Alexey Kuzma

What Your Prohibition Cocktail Would Be, Based On What You Drink Now


It's been said a million times before: We always want what we can't have. It's true in dating, in adolescence when our parents say “no, don't get your belly button pierced or that ugly face tattoo” and especially in those college pre-21 years.

Although studies point to our generation as giving zero f*cks and living with a “do what I want” attitude, this rebellion streak is nothing new. Let's take a stroll back to the 1920s, where a funny little piece of paper passed in Congress, and was labeled the 18th Amendment -- aka, the Prohibition Act -- aka the worst idea ever.

So what happened? People flipped their lids, went underground and hid the booze faster than a Delta Sig house when the cops roll up. For 13 years, that wonderful combination of yeast and fermentation that tells you that you should make out with that geeky kid in bio-chem was technically, illegal.

Woodrow Wilson, el presidente at the time, knew this was a bad idea when he vetoed the bill, saying, “booze to the people!” (or something like that), but honestly, I'm glad he was overruled by Congress because it gave us the beautiful period in history called the Roaring 20s.

Tasseled flapper dresses, feather-adorned hairstyles, risqué dancing in cellars and all sorts of vices and immoral behavior. Sounds like my kind of party.

So besides "Great Gatsby" and your sorority's flapper-themed social, what did the 20s really give us? Cocktails. Your favorite manhattan or whiskey sour? Their roots date back to those glorious years where the original mixologists poured secretly distilled liquor in your great-grandfather's potato cellar.

Feeling nostalgic for a time some 70 years before you were born? I've got you covered, based on your go-to temptation, here's what you would have drank in the roaring 1920s.

If you like chocolate martinis, you'd have a tuxedo #2.

The two essentials to any martini, gin and vermouth, are invited to party with maraschino liqueur, bitters and a dash of absinthe. You know, absinthe: the green fairy you tried once in Prague and then woke up later in a hostel with a sprained ankle and a bed full of french fries (no, just me?).

Why is this better than your typical martini? Besides the hallucinating side effects of absinthe, it just has a much cooler name. Bow ties required.

If you're into mojitos, you'd have a south side.

Your weakness for white rum muddled with mint leaves means you would love the “Prohibition gem,” the south side. Rumored to be a go-to vice for a cuddly dude named Al Capone, the concoction of gin, lime, mint and simple syrup is your ticket to the past. South side, strong side.

A fan of mai tais? Go for the Mary Pickford.

America's sweetheart, a comedian and Robin Hood walk into a bar…

Sounds like a joke, but this is the real story of the Mary Pickford Prohibition era swill. Once upon a time in the late 1800s, a young Canadian-American actress named Mary took a trip to Havana, Cuba with Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, where a cute bartender flirted with the actress by fashioning a fruity pineapple-rum jewel that he named after Miss Sweetheart.

The drink became wildly popular, and resembles almost identically you current day poolside mai tai. All of the points to that guy. Granted.

Between the sheets is equivalent to a sidecar

This feisty little minx of a cocktail is for those who can handle a stiff drink after a long day. These drinking professionals have graduated from the watered down fruity drinks of their young adult years to find solace in a drink that satisfies their needs. This stuff is like liquid gold after mining a 12-hour day in the financial district.

The sidecar is the big-boy version of this, straight and to the point. It includes cognac, contreau and lime juice in a 3-2-1 ration. Shaken, not stirred, Mr. Bond.

Whiskey sour: whiskey sour.

Set your hot tub time machine to 1920 and the only difference you would see here is the texture of your beloved go-to drink. Your Prohibition era whiskey sour will have a frothy layer of egg whites on top to give it the consistency of a double chai extra whip latte. The key: Shake all ingredients including egg without ice.

As Matthew McConaughey would say, froth yourselves.

If you like whiskey gingers, you'd get a highball.

What hasn't changed from the 20s to today? This drink. Bourbon and ginger ale are like the little black dress that never goes out of style. The modern twist: Sub out the ginger ale for a hipster ginger beer that's been sweeping the nation. Because Moscow mules are too mainstream. Hee Nawww.

Anything with tequila or vodka, you're SOL.

Interestingly enough, vodka and tequila, two of the most popular liquors today, weren't around in the 1920s. The only form of vodka in the day and age was potato vodka, which tasted like a sh*tty home brewed version of liquor, and was not served in your typical speakeasy.

It was the Svedka of the 20s, and if you saw it in a bar, you'd run. Your favorite margarita drink actually didn't make it to the US until the 1970s, when your parents were too stoned to care. So if you set the Delorean to 1920, no tequila shots shots shots for you.

So if you're feeling fancy, hunt down a trap-door-hiding-in-a-phone-booth-speakeasy, or a classy rooftop bar and show off your historical knowledge. You may not be able to converse intelligently about Henry Ford or F. Scott Fitzgerald, but you can sure as hell drink like them.