Today Is Repeal Day — Here Are Nine Prohibition-Era Drinks To Celebrate With

Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas just around the corner. But before we get to caroling, gift-giving, and watching our favorite Yuletide classic films, there’s a holiday worth toasting: Repeal Day!

The brainchild of bar manager, bartender and author Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Repeal Day celebrates the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which ended the 18th Amendment’s thirteen-year reign of terror, during which it was illegal to manufacture, transport, or sell intoxicating liquors in the U.S.

Lasting from January 16, 1919, to December 5, 1933, Prohibition — largely backed by Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which still exists, as it turns out — was started to ostensibly cure the ills of society. Alcohol, it was thought, was the cause of poverty, crime, mental illness, and drunkenness, and while they kind of had a point on that last one (not everybody’s husbands were the paragons of drinking responsibly, apparently), it ended up that Prohibition didn’t exactly pan out as planned. Put bluntly, it backfired. In a big way.

For your perusing and carousing pleasure, here are just a few of Prohibition’s unintended consequences:

* The creation of speakeasies — secret, illegal bars so named for the need to “speak easy” when attempting to enter, so as not to give away the location. Many of these illicit bars were hidden within everyday, legal operations: cafes, delis, soda shops, even apartment homes and attics. A secret passage, password, or handshake would gain booze-enthusiasts entrance to an underground den of hot jazz and cold drinks, which quite frankly, sounds awesome. Small wonder that New York City alone was said to play host to more than 30,000 of the gin joints — way higher than the number of saloons pre-prohibition.

* The rise in criminal enterprise. With legal breweries and distilleries put out of business, bootleggers and mob bosses filled the American thirst for alcohol. That’s right, we have Prohibition to thank for the career of Al Capone.

* The fall of legal entertainment industries. Theaters and restaurants shut down in mass numbers, which the Prohibitionists hadn’t seen coming, but drinkers had, because they knew what we know: A good drink enhances a good performance, and makes a crappy one bearable.

* Not willing to go down without a fight, Anheuser-Busch learned to make ice cream. So, there’s also that.

Fortunately, America’s “noble experiment” is all whiskey under the bridge now, and we can thank Prohibition for a few other things this December 5, namely, Prohibition-inspired cocktails, modern speakeasies, and a renewed thankfulness for our right to imbibe.

Raise one of the glasses below and say cheers to Repeal Day!


Southern 75 at Proof and Provision, Atlanta, Georgia

Bartender Nate Shuman’s modern riff on the Prohibition Era’s French 75 (the recipe was first developed in 1915, but solidified in the 1920s), promises to deliver a kick every bit as powerful as the classic. Swapping in Sweetwater IPA for champagne, bourbon for gin, and demerara sugar for simple syrup, it’s a Southern twist that shouldn’t be missed.

30th Century Man at Oldfield’s Liquor Room, Los Angeles, California

Oldfield’s Liquor Room is no stranger to Prohibition cocktails and atmosphere — it takes its inspiration from the era and honors the techniques of the old masters while embracing a modern commitment to sustainability and seasonal ingredients. Here, they share the recipe for a new take on an old drink, the 20th Century Man:


  • 1.5 oz Germain Robin California Alambic Brandy
  • .75 oz Cocchi Americano
  • .5 oz Tempus Fugit creme de cacao
  • .5 oz lemon juice


Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with thin lemon twist.

Sazerac at The Iron Horse Hotel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Iron Horse Hotel hosts an annual Prohibition Party on the 5th at 6 p.m., boasting burlesque dancers, live music, and three specialty cocktails. Can’t make it to Milwaukee? This year, they’re bringing the party to you by sharing several classic cocktail recipes.



  • 2 oz Old Overholt rye
  • .25 oz simple syrup
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
  • Lemon peel for garnish
  • Absinthe rinse


Rinse rocks glass with absinthe. Stir rye, simple syrup, and bitters over ice, and strain into the rocks glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Last Word


  • .75 oz Rehorst gin
  • .75 oz lime
  • .75 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • .75 oz green chartreuse


Combine all of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe.


Side Car


  • 1.5 oz Korbel brandy
  • .75 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • .5 Triple Sec


Combine all of the ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe.

Have a Cigar at Siegel’s 1941, Las Vegas, Nevada

Siegel’s 1941, appropriately named after Bugsy Siegel, the American mobster who got his start as a Prohibition bootlegger, offers this smoky, sexy, decadent libation in honor of Repeal Day.

Ingredients for cocktail:

  • 1.5 oz Zaya 12-year rum
  • 1 oz Cafe Borghetti Espresso liqueur
  • 1 oz Monin vanilla syrup
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters

Ingredients for cream topping:

  • 1 half gallon of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 oz Monin vanilla syrup

(Makes enough to throw a fun party, store in closed container. Refrigerate.)


Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, shake vigorously and strain into preferred glass. Top with a layer of hand whipped cream and garnish with freshly grated espresso beans.

Old Fashion Four Ways at The Dignitary, Washington, D.C.

Offering more than 40 whiskeys in a setting reminiscent of the best Prohibition speakeasies — dark wood panelling, leather club chairs, red brick bar, tin tiled ceiling and a working fireplace — The Dignitary offers a classic cocktail with a twist. Have an Old Fashion in any one of four ways; there’s a version to please every palate.

370 Fashioned at Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, Laguna Beach, California

Sharing another delicious riff on the Old Fashion is Three Seventy Common Kitchen with the 370 Fashioned. Here, old meets new with the intriguing addition of orange marmalade.


  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange marmalade
  • splash of soda
  • orange peel for garnish


Shake whiskey, bitters, and marmalade in a shaker with ice. Strain over new ice. Top with a splash of soda and garnish with a flamed orange peel.

Bee’s Knees at Brick and Mortar Kitchen, Richmond, Texas

Bartender Lexey Johnson shares her version of the The Bee’s Knees, a cocktail that found its origin in Prohibition era bars, and its name in 1920s slang. One sip and you’ll agree that it’s an outstandingly good thing.


  • 2 oz Bombay Sapphire dry gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz honey simple syrup


Pour Bombay gin, lemon juice, and honey simple syrup into cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon swath and enjoy!