Southern Comfort’s beginnings date to the New Orleans of a century ago. Located where the Mississippi River flows out of the heart of America, New Orleans was a major port, a city where a multitude of different cultures mixed, and urban refinements met the rough energy of the American frontier. The institutions born of that mixing include both the unique American liquor, Southern Comfort, and the uniquely American music of the blues.
The barkeeping practices of a century ago tended to the rough and ready side. Whiskey was the most widely sought spirit. Most whiskies were sold by the barrel and usually were left open by bars for easy serving. Few whiskies were sold by brand name; quality was often hit-or-miss. For more discriminating tastes, fine liquors were both imported from overseas and made locally, and many bars and clubs developed their own special cocktails and mixed drinks. (click photo for MIDI)
Into this setting came a young man named M.W. Heron, full of bright ideas for improving the drinking habits of his time. Heron created a smooth and delicious, full-bodied liquor with a touch of sweetness, a mellower aroma and a rich amber color. He called his unique liquor Southern Comfort.
M.W. Heron kept the recipe for his special spirit a close secret and perhaps that contributed to its success, for Southern Comfort was soon known and respected all along the lower Mississippi Valley.
1889 Heron determined to try his product’s fortunes in Memphis,
another major Mississippi
River port. Within a year, Heron had opened his own bar near Beale Street,
in this town that was soon to grow famous for blues, which had also traveled
north from New
Orleans. Southern Comfort was growing famous too; by the 1890s Heron
was bottling it to meet growing demand. According to an original label,
a fifth of Southern Comfort sold for $2.50 – quite a lot of money for those
days. (click photo for MIDI)
In St. Louis Heron opened what was to become one of the city’s most appreciated drinking establishments.
A famous sign on the wall of Heron’s bar read:
The product’s fame and popularity continued to grow. When the Southern Comfort Corporation of St. Louis began selling the brand after the repeal of Prohibition in 1934, it was already known throughout the U.S.A.
Popularity increased with the introduction of the Scarlett O’Hara cocktail named after the heroine of "Gone with the Wind", the famous movie released in 1939. During the next few decades Southern Comfort became known around the globe, acquiring a following of consumers in major world markets. (click photo of Rhet & Scarlet kissing)
Today, this unique American spirit created by M.W. Heron a century ago
is still one of a kind, and still made according to a secret formula. With
its smooth, full-bodied taste, mellow aroma and rich color, Southern Comfort
continues to win friends at home in America and abroad.
Comfort Through the Years:
This pictorial tour is fun with lots of interesting
reading. And we've really 'conspired' to load it with some great MIDI files
- So Happy Hunting!
The legend of Southern Comfort, the true American spirit, extends from
New Orleans in
the late 1880s through war, peace, depression, prosperity, rhythm, blues,
and the ever-changing American scene. Through it all, Southern Comfort
has been as smooth as ever.
1800's -Southern Comfort is Born -
Orleans, the city where the blues were born -- and if that doesn't
say "Take It Easy," what does? -- enterprising bartender M.W.
Heron combines a barrel of fine bourbon with secret ingredients to mellow
and slightly sweeten the rough edges. Southern Comfort is born, and a cheer
is heard around the world. (click photo for MIDI)
1889 - A Move to Memphis
Heron moves and takes Southern Comfort with him to another bluesy city, Memphis, opening a bar near Beale Street. In addition to serving Southern Comfort at his bar, Heron begins bottling it to meet customer demand. One fifth sells for the munificent sum (for the day) of $2.50. that's $8,000 today, more or less. "None Genuine But Mine," the label reads. In fashion news, women wear corsets, bustles, hoop skirts and petticoats, while men sport derby hats, bow ties and spats. On purpose. <g> (click photo for MIDI)
1900 - A Move to St. Louis -
1904 - Meet Me At The Fair -
the World's Fair in St. Louis,
Southern Comfort wins a blue ribbon for its excellent quality and mellow
taste. The Tilt-a-Whirl has yet to see the light of day, so people spin
in circles for amusement. (click photo for MIDI)
1920 - Prohibition Enacted (Boo!)
(click photo, medical bag, AND phone for MIDIS)
1934 - Prohibition Repealed (Yeah!)
1939 - "Frankly My Dear...."
1943 - Comfort in the Skies
During World War II, Southern Comfort takes to the air - in the form of several U.S. warplanes named for the drink. The drink becomes a favorite of U.S. servicemen and women, all the more valued because of its scarcity. In music news, a big hit is "I'm a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohoma with My Honolulu Mama Singin' That Beat-O, Beat-O, Flat-on-My-Seat-O, Hirohito Blues." Really. (click on photo for MIDI)
1946 - Postwar Progress
1953 - Suburbs Here We Come!
of couples marry, have children, move to the suburbs and buy wood-paneled
station wagons - not always in that order. They also invent the early-evening
cocktail hour, and Southern Comfort's popularity - mixed in such drinks
- skyrockets. The economy is rocking and rolling as well, and by the mid-1950s
America's production will be at an all-time high. Adding to Southern Comfort's
cachet - and to the cash reserves of some 20,000 consumers - are specially-made
banks of a Confederate Soldier
shooting coins into a bottle of Southern Comfort. By 1965, 90 percent
of the money
saved in the banks will have been spent on Beatle
wigs or white go-go boots.
(click photo for MIDI)
1954 - Big Mama Sings The Blues
1955 - Canasta, anyone?
1968 - Thanks Janis!
legend Janis Joplin often enjoys
Southern Comfort, and it's rumored that the mink coat she wears on the
album cover was a gift from the company. In lesser music news, emcee Bert
Parks sings "You Can't Be Caught Nappin' with Your Generation Gappin'
" at the Miss America pageant. (click photo
America Celebrates its 200th anniversary, and Southern Comfort celebrates
almost 100 years of quality and smoothness. The current fad of men's platform
shoes, on the other hand, fades quickly. (click photo
1979 - Hey Look - A Brand New Drink
1985 - Happy Birthday B.B.
B. King, a native son of Itta Bena, Mississippi, and producer of his
own kind of Southern Comfort, celebrates his 60th birthday on September
16th, and 2 years later he is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of
Fame. King got the nickname
in 1949 when he became a full-time disc jockey on WDIA, a Memphis radio
station. Calling himself the "Beale Street Blues Boy", it was
later shortened to "B.B."
(click photo for MIDI)
1989 -Bonnie Meet "Grammy"
years of paying her dues, Blues singer-guitarist Bonnie
Raitt releases her "Nick
of Time" album and wins multiple Grammy awards. Seven years later,
she appears in a surprise performance at Southern Comfort Rocks the Blues
first concert in San Francisco. (click photo for
MIDI and HERE
for lots of Bonnie Raitt lyrics)
1996 - Singing The Blues
Southern Comfort Rocks the Blues" tour begins, and thousands of fans
across the country are treated to the coolest crooners, the hottest howlers
and the growlin'-est guitar licks. With guest appearances by George Clinton,
Koko Taylor, and much, much more. Check out the tour dates in your area!
(click the photo)
1998 - Blues Rocks On