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30 Pre-Prohibition Cocktails Worth Sipping

Discover 30 Pre-Prohibition cocktails that taste surprisingly fresh despite their advanced ages.

Crafted Corpse Reviver No. 2 Cocktail
Image: ©2foodtrippers

The history of cocktails is long and winding, spanning centuries on both sides of the pond. There were times when drinking was all the rage and other times when the mere act of consuming alcohol could land a drinker in jail.

America’s Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933, was a particularly restrictive period. However, the preceding years were filled with so many classic libations that the era is fondly referred to as the golden age of cocktails.

Fast forward to the present and the most iconic Pre-Prohibition era cocktails haven’t lost any of their luster. Centenarian cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Negroni are more popular today than when they were at the time of their inception.

Negroni Birds Eye View
The Negroni is super popular more than a century after the cocktail was first crafted in Italy. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The aforementioned golden cocktail age shined brightly thanks to creativity and variety.

A compendium of drinks were crafted with liquors like bourbon, gin and rum in bars from Italy to New Orleans. Some Pre-Prohibition cocktails like the Bees Knees and Hanky Panky have fanciful names while others like the Aviation and Clover Club feature colors of the rainbow.

Campari Bar in Milan - Camparino
We thank the the mixologists who created our favorite cocktails at bars like Milan’s Camparino. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

You can learn about the best Pre-Prohibition era cocktails in books like Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide and Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual which were originally published in 1862 and 1882 respectively. However, the better approach involves crafting and drinking classic cocktails at home.

These are our favorite Pre-Prohibition cocktail recipes:

30 Of The Best Pre-Prohibition Cocktails

Sipping a Whiskey Sour
Whiskey Sour
The Whiskey Sour ranks as one of the most popular drinks in the world. It's a pleasure to drink and a breeze to craft at home. Follow our Whiskey Sour recipe and join the happy crowd of Whiskey Sour fans.
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Gin Sour Cocktail from Above
Gin Sour
The Gin Sour tickles the tongue with clean flavors that are simultaneously sweet and sour. The classic gin cocktail is also super easy to craft at home in just a few minutes.
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Old Fashioned with Ice Cube
Old Fashioned
A Bourbon Old Fashioned is one of the most classic of classic cocktails. Follow our easy recipe to craft an Old Fashioned at home in just five minutes.
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Bacardi Daiquiri on Ledge
Daiquiri
Leave any preconceptions about the Daiquiri behind when you follow our easy Bacardi Daiquiri recipe. Cuba's most classic cocktail is a sophisticated summer sipper made with just three ingredients that you probably already have at home.
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Bourbon Manhattan on Steps
Manhattan
Crafting a Bourbon Manhattan at home is both easy and rewarding. Follow our recipe and craft the classic cocktail at home in just five minutes. You'll feel like you're at your favorite bar at 1am but without the drama.
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Boulevardier with Peeled Orange
Boulevardier
A Boulevardier cocktail is a Negroni crafted with bourbon instead of gin. Follow our easy recipe and craft a Boulevardier at home in just five minutes.
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Gin Gimlet on Green Marble
Gimlet
The Gimlet cocktail is one of the easiest classic cocktails to craft at home. It's also one of the classiest.
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Negroni on Lisbon Street Close Up
Negroni
Follow our classic Negroni recipe and learn how to make the sophisticated Italian sipper with just five ingredients including ice. Unique for its deep red color and acerbic flavor, a Campari Negroni packs a punch with equal parts of bitter Campari, dry gin and sweet vermouth.
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Bees Knees Cocktail with Ingredients on Window Sill
Bee’s Knees
The Bee's Knees is the cat's meow when it comes to classic cocktails. The three-ingredient gin lemon cocktail is both sophisticated to sip and super easy to make at home.
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Clover Club Cocktail on Ledge
Clover Club
This Clover Club cocktail is simultaneously sweet and tart. Learn how to make this frothy pre-prohibition cocktail at home in just five minutes.
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Sazerac Cocktail
Sazerac
The Sazerac may be one of the oldest cocktails in America but the classic New Orleans drink is as relevant today as ever. Follow our Sazerac cocktail recipe and craft the sophisticated sipper at home.
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Aviation Cocktail Next to White Tiles
Aviation
Don't be confused by its deep blue color. The Aviation cocktail is a serious cocktail for serious drinkers. Read on to learn how to craft the classic gin cocktail at home in just five minutes.
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Brooklyn Cocktail from Above with White Background
Brooklyn
Brooklyn isn't just the most populated borough in New York City. It's also a pre-prohibition cocktail that sips like a dream. When you follow our easy Brooklyn cocktail recipe, you'll forget about the other four boroughs before you get to the bottom of the glass.
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Tom Collins Cocktail from Above
Tom Collins
Simultaneously sweet and tart, the Tom Collins cocktail is a delightful drink that tastes like spiked lemonade. It’s also super simple to craft at home with just a few ingredients.
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Bijou Cocktail in Coupe Glass
Bijou
The Bijou cocktail is a bold and boozy jewel that we covet all year long but especially during the holidays. The opposite of a lightweight, this sparkly amber cocktail adds a festive flair to any drinking session.
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Bronx Cocktail with White Background
Bronx
Move over Manhattan! The Bronx isn't just one of New York City's most culturally diverse boroughs. It's also a drink that blends gin with orange juice and two different vermouths. The result is a classic gin cocktail that's as easy to sip as it is to craft.
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Grasshopper Cocktail with White Background
Grasshopper
More than just a novelty drink imbibed at Christmas parties and on St. Patrick's Day, the Grasshopper cocktail is a sweet pre-prohibition classic with a history rooted in New Orleans. And, yes, it's green. Very green.
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Corpse Reviver No. 2 Cocktail with White Background
Corpse Reviver No. 2
The Corpse Reviver No. 2 tastes like a dream despite its nightmare-inducing name. Learn the history behind this ghoulishly delightful gin cocktail and then craft one at home in just five minutes.
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Bourbon Milk Punch with Pink Background.jpg
Milk Punch
Bourbon Milk Punch is a decadent New Orleans cocktail that's ideal to serve with brunch or any time when you want the good times to roll. Follow our easy Bourbon Milk Punch recipe and craft the creamy dreamy cocktail in just five minutes.
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Absinthe Frappe with White Background
Absinthe Frappe
The Absinthe Frappe, a classic New Orleans cocktail, is timeless. However, the boozy, green, anise-flavored beverage requires a special palate. Follow our easy Absinthe Frappe recipe and see if you're up to the taste challenge.
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Martinez Cocktail Next to White Tiles
Martinez
You probably aren't familiar with the Martinez unless you're either a cocktail connoisseur or a history buff. But once you try this classic gin drink, you'll surely be a fan. Read on for the full story and then follow our easy Martinez cocktail recipe and craft one at home in just five minutes.
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White Lady Banner
White Lady
Proving that you shouldn't judge a cocktail by its name, the White Lady Cocktail is a classic drink that's appropriate for multicultural cocktail connoisseurs. Learn how to craft a White Lady cocktail at home in just five minutes.
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New York Sour Cocktail with Black Background Centered
New York Sour
The New York Sour takes the classic Whiskey Sour to a new level by adding a red wine float. This ruby layer provides a fruity zing plus a stripe of elegance.
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Pisco Sour from Above
Pisco Sour
The Pisco Sour's flavors will transport you to South America. Follow our easy Pisco Sour recipe and craft the iconic cocktail at home in just a few minutes.
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Tipperary Cocktail with Black Background
Tipperary
It may be a 'long way to Tipperary but the journey to craft a Tipperary cocktail is short and sweet. If you follow our easy Tipperary cocktail recipe, you'll be sipping the potent classic cocktail in mere minutes.
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Brandy Alexander - Social IMg
Brandy Alexander
Rich and strong, our boozy Brandy Alexander ramps up the cognac to create a better beverage. Craft one at home in just five minutes if you can handle it.
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Ward 8 Cocktail from Above
Ward 8
The Ward 8 cocktail isn't as famous as its cousin, the Whiskey Sour, but it should be. Simultaneously sweet and spicy, this pre-prohibition potent potable is as easy to sip as it is to craft.
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Hanky Panky Cocktail with White Background
Hanky Panky
Just thinking about the Hanky Panky cocktail makes us smile beyond its giggle-inducing name. This classic cocktail takes the gin martini to exciting levels with two magical dashes of Fernet-Branca. And, like most classic cocktails, it's super easy to craft at home with just a few ingredients.
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Ramos Gin Fizz Cocktail Up Close with Straw and Pink Background
Ramos Gin Fizz
The Ramos Gin Fizz is a quintessential New Orleans cocktail. Learn how to craft the fizzy gin drink at home. Also discover why it's considered royalty in the Louisiana city where the good times roll all year long but especially during Mardi Gras.
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Last Word Cocktail with White Background
Last Word
Don't underestimate the Last Word cocktail. Despite its short ingredient list and pale green hue, the prohibition potable is a sophisticated sipper that deserves a seat at the table.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What are Pre-Prohibition cocktails?

Pre-Prohibition cocktails are cocktails that were invented prior to America’s Prohibition.

When was America’s Prohibition?

America’s Prohibition started in 1920 and ended in 1933.

What are the most iconic Pre-Prohibition cocktails?

Iconic Pre-Prohibition cocktails include the Daiquiri, Martini and Old Fashioned.

Video Recap

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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.

Disclosures

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Funding
We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft these cocktails.

Original Publication Date: April 3, 2023

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