During the Prohibition period, barkeeps naturally had very limited access to good booze, so they made cocktails using sweeteners and juices to cover up the bad taste of the rough drinks.
Some of the cocktails created have been long forgotten, but some have survived and been restored back into the spotlight over the years. Here are our five favourite Prohibition cocktails in no particular order, with a little bit of trivia that you can use to impress your friends.
The Mary Pickford
A shake-up of spiced in-house Demerara rum, fresh pineapple juice, Maraschino liqueur and pomegranate infused syrup, this fruity cocktail was named after the 1920s movie star who co-founded United Artists with her husband Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin. The Mary Pickford cocktail is said to have originated from Cuba where rum was much easier to find during the period.
The Hanky Panky
Made from gin and sweet vermouth with a hint of Fernet Branca, this delicious cocktail was created by mixology master Ada Coleman, a well-regarded bartender at London’s Hotel Savoy. Coleman, also known as “Coley” was the first female bartender at the hotel, and the Hanky Panky was her biggest claim to fame. The drink was created to quench the thirst of actor Sir Charles Hawtrey, who exclaimed on his first sip: “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!” and thus the name was set.
The Paper Plane
A combination of selected bourbon, Aperol herbal liqueur, and a dash of Brazilian lime juice and touch of Amaro Nonino for taste, this cocktail is said to have been created in the Ritz Hotel in London in the early ‘20s by an unknown barman who hid the recipe in a tea mug.
The Ramos Gin Fizz
This citrusy cocktail is packed with flavour from gin, lemon juice, lime juice, heavy cream, a dash of orange, flower water, citrus-infused egg white, and simple syrup finished with club soda. It was invented by Henry C. Ramos at his bar in New Orleans back in 1888. The drink became hugely popular and was favourite by barmen all across America.
The Last Word
This cocktail is made from London Dry gin, Maraschino liqueur, green Chartreuse, and lime juice. The pale green concoction is said to have been created in Detroit, where it was first served at the Detroit Athletic Club in the early 1920s. Its popularity faded after WWII but it was rediscovered by some Pacific Northwest bartenders in the mid-2000s.
All of these delicious cocktails can be found at Malta’s first ever Prohibition style bar; The Thirsty Barber. Pop down St Julian’s to try out these drinks and more that are put together by some of the best mixologists on the island, and enjoy a truly authentic 1920s atmosphere. Click here to check out our menu.