Though the U.S. spent the 1920s suffering through Prohibition, the decade was hardly a dark era for alcohol. Between the clandestine cocktails created stateside and the drinks invented across the pond, the flapper-fueled decade was well lubricated, to say the least. Whether you’re hosting a theme party or just want to drink like Gatsby, these cocktails will transport you to the Roaring Twenties. Here, the best cocktails that came out of the 1920s. We promise they're the cat's pajamas.
9 Best Cocktails Invented in the 1920s
During Prohibition, people covered up the harsh flavors of bathtub gin with fresh lemon and honey in an effort to make it more palatable. The mix of honey syrup, gin and lemon turned out to be a lasting mix—made even better with a quality gin. Top it with a float of dry Champagne for some extra razzle dazzle.
Fresh Lemon Juice
The Negroni was invented at the tail end of the 1910s, but this whiskey-based variation first appeared in 1927 at The New York Bar in Paris. By switching out gin for American whiskey, bartender Harry McElhone created a more rounded drink with a subtle bite on the finish. While not as popular today as the original Negroni, the Boulevardier is a great alternative, with an even fancier name.
You could say that the Hanky Panky is also a variation on the Negroni, but that would be understating just how much Fernet Branca’s dry, bitter flavor reinvents the drink. Created in 1925 at the Savoy Hotel in London, the Hanky Panky mixes the black-as-tar, herbal liqueur with gin and sweet vermouth, for a surprisingly well-balanced cocktail that may ease you into liking divisive Fernet.
This creamy classic dessert cocktail was invented at Tujague’s Restaurant in New Orleans in the early 1920s. Crème de menthe lends the drink its signature green hue, and combines with heavy cream and crème de cacao to create a liquid after-dinner mint.
white crème de cacao
green crème de menthe
A nod to all of the American drinkers who survived Prohibition, the Scofflaw was invented in 1924 at Harry’s Bar in Paris. It’s a somewhat unlikely cross between a Daiquiri and a Manhattan, in which rye whiskey, dry vermouth, lime juice and grenadine come together in a cocktail that’s at once both citrusy and strong.
While this cocktail was popularized and given its current name in the 1950s, the Royal Hawaiian first debuted in the 1920s under the name Princess Kaiulani. It’s one of the best tiki classics that doesn’t use rum. Instead, gin acts as the base for this cocktail of orgeat, fresh pineapple juice and lemon juice. It’s a simple, light tropical tipple that’s pleasantly drier than many tiki classics.
During the 1920s, many affluent Americans escaped the national dry spell by traveling south to Cuba, where they were free to drink as much rum as the island could provide. It’s believed that the El Presidente cocktail—a stirred mix of white rum, dry vermouth, orange curaçao and a dash of grenadine—was invented by an American bartender at Havana’s Jockey Club, where tourists and locals alike went mad for it.
The original gin-based Alexander cocktail was created in the early 1900s, but brandy was introduced to the mix in 1922, when it was served at the London wedding of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles. Sweet Cognac, dark crème de cacao, heavy cream and freshly grated nutmeg make for the perfect after-dinner sipper.
dark crème de cacao
We have the 1920s to thank for today’s bottomless brunches. The simple mixture of Champagne and orange juice was invented at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in 1925. Well, technically, the mix of the two was already called a Buck’s Fizz, but bartender Frank Meier tweaked the ratios to equal parts, forever revolutionizing our Sunday afternoons.