Prohibition….while considered to be the “dark ages” of the cocktail world, there came the light to the path for which all thirsty travelers now walk. If not for Uncle Sam’s decision to outlaw all liquor except for that used in medical and industrial purposes, the Speakeasy might of never existed, at least in the fashion to which it did in those days. While cocktails were definitely becoming more refined
and experimental, it goes to show that no one wants more what they can’t have. Professional bartenders traveled far and wide to other countries to hone their talents, and keep their respective jobs. Americans traveled to places like Italy, Spain, London, etc. and were exposed to a plethora of new liqueurs, bitters, spirits and techniques. Perhaps Campari never would have birthed the Americano, named for the huge influx of Americans looking to quench their thirsts courtesy of our Italian brothers and sisters. Maybe the Sidecar would have never been replaced with tequila and lime, ergo the Margarita? Well maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it makes one think just where the cocktail would have evolved?
Whatever the case may be, today’s imbiber have never been more fascinated with, nor more nostalgic towards that cocktail era than ever before. Though, it is odd at the same time how today’s Speakeasy has almost nothing in common with those tied to prohibition. I think it’s the American psyche to think all things glamorous when it comes to the 20’s and 30’s, myself included. Truth is, those Speakeasies were usually a dive bar in the truest sense. Run down, shady, piss-poor hooch, with no flapper girls or swanky dapper gents to be found. Today’s cocktails have more in common with the “golden age” of cocktails, when all you needed was a quality spirit, a little sugar, bitters and a swatch of lemon. Even so, here is my homage to those forgotten days and a bow to the pioneers and bootleggers whom without, we may have never known the cocktail as we know today.
2 oz Jim Beam Black Bourbon
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
3 dashes Bittermans Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Combine in a shaker tin or large cocktail glass. Add large ice cubes and stir till thoroughly chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe or an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with an expressed lemon peel, rub around rim and drop into cocktail. Turn on some Jazz and enjoy.