You probably needed a stiff drink at the end of the last season of Boardwalk Empire. Now that the new season is underway, we’re ready to offer you 10. Our anti-hero Nucky Thompson is leaner and meaner – and Prohibition-era Atlantic City is thirstier – than ever. There would have been a fair share of bad hooch circulating America’s favorite playground between the years of 1920 and 1933, when the country underwent the Noble Experiment of banning booze. But a few great drinks from the era survive. Sip one and tap into your inner jazz-age gangster.
- French 75: How can you go wrong with Champagne? The original recipe, from The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930, calls for gin, lemon juice, simply syrup and some bubbles. A later recipe replaces the gin with Cognac. Either one works for a toast.
- Twelve Miles Out: If you sailed out 12 miles off America’s shores, the Volstead Act, which enacted Prohibition, was void. Hence this little rum, Swedish Punch and Calvados (in equal parts) number, also from The Savoy.
- Scofflaw: Those who “scoffed” at the “law” that prohibited drinking were called scofflaws. Naturally, a cocktail was named for them (albeit in Paris, not Atlantic City). Dry vermouth, lemon juice and grenadine get mixed with rye for this one.
- Southside: “It’s known as a Prohibition gem,” Meaghan Dorman of Raines Law Room (a New York speakeasy named for a precursor to Prohibition, Raines Law, which limited drinking on Sundays) told us. “I’ve read that it was the drink of Al Capone and his gang.”
- Sidecar: This one’s a stiff one, made of Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice, in a 3-2-1 ratio, shaken and served up. It’s said to be named for an army captain who liked to be driven to the bar in a motorcycle sidecar. How adorably old-timey.
- Dubonnet Cocktail: Dubonnet was used to mask the taste of rotgut gin in this drink, says Maxwell Britten of Maison Premiere in Brooklyn. But making it with a quality gin, he points out, results in a suave sipper.
- Mary Pickford: Britten also recommends this fun little concoction of white rum, fresh pineapple juice, maraschino liqueur and grenadine, created by Eddie Woelke, who like many a bartender during Prohibition, fled to Havana, where he was free to shake and stir to his heart’s content.
- Ward 8: Created before Prohibition, it’s easy to see why this one was popular during the dry spell. Rye whiskey, which would have been harsh stuff at the time, is masked with lemon juice, orange juice and grenadine. Nowadays, better quality rye has much improved this drink.
- Bee’s Knees: A spoonful of honey, plus lemon and orange juice, would have taken the edge off bathtub gin in this 1920s cocktail. Today’s craft gins lend a much-welcome complexity to this sweet-tart recipe.
- El Presidente: Americans who could afford to escape the booze ban would have headed for Paris or London… unless they were real party animals, in which case they went to Havana. There they would have sipped this mix of rum, vermouth, curaçao and grenadine, named for Cuban Prez Gerardo Machado.
Try out these other Prohibition era cocktails on Food Republic: