Booze Like a Bootlegger With These Prohibition-Era Cocktails

Prohibition, the latest documentary by Emmy-award winning Ken Burns that airs October 2 through 4 on PBS, focuses on how the law that tried to prevent drinking was based on an effort to "cling to the myth of an agrarian Jeffersonian America that never really was," Burns told sister publication LA Weekly

In addition to focusing on changing demographics of a younger America, the series features bathtub gin, speakeasies, and the Jake Walk, among other booze-related trends of the time.

Though I'm looking forward to learning some wonky history, talk of booze makes me thirsty, so I hit up Atlantic Monthly columnist, drink historian, and bartender Derek Brown for suggestions of Prohibition-era tipples. 

Interested in more drinks from the era and otherwise? Check out the bartender's bible Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Now, on to the list:

5. The Twelve Mile Limit
So named for the international boundary where boozers met bootleggers, this white rum, brandy, and rye cocktail is easy to make and packs a punch: a sharpness, apparently, that's  characteristic of many Prohibition-era drinks.

​4. The Scofflaw
Named for a person who flouts the law, this 1920s era cocktail is often made with syrupy grenadine, though author of Boozehound Jason Wilson suggests green Chartreuse for its herbal characteristics as the swap.

​3. El Presidente
This drink of rum, curacao, vermouth, and grenadine was created by an American at the Jockey Club in Cuba, the playground of rich Americans, notes Brown, as was the trend in the '20s, when bartenders hid their craft or fled abroad.

​2. Lion's Tail
Created in London during Prohibition, this cocktail that showcases bourbon and (delicious) pimento dram, an all-spice flavor that tastes of fall.

​1. Hanky Panky
Created at the Savoy in London, this cocktail, a variation of the sweet martini made with Fernet Branca, likely quenched the thirst of Americans heading overseas during Prohibition.

Any suggestions of local bartenders who would make these drinks? I haven't found any in my travels and would be grateful for a heads-up.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter. Follow me @melissamccart

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There are those who find a successful and tolerant society so unpleasant that they support government coercion and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens even though at great risk to their own personal safety and financial security.

They view pleasure as the devil’s snare and swear vengeance on all those who might embrace any of God's pleasures.

In a dangerous and futile attempt to stamp out alcohol, tobacco, heroin, marijuana, pornography, prostitution, marital infidelity and masturbation, this former land of the prosperous and free has been pillaged by groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Society, The Anti-Saloon League, The Anti-Cigarette Movement, The Social Purity Movement, The Social Hygiene Movement and our latter day Drug Warriors.

Laboring under no burden of doubt concerning their own rectitude and right to impose their standards on everybody else by the barrel of a gun, they have ceaselessly proclaimed their Christianity while blatantly overlooking Christ’s main admonitions, namely “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the first stone.”

Alcohol prohibition in the US run from 1919 to 1933 - Now google 'The Great Wall Street Crash' and see when that happened!

During alcohol prohibition, all profits went to enrich thugs and criminals. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on education etc. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?

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