A Brief History of The Scorpion Bowl

Plus other shared cocktails around the country that are sure to get you and your friends tanked.

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  • TRADER VIC'S RUM KEG, LOS ANGELES Hit up any of Trader Vic’s locations around the world for this one: Pineapple, apricot, and passion fruit juices offset light and dark rums for a super sweet, tangy hangover in a bucket that goes down easy— too easy. (Photo:
  • CLOVER CLUB BOATHOUSE PUNCH, BROOKLYN This gin-based cocktail has the bitter notes of Aperol, florals of elderflower liqueur, and a good dose of citrus, all brimming with the effervescence of rosé Champagne. The menu says this luscious lady serves 4-6, but you may want one to yourself. (Photo:
  • FOUNDATION BAR VOLCANO BOWL, MILWAUKEE A flaming yellow bowl shines before Foundation’s plethora of wild tiki cocktails. The Volcano Bowl, a Scorpion Bowl spinoff, is brimming with icy, juicy, rummy drunkenness. 
  • TRICK DOG BUTTERMILK PUNCH, SAN FRANCISCOSF’s trendy Mission bar Trick Dog is pushing the limits of the cocktail format, offering libations fit for sharing in large bottles. Here, the Buttermilk Punch, a comforting mix of bourbon, orange liquor, marshmallow root infused milk, buttermilk and a few other equally esoteric ingredients. (Photo:
  • CALI COMFORT FISHBOWL, SPRING VALLEY, CALIFORNIA If you don’t want to drink like a fish, don’t go to Cali Comfort. Here, they fill round bowls with liquor of every color and flavor, float rubber duckies on top and call it a night. (Photo:
  • TEQA PUNCH BOWLS, NEW YORKTequa really wants you to have a good time. The food is fun, easy Gringo Mexican, and the drinks are big and strong. Here, a weekly special punchbowl that’s just dying for you to drink it up. (Photo:
  • JO JO'S MYREN'S FLAMING TINI, MILWAUKEEIf you’re at Jo Jo’s and you opt for a Flaming Tini, it may not look like this one: co-owner Myren Grosenick never makes it the same way twice. But if big, boozy, and on fire is what you’re after, it’s a solid bet. (Photo:
  • HALE PELE JET, PORTLAND, ORHale Pele is a Tiki bar focused on continuing the West Coast Tiki legacy by creating authentic cocktails and an unpretentious, laid-back vibe. Thus, their Volcano uses Don the Beachcomber’s original St. Paul Volcano recipe from the 1970s: Grapefruit, rum, and spice. (Photo: Hale Pele)
  • DRUNKEN MOOGLE SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS, HOUSTONThis black behemoth is a hulking tower of Guinness mixed with cider and Blueberry Ale and a chaser of equal parts brandy and grenadine. See if you can drink that in 10 minutes. (Photo:
  • ZAHAV'S LEMONNANA PITCHER, PHILADELPHIALive from Philadelphia, an herbaceous bourbon-citrus concoction, and a whole lotta love. Miami City Eats)
  • “Trader Vic” Bergeron (Photo:
  • The Mighty Scorpion Bowl (Photo:

According to cocktail legend, the Scorpion Bowl had its beginnings back in the 1930s at a little bar in Honolulu called The Hut, where some storied, unnamed barkeep poured rum, citrus, orgeat syrup, and brandy over ice, garnished with an Orange, and dubbed it “Scorpion.” Vic Bergeron (“Trader Vic”) picked up the recipe a decade or so later at his bar in Oakland, tweaked it a bunch and multiplied it by about four, and thus birthed the Scorpion Bowl, a large-format cocktail now served in Tiki bars and seedy Chinese joints around the world.

Perhaps by happy coincidence, this was going down in Oakland just as GIs returned triumphantly home from the South Pacific theater after WWII, whipping the West Coast into a Tiki frenzy fueled by fantastic, over-the-top tipples in the post-prohibition era.

And one of the beautiful things about a Scorpion Bowl is that no one can agree exactly on how to make it. Ole’ Vic himself changed his recipe constantly, eventually publishing at least three versions of the drink (the 1972 version is widely regarded as canonical).  Since then, there have been as many variations on the cocktail as there have been bartenders to make it. But, each centers on a non-negotiable mix of rum, citrus, orgeat syrup, and brandy, often with cognac or gin thrown in for good measure.

Click through the gallery above for a run-down of shareable cocktails around the country that are prime for group drinking.


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