1920s Drink Recipes That'll Make You Feel Bold

Updated December 20, 2021
1920s cocktails in drinking glasses

Even though Prohibition outlawed alcohol consumption during the 1920s, it didn't stop people from consuming delicious cocktails in speakeasies and their homes. Bootleggers found ways to create and supply liquors such as gin and whiskey, which served as the alcoholic base for many of the popular drinks of the 1920s Prohibition era.

Highball

Highballs typically have a spirit cut

The highball was invented in the late 1800s but gained popularity during Prohibition. Highballs typically have a spirit cut with a mixer over ice. This recipe is a simple whiskey and club soda, although ginger ale is also a popular choice. Although highball drinks are traditionally ungarnished, feel free to garnish with a lime wheel or lemon wedge if you wish.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a highball glass, add ice and whiskey.
  2. Top off with club soda.
  3. Garnish with lime wheel.

Dubonnet

Dubonnet is a sweet, aromatised wine-based aperitif

Dubonnet, a French red fortified wine often consumed as an apéritif, was used in this cocktail in the 1920s to camouflage the flavor of substandard gin. The result was an aromatic and dry drink.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1½ ounces Dubonnet
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a mixing glass, add ice, gin, Dubonnet, and lemon juice.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon twist.

Ward 8

Ward 8 is a cocktail originating in 1898 in Boston

Legend holds that the Ward 8 cocktail was made as a drink to honor the election of Martin Lomasney, a powerful and influential Massachusetts political figure first elected at the turn of the 20th Century. The drink was popular in the 1920s because it featured rye whiskey of dubious quality masked by sweet grenadine and orange juice. Of course, since Prohibition is over, you can use a quality rye whiskey in this cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ ounce grenadine
  • Ice
  • Lemon wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rye whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Bee's Knees

Bee's knees cocktail

The expression "bee's knees" was popular during the 1920s, a phrase meaning that someone or something was the best. The bee's knees cocktail was popular because it used bathtub gin--a popular Prohibition spirit, which wasn't the smoothest of alcohols. Sweet honey and tart lemon juice disguised the gin's sometimes less than palatable flavor. You can also try a spicier tequila version, the bee sting cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce honey syrup
  • Ice
  • Lemon wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Southside Cocktail

Southside Cocktail is an alcoholic beverage made with gin

Gin was popular during Prohibition because it was relatively easy to produce in secret. The Southside cocktail is another gin-based drink that disguised the rather harsh flavors of bathtub gin by using aromatic and sweet ingredients. In this case, mint, lime, and simple syrup did the lifting.

Ingredients

  • 3-5 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Mint sprig and lime wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle mint leaves and lime juice.
  3. Add ice, gin, and simple syrup.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into chilled glass.
  6. Garnish with mint sprig and lime wheel.

Colony Cocktail

Colony Cocktail calls for gin, grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur

New York's Colony was a speakeasy in the 1920s, and they created this gin cocktail, which gained popularity during Prohibition. Once again, the trick was in disguising the flavors of bathtub gin, this time with grapefruit and stone fruits.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces gin
  • 1 ounce grapefruit juice
  • ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • Ice
  • Grapefruit slice and rosemary sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, gin, grapefruit juice, and maraschino liqueur.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with grapefruit slice and rosemary sprig.

Clover Club

Clover Club Thus when the drink is shaken a characteristic foamy head is formed

Egg white gives the Clover Club a foamy and rich flavor, its name an ode to where this cocktail was first created: at the popular Clover Club speakeasy in New York.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce raspberry liqueur
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  • Raspberry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add gin, raspberry liqueur, lemon juice, and egg white.
  3. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  4. Add ice to shaker.
  5. Shake to chill.
  6. Strain into chilled glass.
  7. Garnish with raspberry.

Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel it’ll be delicious

Bitters and cème de menthe help disguise the bathtub gin's harshness in this very popular 1920s cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dashes white cème de menthe
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add gin, lime juice, white creme de menthe, and bitters.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with mint sprig.

Mint Julep

Mint julep On the rocks; poured over ice

The mint julep has come to be associated with the Kentucky Derby, but it has been around since the early 1800s. The popularity of the drink can be seen in literature as well, as it is name-dropped as a drink of choice throughout The Great Gatsby. Mint and sugar sweetens the bourbon, which may have been of questionable quality during Prohibition.

Ingredients

  • 5-7 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprig and powdered sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass or Julep cup, muddle mint leaves with a splash of simple syrup.
  2. Add crushed ice, bourbon, and remaining simple syrup.
  3. Stir to mix and frost glass.
  4. Garnish with powder sugar dusted mint sprig.

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford is a Prohibition Era cocktai

This cocktail is named for a popular 1920s film actress and offers a fruity departure from many of the gin-based Prohibition-era drinks.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces white rum
  • 1½ ounces pineapple juice
  • ¼ ounce grenadine
  • 5 drops maraschino liqueur
  • Ice
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, white rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and maraschino liqueur.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with cherry.

Sidecar

Sidecar Cocktail

The Sidecar has been zooming around the cocktail scene since the early 1920s, playing well with other dark spirit cocktails.

Ingredients

  • Lemon wedge and sugar for rim
  • 1½ ounces cognac
  • ¾ ounce orange liqueur
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. To prepare rim, rub the rim of the martini glass or coupe with the lemon wedge.
  2. With the sugar on a saucer, dip either half or the entire rim of the glass in the sugar to coat.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into prepared glass.
  6. Garnish with raspberry.

White Lady

White lady cocktail

A close cousin of the Sidecar, the White Lady worked her way through Prohibition social circles, bathtub gin readily available for the base. If you can't handle the sight of a drink without a garnish, a lemon peel works best.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • Lemon or orange twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add gin, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and egg white.
  3. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  4. Add ice to shaker.
  5. Shake to chill.
  6. Strain into chilled glass.
  7. Garnish with a twist.

Bacardi Cocktail

The Bacardi cocktail is a cocktail made primarily with Bacardi Superior

The Bacardi cocktail was a late bloomer on the Prohibition scene in America but was a favorite of Americans visiting Cuba during those dark, dry years.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Bacardi light-rum
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce grenadine
  • Ice
  • Lime ribbon for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rum, lime juice, and grenadine.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lime ribbon.

Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri conducted his love affair with the daiquiri.

Like everything with Hemingway, the stronger the better. The rumor is he stopped by a bar, enjoyed a classic daiquiri, but wanted a bit more of a kick with extra rum. From there, the Hemingway daiquiri spawned.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • ½ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Ice
  • Lime wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice, and grapefruit juice.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lime wheel.

Jack Rose

Jack Rose served with orange garnish

The Jack Rose quietly crept onto the bar scene in the early 1900s, before having a boom in popularity in the 1920s, with its surge due in part to a Hemingway novel.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces applejack brandy
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce grenadine
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, applejack, lemon juice, and grenadine.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lemon peel.

Old-Fashioned

Old Fashioned Developed during the 19th century

The old-fashioned was swirling around glasses long before Prohibition, but the accessibility of bourbon and the need for few other ingredients meant its popularity sky-rocketed during the dry years.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass, add bitters to sugar cube and muddle.
  2. Add ice and bourbon.
  3. Stir to mix.
  4. Garnish with orange peel.

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour it is sometimes called a Boston Sour

The whiskey sour was an easy way to cover up the taste of bitter or unsatisfactory bourbon, but when you have no other options, bad bourbon is better than no bourbon.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • Bitters for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
  2. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  3. Add ice to shaker.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  6. Garnish with 2-3 drops of bitters, creating a design.

Monkey Gland

Monkey Gland has nothing to do with monkeys or their glands

While the name can raise some eyebrows, its source references a questionable scientific idea in the 1920s, but the flavor will have you nodding your head yes as you dive in for another sip.

Ingredients

  • ¼ ounce absinthe
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ ounce grenadine
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. Rinse chilled glass with absinthe, discarding remainder.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, gin, orange juice, and grenadine.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into prepared glass.
  6. Garnish with orange peel.

Sazerac

Sazerac widely regarded as the world's oldest cocktail. According to legend

The Sazerac Distillery was one of just a handful of distilleries allowed to continue to produce medicinal whiskey, with a heavy wink, during Prohibition. It's no wonder this drink was popular among those breaking dry laws.

Ingredients

  • ¼ ounce absinthe to rinse the glass
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's biters
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Rinse rocks glass with absinthe, discarding the remainder.
  2. In a mixing glass, muddle sugar cube with bitters.
  3. Add ice and rye whiskey.
  4. Stir to mix.
  5. Strain into prepared glass.
  6. Garnish with lemon peel.

Festive Prohibition Era Drinks

With movies like The Great Gatsby and television shows like Boardwalk Empire, Prohibition-era drinks and entertainment have been enjoying a renaissance. Serve these fun drinks at viewing parties, at Prohibition parties, or when hosting a 1920s murder mystery party. These fun cocktails will add an air of authenticity to your event.

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1920s Drink Recipes That'll Make You Feel Bold