Prohibition, the law that banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol in the United States, may have banned liquor, but it didn’t ban innovation. In line with the true American spirit, prohibition’s strict regulations actually paved the way for a lot of what we consider today to be classic, beloved cocktails.
Because there was little leeway in what kinds (and what quality) of booze commercial retailers could get their hands on, people pretty much had to drink whatever they could get be it, smuggled, questionably sourced, or homemade in someone’s bathtub (it was cheap, barely drinkable and rather questionable, giving rise to the term ‘bathtub gin’). So, bartenders nationwide had to find a way to make these otherwise unpalatable spirits into something totally new, and this is where you see the introduction of more fruit elements and more inspired sweeteners.
In many ways, we can thank the 18th Amendment for bringing some of our favorite cocktails into existence! We’ve got the skinny on some classic Prohibition-era cocktails, and some fresh takes on old classics to harken the Roaring Twenties at home, and hey—we think they’re the bee’s knees.
The Monkey Gland
First up is a fun classic: The Monkey Gland. With a bit of a sordid history and an intoxicating, fruity taste this can quickly become your go-to cocktail. Where does that name come from? Well, we’ll let you google it but it’s based on some wacky experiments from Franco-Russian surgeon, Serge Voronoff, during the 1920s and 1930s.
- Rinse a chilled cocktail coupe with the absinthe. Dump the excess and set aside.
- Combine gin, orange juice and grenadine in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well for 30 seconds, then strain into the prepared glass.
- Garnish with an orange slice (or burnt orange peel, if you're nasty).
The Greene Grape Gin Rickey
Not only was gin a favorite for the 20’s. Today, there are so many artisanal, well-crafted options out there, which means that anyone can easily elevate simple classics to make new and inspired drinks. The Gin Rickey is for those who aren’t into all that saccharine jazz. The classic recipe doesn’t call for any vermouth but Lo-Fi has crafted a modern zesty, bright, sweet vermouth that adds great depth to this breezy sipper.
- Fill a Collins glass with ice.
- Add the gin, lime, and sweet vermouth, then stir for 15 seconds, or until the outside of the glass becomes frosted.
- Top off with club soda, garnish with a lime wedge.
The Jack Rose
Our next cocktail is a personal favorite with truly "storied" roots, the Jack Rose. In Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," protagonist Jake Barnes sips them constantly. John Steinbeck was also a fan. That's good enough for us! In our version, the addition of spiced pear liqueur accentuates the flavor and spice of the applejack and balances the bright sweetness of the grenadine.
- Combine all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well for 30 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass, then garnish with a lemon twist.