfort
Is Southern Comfort a whiskey or a bourbon?
No. Southern Comfort isn’t a whiskey or bourbon. It is a liqueur, a distilled spirit that is sweetened with various flavors and extracts. The original formula and the current formula use whiskey as the base for this whiskey liqueur, but for some years a neutral spirit was used.
What do you mix with Southern Comfort?
Southern Comfort can be savored with lime or neat, but it’s also great in cocktails.
1 ounce Southern Comfort Original
1 ounce amaretto
1 ounce sloe gin
2 ounces orange juice
1 orange wedge
Shake & strain into a glass. Garnish with cherry and orange wedge.
2 ounces Southern Comfort Black
3 ounces ginger beer
1 lime wedge
Pour Southern Comfort into a glass filled with ice and then add ginger beer. Stir and garnish with the lime wedge and mint leaves.
1.5 ounces Southern Comfort Original
1.5 ounces sweet and sour mix
1.5 ounces orange juice
1.5 ounces pineapple juice
1 splash grenadine
1 orange wedge
Pour Southern Comfort Original, sweet and sour mix, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, and ice into a blender. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass, and garnish with the orange wedge and cherry.
Is Southern Comfort gluten free?
Yes, Southern Comfort is gluten free. Most pure distilled spirits are naturally gluten-free even if their base component has gluten.
However, once you start getting into liqueurs and flavored alcohols the question is more complex. It’s best to do your research on anything you consume if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy.
How many calories are in Southern Comfort?
1 shot of Southern Comfort has 70 calories.
Finding calorie information on spirits and liqueurs can be tricky since they are not required to include on the package like other grocery store items.
How many carbs are in Southern Comfort?
1 shot of Southern Comfort has 3 grams of carbs.
Interesting Facts & Myths
Southern Comfort sells cartons of non-alcoholic egg nog during the holiday season. Don’t worry, they still advise you to add some Southern Comfort to the mix.
Would you believe that Southern Comfort has ties to the American Film Institute’s top 100 films? That’s right the current number 4 film on the AFI’s list is “Gone with the Wind” whose main character is Scarlett O’Hara.
The Scarlett O’Hara cocktail was created sometime after the film’s release in 1939 and is meant to give the feel of being a southern belle.
Here is a bonus cocktail recipe:
2 ounces Southern Comfort
½ ounce lime juice
2-4 ounces cranberry juice (to taste)
1 lime wedge (garnish)
Combine Southern Comfort and lime juice. Top with cranberry juice and garnish with the lime wedge.