Drink Up, Prohibition-Style

Drink Up, Prohibition-Style
By Maggie Cramer

Curious about what you’ll drink at ELIXIR, Asheville Wine & Food Festival’s Prohibition experience on August 21? Prohibition-inspired cocktails, of course—with creative spins by local master mixologists! Here are some tasty possibilities they might use as muses:


According to David Wondrich, a cocktail historian, the only drink actually dreamed up in the US during the Noble Experiment was the French 75, named after a piece of World War I artillery. It’s a mix of dry gin, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, and chilled champagne. The traditional preparation: Shake the first three ingredients over cracked ice, then strain and serve over cracked iced in a highball glass (a straight-sided tumbler) and top with the cold bubbly.


Speaking of, the Ginger Ale Highball was one of the most common orders of the era, likely due to its simplicity: All it requires is rye whiskey and ginger ale, plus the highball glass and ice for serving.


Many pre-Prohibition cocktails maintained popularity during the dry years—chiefly those that improved or hid the taste of rough hooch and bathtub gin. The already-loved Whiskey Old Fashioned masked harsh rye perfectly thanks to its call for sweet and bittersweet accompaniments. The classic is made by muddling a sugar cube with water and bitters in the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass (a tumbler shorter than a highball, with a wide brim) and then adding whiskey; straight rye or bourbon were most common at the time. The drink is served over ice with a good-size slice of lemon peel.

The pre-1920 Ward Eight recipe was jam-packed with juice, which made it popular for the same reason as the Old Fashioned. A blend of lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine made potent whiskey palatable. With the Bee’s Knees, bolstering bad gin was the goal, which was achieved, like the Ward 8, with juice, as well as honey.


While I can’t say for sure which classic drinks will spark the mixologists’ imagination come the 21st, you’re sure to taste many, if not all, of these time-tested ingredients. Cheers!


CLICK HERE to buy tickets to ELIXIR and get full event details, including a list of participating distilleries and the lowdown on sponsor LaZoom’s special after-drinks tour.

-Maggie Cramer is an Asheville-based writer, editor, and communications specialist. She can be reached at mcramerwrites@gmail.com