3 Classic Cocktails of the Prohibition Era (Plus DIY Recipes)

//3 Classic Cocktails of the Prohibition Era (Plus DIY Recipes)
  • Men and women in classy dress, with styles from a 1940s, post-Prohibition-era speakeasy.

The Golden age of cocktails during the 1920’s-30’s was when drinks like the Martini and Daiquiri were created. It is also when liquor was illegal and of course, because the prohibition of alcohol was strictly enforced, cocktails had to be served at speakeasies.

Image of women in the prohibition era.

These underground bars were the birthplace of some of today’s most infamous adult beverages including the French 75 and the Sidecar.

Back when prohibition era cocktails were served at speakeasies, mixologists were creative and festive in drink making.

In fact, mixers back then came up with some of the most delicious and intoxicating adult beverages enjoyed by names like Elizabeth Short, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.

These are still asked for by name in many bars today. You can order them by name or you can make them at home with these DIY recipes for classic cocktails of the prohibition era.

Here are just 3 of the most iconic prohibition era cocktails:

The Bee’s Knees.


Image of famous prohibition cocktail, the Bee's Knees

Image credits to The Kitchen is My Playground.

Back during the prohibition era, people used the phrase this is the “bee’s knees,” as slang to describe something they liked. Calling something the bee’s knees meant that it was the best.

Today, you can get these classic cocktails of the prohibition era in a variety of flavors. They used to make it with bathtub gin back in the 1920’s but today you can use this recipe to sweeten the taste of this drink.

Bee’s Knees Cocktail Ingredients:

  •     2 oz Gin
  •     Juice from a  ½ fresh lemon
  •     Drizzle of real honey


Combine all of the ingredients together in a shaker along with ice. Shake and then strain the liquid into a chilled cocktail glass of your choice. Then, top the classic beverage with a lemon slice and enjoy this buzz-worthy drink!

Whiskey Smash.

Image of Whiskey Smash or Mint Julep a sweet cocktail originated in the southern United States. This cocktail is family of the "smash drinks" like the mojito and brandy smash. It is made with bourbon, sugar, mint leaves, water and ice;

Also commonly known as mint julep, this cocktail has a twist of citrus flavor all its own. The bright and flavorful drink is easy to fall for with its potent flavor profile.

Whiskey Smash Ingredients:

  •     4 oz seltzer water
  •     4 oz top-shelf whiskey
  •     1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1, sugar/water)
  •      Fresh mint sprigs and berries to garnish
  •     Cracked or crushed ice


Combine the sugar, seltzer water and mint in a mixing glass and stir. Then, add the ice and whiskey until fully combined. Strain the liquid into stemware of your choice and garnish with a freshly pinched mint sprig and a sliced lemon wheel. It’s smashingly good!

American Velvet.

Image of American Velvet cocktail made out of champagne and Guinness.

Image credits: TablespoonThis drink is simple yet elegant and oh-so-rich with a fizzy pop. Say “Cheers,” to a thick drink that somehow is also light and fun.

American Velvet Ingredients:

  •     Guinness
  •     Champagne


Using either a pint glass or a champagne flute, fill the glass up halfway with beer. Because it’s Guinness the beer will leave a thick, heavy foam on top of the glass. That’s the best part, so let the beer settle before adding the champagne to reduce overflow.

After about 3 minutes, pour the champagne into the glass and allow it to settle into the legendary rich Black Velvet texture this American classic cocktail is known for.  

You don’t have to be a mixologist to pull together these classic cocktails of the prohibition era.

In fact, you can blend these drinks together in just minutes any time you want to take a trip back into the early 1900’s when prohibition era cocktails also included the Tuxedo, Mamie Taylor, the Southside and Old Fashioned.

Each of these drinks is ideal for when your bartender falls short and you want to jazz things up at home with a DIY drink recipe.

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