Six Staple Speakeasy Cocktail Prohibition Era Drinks

Discover the staple cocktail drinks that were invented during the prohibition era. 

Speakeasy Drinks: 6 Of The Most Iconic Prohibition-Era Cocktails

The national Prohibition of alcohol in the United States lasted from 1920 to 1933. It was an effort or attempt to reduce crimes and other corruptive problems in society. The prohibition era may have banned the trade and transportation of alcohol, but in spite of this many people have invented different spirits and cocktails that are flowed freely in speakeasy bars and other less visible spaces.

While some cocktails were invented during the 1920s (also known as prohibition-era cocktails), many cocktails that existed before the era just became more popular. From rhum cocktails to gin cocktails, bartenders and other people brought their creativity and skills to the plate, transforming alcoholic beverages into something low-key but tasteful. Fast-forward to today, speakeasies, bars, restaurants, and other lounge areas continue to offer these fresh drinks, and they even come at cheaper prices during happy hours.

Here’s a compilation of the pre-prohibition cocktails list that you might want to try making:

1. Sidecar

Bartenders had a lot to look forward to during the Prohibition era. After all, this was when they practiced their talents and skills to hide alcohol, but at the same time, offer their customers something that would give them the perfect fix. The Sidecar is one of the most famous prohibition cocktails of the era. Discovered by famous bartender Harry McElhone, the ingredients of this drink were influenced by his trips to Europe and New Orleans.

This may not really be the manliest cocktail, but it sure comes with enough kick compared to martinis. To achieve this classic cocktail’s perfect flavor, you’ll need to acquire a dry sour taste. You just need some lemon juice, cognac, and some orange liqueur or Cointreau.

2. Mary Pickford

The Mary Pickford, is a prohibition-era cocktail that features rum as its main alcohol component. The name of this cocktail was named after the famous actress Mary Pickford, who went on a trip to Cuba with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin. It has a sweet taste, making it a great drink to enjoy in the tropics. The cocktail is made by mixing pineapple juice, light rum, and grenadine.  

3. Old-Fashioned

A pre-prohibition favorite, Old-fashioned cocktails have existed as long as cocktails have existed. Among the speakeasy cocktails, you’ll always find the Old-fashioned among the menu of diverse bars here and there, and many people kept drinking it going into the prohibition period and beyond. 

Today, the Old-fashioned comes with so many versions, so you can expect their tastes and flavors to differ significantly, depending on the which bar you went to. You can create your own version of this drink by combining some club soda, Angostura bitters, and bourbon whiskey. 

4. Gin Rickey

Gin rickey continues to be a cool, refreshing mixed drink as they were back in the 1920s. This classic cocktail came with an interesting history and was created by Joe Rickey, who was a Democratic lobbyist. They’re a staple cocktail drink that you can order at any time of day.

As the name implies, a gin rickey’s primary alcohol content is gin, but it is masked by club soda and lime juice flavors.  If you want to experience great obscure prohibition cocktails but want to taste something delicious, go for gin rickey.

5. French 75

The French 75 was created when champagne was available during Prohibition. If you’ve ever wondered how the name came up, it’s actually named after type of field gun used during World War I. You need to prepare some gin, fresh lemon juice, champagne, and some simple syrup to make this cocktail. The experts recommend that you try out similar drinks, such as French 76 or Mardi Gras Smash, if you want something more scaled up than the French 75. 

6. White Lady

The White Lady is another prohibition-era drink. This drink is often compared with the Sidecar, but their main difference is the main alcohol component: while the Sidecar uses cognac, you need gin for the White Lady. This is a ghostly, short cocktail drink designed for those who are not a fan of sour-tasting drinks.

The combination of lemon, triple sec, and gin make for a citrusy blast, but this mix can also be combined with Cointreau. You can add egg white if you wish, although some people prefer using sugar or cream de Menthe as an alternative ingredient.


Many famous cocktails people drink today are just as trendy and flavorful as they were a century ago. Hence, these 1920s cocktails remain a staple in today’s bars, successfully standing the test of time and prohibition.