A Mary Pickford, sans cherry

A Mary Pickford, sans cherry

January 16 1920 was a dark day for America that had little to do with the winter blues. The teetotalers had their way and for nearly fourteen years the Volstead Act and the 18th Amendment ensured that the church had enough wine but that local bartenders were stripped of their licenses and livelihoods. It was still possible to possess alcohol for personal consumption but distribution meant jail time. Thus, the illegal speakeasies with their live music, smoky rooms and password intrigue were born.

HBO’s new blood-bath drama, “Boardwalk Empire,” and its portrayal of Prohibition-era Atlantic City overrun by the mob-run liquor racket has inspired a reawakening of the 1920s image. From fashion to alcohol (it must have something to do with all the rum-running), the television show has influenced the revolution of classics becoming new again.

What better to do with your cronies during the latest episode, while you all don your cloister hats and ragtime suits, than to mix up some Prohibition-style cocktails? Forget the single shots of cheap whiskey in dimly lit bars. These are the subtle drinks that defined a decade. Sip them slowly, that giggle water liable to burn your gullet on the way down.

French 75

This bathtub-gin cocktail did not go on to be the official drink of the generation like the Sidecar or the Gin Swizzle (where the term “swizzle sticks” comes from). It was named after the World War I monolith canon used to combat trench warfare. Be careful with that first bubbly sip, it could hit you in the face with all the grace of the American artillery.

Shake well with cracked ice:
1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin
1/2 oz Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
Strain into highball glass full of cracked ice and top off with chilled champagne.

Sidecar (Boston)

This Boston version of the original Sidecar, created by Sam “Suck it” Treadway, is a spinoff of the most popular drink of the Prohibition era. There are currently at least 14 different Sidecar recipes employing the use of various liquors but always with similar flavor profiles. Unlike the Treadway original, Boston’s drink deviates from the traditional Cognac and orange liqueur allowing for deeper flavors with a punchy burst of citrus.

Mix in a cocktail shaker with ice:
1 oz Light Rum
1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass

Mary Pickford

“America’s Sweetheart” and “the girl with the curls” were just two of the ways Mary Pickford was portrayed during the silent film era of the early 1900’s. Although this drink is sometimes misappropriated as a 1940’s creation, it’s actually from 1920 at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana. This homage is a fruity drink that mixes all the sweetness of pomegranate syrup and the subtlety of light rum.

Stir well with cracked ice:
1 1/2 oz White Rum
1 oz Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
1/2 teaspoon Grenadine
Strain into chilled cocktail glass and drop in a maraschino cherry.

Ward 8
This will put some hair on your chest. Although this cocktail originated in 1898, its popularity peaked during the Prohibition. Don’t be fooled by its milky exterior. Just because it looks like a fruit smoothie does not mean it is good for your digestion. If you’re blood isn’t built for whiskey you might want something a little more forgiving but, with all of the effort put into sweetening down the heavier oak and molasses notes this drink is usually friendly to beginners.


2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
Dash of Grenadine
Orange Slice for garnish
Maraschino Cherry for garnish

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Coffee Cocktail

Your mother probably told you not to eat raw eggs as a child—but she also said no dessert before dinner, pfft! Some of the more straightforward cocktails rely on pure alcohol content while this drink uses the flavors of each alcohol to play off of each other with the egg binder to produce a heady coffee-like drink. Although I wouldn’t usually recommend a spiked breakfast drink this one would go well with some waffles and whipped cream.

dash of Bitters (optional)
1 Whole Egg
1 tsp Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1 1/2 oz Port

Whisk egg with other ingredients and shake until frothy. Strain and serve. (Bartenders make sure to wash your shaker thoroughly after this one. The vegans of the world will not be pleased with egg in their drinks!

Blast does not endorse eating raw or undercooked food.

About The Author

Meaghan Ford is a Blast staff writer

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