Prohibition-Era Cocktails

Classic Prohibition cocktails for your local speakeasy

  • 17 Drink
  • Updated: Mar 23, 2017

When the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919, a whole generation of American drinkers suddenly became criminals. While some toed the line of Prohibition, many more found ways around the under-enforced law—booze smuggling, illegal home distilling, and underground bars known as speakeasies were commonplace throughout the period. And while many great recipes were lost to this "noble experiment," a fair few were invented out of necessity and survived to this day.

  • Light rum, Lime juice, Sugar syrup, Grenadine
    The Bacardi cocktail is a classic that has a balanced blend of sour and sweet with a spirit-forward flavor. Fresh juice rather than sour mix should be used for a tastier drink. The Bacardi Cocktail was originally the same as the Daiquiri, containing rum, lemon juice, and sugar, but then Grenadine was added to the mix.
  • Scotch, Gin, Rum, Creme de Cacao, Light cream
  • Gin, Lime Juice, Soda water
    The Gin Rickey is a classic gin cocktail made with a simple combination of fresh lime juice and soda water. It's a summertime favorite, and couldn't be easier to make. The Rickey is also a great recipe for mixing up your normal routine of Gin and Tonics, though it won't give you the same bitter kick if that's what you're looking for.The Rickey was invented b…
  • Light rum, Pineapple juice, Maraschino liqueur, Grenadine, Maraschino cherry
    Named for the famous silent film actress, the Mary Pickford cocktail is a Prohibition-era drink that has certainly aged well. It's fairly fruity and sweet, but not overpoweringly so. The result is a smooth, inoffensive cocktail that goes down almost dangerously easy, and looks gorgeous in the glass to boot (almost as gorgeous as its namesake herself).
  • Cognac, Cointreau, Lemon juice
    The Sidecar is a Prohibition-era classic with a nice balance of citrus and sweet, making it a perennial favorite. The exact origin of the Sidecar is unclear, and as a cocktail it definitely demands some experimentation with the proportions. Most ratios are equally valid (don't tell anyone we said that...), but this recipe is the one we've found most reliably…
  • Gin, Lemon juice, Simple syrup, Club soda, Maraschino cherry
    The Tom Collins is a classic summer highball that's perfect for the golf course or a backyard barbecue, made from gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. The Tom Collins is served in, you guessed it, a Collins glass, which is narrower than a typical highball. A nice side effect of this glassware is that when you tilt the drink all the way back to get …
  • Dry Vermouth, Gin, Maraschino liqueur, Anis, Orange bitters, Cherry
    The Tuxedo is a chic Martini with a sweet flavor from the anis liquer and the Maraschino cherry garnish.
  • Blended whiskey, Lemon, Grenadine, Powdered sugar, Orange, Cherry
  • Whiskey, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Egg White
    The Whiskey Sour is a classic drink, certainly, but it's never been accused of being a pretentious one. Nor, thanks to its unassuming simplicity, has it ever held a seat at the table with some of its classic brethren, like the Martini or Manhattan. As cocktail historian David Wondrich once put it, the Whiskey Sour "is the fried-egg sandwich of American mixol…
  • Gin, Cointreau, Lemon juice, Egg white
  • Ricard pastis, gin, Noilly Prat French vermouth, Angostura bitters
  • Gin, Champagne, Simple Syrup, Lemon Juice, Lemon Twist
    The French 75 is a classic sweet and sour cocktail, augmented nicely by refreshing bubbles from the champagne. This one made its first appearance in print during Prohibition in 1927.
  • whiskey, soda water
    The Highball, while technically referring to an entire family of drinks made with a spirit and a non-alcoholic mixer served in a tall glass with ice, is a name often given to a simple combination of whiskey and soda water. This refreshing drink first became popular in the UK in the late 19th or early 20th century, and is often referred to as a Scotch and Sod…
  • Bourbon, Mint, Simple Syrup, Crushed Ice
    Typically associated with the Kentucky Derby, this cocktail is a refreshing—if divisive—treat for the spring and summer. As far as the bourbon goes, we don’t recommend using anything too expensive unless you’ve got some income that desperately needs disposing, since it tends to get a little washed out by the other flavors. Be sure to find the freshest mint y…
  • Bourbon or rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, sugar cube, orange peel
    The Old-Fashioned cocktail dates back to the turn of the nineteenth century—the very dawn of the word “cocktail” itself—and is often regarded as the most essential of the classic cocktails, if not the best-known whiskey drink of all time.The Old-Fashioned cocktail is a simple drink, consisting of bourbon whiskey or rye whiskey, sugar or simple syrup, Angostu…
  • gin, simple syrup, lime juice, soda water, mint, limes
  • Gin, honey syrup, lemon
    The Bee’s Knees cocktail is a Prohibition-era classic made up of gin, honey and lemon. It is a delicious, spirit-forward cocktail that is a nice balance of sweet, tart, and strong.The phrase "bee's knees" was often used to call something "the best," and was a popular saying during the Roaring Twenties, a decade of opulence, decadence, and despite Prohibition…

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