Gin and Jazz have a relationship stretching back a whole century. Well, gin is more well know. However, any spirit has it’s place in the time of prohibition. There are some that say jazz was indirectly fuelled by prohibition. When I first read the Great Gatsby, set in that amazing era, I was enamoured by the glitz and glamour of prohibition parties.
“The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.”
Some things are timeless. Prohibition has such a profound effect on our creation of cocktails. To celebrate I thought I share a few you could try at home. Just make sure you crank that jazz up before you get started.
The Mint Julip
The Mint Julip is a landmark cocktail. Born in the US in the 18th century, the cocktail itself is mentioned in Gatsby and is both simple and beautiful. Originally bourbon based, it adapts fantastically to gin or rum. Ideally, it’s made in a pewter cup, although a highball glass is suitable. All it takes is a teaspoon of sugar mixed with a splash of water. Add a handful of mint and give it a gentle squish and add your spirit. Simple and full of flavour.
The South Side
Although the history of this cocktail isn’t very clear, there is speculation that the drink may have been a favourite of Al Capone’s. The gin that his gang importer had a rougher finish to the smoother gin of his rivals, so it needed a little sweetening and the story goes, that’s how the South Side was born. This cocktail works with gin, vodka or white rum. Mix your spirit with lemon juice, 2 tsp or sugar and 4 mint leaves. Give it all a good shake and strain. You can garnish with mint, or lemon, or maybe add a twist to it with a little rosemary.
The Bees knees a beautiful cocktail and slightly more honey yellow colour than what I’ve shown here. The sweetness of the honey and the sharp citrus would have done a good job at masking any bad quality prohibition spirit, although I’m not certain that was the purpose. Easy to make. Pop a big dollop of honey and a splash of room temperature in a cocktail shaker, add gin lemon juice, ice and shake. That’s all it takes! Perfectly served in a French martini glass, it’s a fab little cocktail.
So, there we have it. 3 to get you started. I’d love to see some photos of your efforts. Feel free to get in touch with a photo or two and tell me about how it went. Bonus points for a group photo!