Party Like It’s 1920: Enjoy Some Prohibition Era Cocktails

Party Like It’s 1920: Enjoy Some Prohibition Era Cocktails

Prohibition in the US was thankfully repealed on December 5th, 1933, meaning a whole bunch of people that had continued to drink to excess, but had been forced to do it in secret speakeasy bars, could basically keep doing it, but in public again and with no fear of getting in trouble.

Drinking culture never went away despite the best efforts of the government and, in fact, we have clandestine boozing to thank for a whole bunch of cool cocktails.

Here are some to try for yourself.

Gin Rickey

This drink is pretty well considered the icon of the prohibition era. It was invented by Joe Rickey, a Civil War colonel in his local dive bar, Shoomaker’s. It was originally made with bourbon, but when prohibition hit and gin became the easiest thing to get hold of, it took on its modern form.

This one is quite simple. Get yourself a nice bottle of gin from our online store, half a lime, and some club soda. But, unless you like your drinks quite tart, you’re going to want to embellish on the original recipe a little and add some simple syrup.

Check out a recipe here.


This drink involves some odd bedfellows, namely rye whiskey and absinthe. This drink also happens to be described as ‘America’s first cocktail’ particularly on the New Orlean’s scene—although this title is disputed.

What is known is that the recipe used to call for cognac, but this was switched to whiskey during prohibition. Other key ingredients include Peychaud’s bitters—also invented in New Orleans supposedly—and a twist of lemon. What’s more, it should be served in a cold glass, but not over ice which can take the edge of the flavor.

Check out a recipe here.


Another cocktail that took advantage of the abundance of gin during the prohibition era, the Southside mixes muddled mint, gin, lime juice, and simple syrup. The appealing backstory states that the drink was invented by Chicago hooch smugglers who used the mint to cover up the poor taste of their illegal gin, before morphing into the summer drink of the season for East Coast yuppies.

Whether you believe that or not, if you’re making this drink today, the key is to muddle with care otherwise the mint can overpower the rest of the cocktail.

Check out a recipe here.

Ward Eight

The prohibition era was one of exceedingly dirty politics and the Ward Eight is a tribute to this. A Boston bartender supposedly created this drink to celebrate the election of a local political boss to the Massachusetts state legislature. The reason for the name? Well, election rigging in Boston’s Ward Eight ensured victory before the votes were even tallied.

To make this one, mix rye whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine—but make sure you’re using freshly squeezed orange juice.Party Like It’s 1920: Enjoy Some Prohibition Era Cocktails

Check out a recipe here

15th Dec 2017