5 Prohibition Era cocktails to celebrate Repeal Day


By: Danielle Waldron

Reese Lloyd/Rlickr

On Dec. 4, 1933, you couldn’t just walk into restaurant and (legally) have a drink. As of Dec. 5, 1933, that came to a screeching halt when the 18th Amendment was repealed, thus lifting the ban on alcohol sale and distribution.

How fitting is it, then, that the 21st Amendment would put a stop to what TIME magazine called “the least popular amendment in U.S. History.” 81 years later, celebrate the anniversary of the 21st amendment with a celebratory #FlashbackFriday.

The Monkey Gland
Recipe from Saveur. Makes 1 cocktail.

This 1920s cocktail calls for absinthe, which you just aren’t going to find in the United States, regardless of prohibition coming to an end. A simple swap is all you need for this prohibition era drink, which Saveur says was created by the owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.


  • 3 oz. gin
  • 1½ oz. orange juice
  • ¼ oz. grenadine
  • 1 dash Benedictine (in place of the absinthe)
  • Orange peel to garnish


  1. Combine gin, juice, grenadine and Benedictine in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Blackberry Bramble
Recipe from Julie Ann Art. Makes 1 cocktail.

Fresh berries make this summery drink shine…flapper dress not included.


  • 1 shot gin
  • 1 lime
  • Handful of fresh blackberries
  • 1½ oz. simple syrup
  • 4-6 oz. club soda
  • Crushed ice


  1. Crush the blackberries and add to a serving glass. Add the ice, juice from the lime, syrup and gin. Top off with as much or little as club soda as you wish.

Sparking Bee’s Knees
Recipe from Cosmopolitan. Makes 1 cocktail.

The Bee’s Knees was one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s drinks of choice, PBS says. A splash of champagne adds a bit more whimsy to this classic drink, which is pretty similar to another popular drink of the time, the French 75.


  • 1¼ oz. dry gin
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. honey
  • Champagne


  1. Combine gin, honey and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and pour into a coupe or flute glass. Add a splash of champagne and garnish with a twist of lemon.

Gin Rickey
Recipe from Party Bluprints. Makes 1 cocktail.

Really, this is an older sibling to the classic gin and tonic.


  • 1¼ oz. dry gin
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 5 parts soda water


  1. Pour all ingredients into a highball glass and stir well. Garnish with a lime wedge.

You’ll notice that gin is a common ingredient in most of these drinks. That’s because prohibition gave rise to bathtub gin, according to PBS. During prohibition, bootleggers — and anyone who invested in the business — brewed gin in secret and made a pretty penny from its sale.

It was even a favorite, PBS says, of the literary great F. Scott Fitzgerald — though the gin you might be drinking today is probably higher quality (and legal). Cheers!

If gin just isn’t your drink of choice, the Sidecar is an era-appropriate option using brandy.

Recipe from The Guardian. Makes 1 cocktail.

History has it that Harry McElhone created this drink for a zany military man who would come to his Paris bar in the sidecar of a chauffered motorcycle, according to The Guardian.


  • 1½ oz. gin
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. Cointreau
  • Granulated sugar


  1. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously over ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass with a sugared edge.

Find more Prohibition-era drink inspiration on Pinterest.

If you’d rather head out to celebrate, Bar Louie at University Park Mall in Mishawaka is offering an anniversary special on three drinks — Sidecars, Irish Old Fashioned and French 75 for $6 each. Costumes are encouraged.

Follow digital producer Danielle Waldron on Twitter at @DanielleWaldron

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