Entertaining
10 Best Prohibition-Era Cocktails

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With the passing of the 18th Amendment in 1920, the Temperance movement attempted to dry up America. But the brave men and women of the drinking community simply wouldn’t have it. They went right on drinking their Manhattans and Martinis, but like drinkers of any era, they also demanded something new.

Stateside bartenders continued to create delicious, innovative cocktails throughout Prohibition, while their European counterparts whipped up intriguing tipples for boozy vacationers and expats. Some of those nefarious inventions live on today. Here, the best drinks born in the Prohibition era.

The French 75 emerged as a popular cocktail shortly after WWI. Named for French armaments, the drink’s origins are murkier than the fog of war, but some cocktail historians suggest that it is the only true American classic to emerge during Prohibition. Whether it was born of Prohibition or not, it is certainly an appropriately celebratory tipple to toast the repeal of dry laws.

The Essentials

Gin
lemon juice
Champagne
The Bee’s Knees is a direct product of dry laws. Bootleggers crafting DIY hooch on the sly needed something sweet to mask the horrible quality of their bathtub gin, so they added a heaping portion of honey. The mixture proved so successful, it stuck around after Prohibition was repealed.

The Essentials

Gin
Honey Syrup
Fresh Lemon Juice
Thirsty and disillusioned by the Great War, the Lost Generation of American writers relocated to more cocktail-friendly lands when Prohibition hit. One of the expat set’s favorite drinks was the Jack Rose, which Hemingway mentions in The Sun Also Rises. While the great American authors of the 1920s thought little of their home country at the time, the Jack Rose honors American heritage with the original nationalist spirit, applejack.

The Essentials

Applejack
Grenadine
Lime Juice
The Last Word was invented during the Great Experiment—and it was a hit. But by the ‘50s it was nearly extinct. How such an easy, sweet, herbal cocktail could be forgotten, we don’t know, but we’re glad it was recovered from the annals and returned to our coupes.

The Essentials

Gin
Green Chartreuse
Maraschino liqueur
The Milano-Torino wasn’t invented during Prohibition, but rather in 1860 in Milan, Italy. It did, however, become the Americano when tipplers from the states fled for Europe and discovered the magic of Campari

The Essentials

Campari
Sweet Vermouth
Club Soda
Prohibition has obscured the exact details of the Grasshopper’s birth, but we do know the cocktail came out of New Orleans sometime in the early ‘20s. The drink is named for its light green hue, made by the combination of white crème de cacao and green crème de menthe, but it’s the cream that takes this dessert cocktail into decadent territory, making it an instant hit with sweet-toothed flappers.

The Essentials

white crème de cacao
green crème de menthe
heavy cream
Hardened by his time spent bull-riding in America, Count Camillo Negroni returned to his native Italy in 1919 and demanded a drink strong enough for his rough and tumble tastes. The resulting creation of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth not only pleased the count, but drinkers the world over.

The Essentials

Gin
Campari
Sweet Vermouth
The Sidecar may have been invented in London, or it may have come from Paris. What we do know for sure is that the combo of Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice is a revision of the 19th-century Brandy Crusta. While the Crusta mostly perished, the Sidecar lives on today in the hearts and mouths of brandy lovers.

The Essentials

Cognac
Cointreau
Lemon Juice
Though it was invented in Long Island, New York, this minty gin tipple was named for the South Side of Chicago, home to a few bootlegging gangsters of note. It was invented in 1913, giving Americans just seven short years to swig as many coupe-fuls as possible, before the lawman put an end to their fun. Prohibition was nearly a death knell for the cocktail, but it was thankfully revived in the early 2000s at Milk & Honey in—again—New York.

The Essentials

mint
gin
lime juice
Another cocktail of contested origin, the White Lady was invented at one of several London bars in the 1920s. Setting aside its exact origin, the sour cocktail of gin, Cointreau and lemon is well frothed by egg whites, making for a pleasingly light and sour sip of obscure history.

The Essentials

Gin
Fresh Lemon Juice
Egg White

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