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Drinks that define the decades: Part 1

By Amber Rolt on 15/05/14 11:34 AM

In the first of a two part series, we look at the drinks that best define the decades, starting in the 1920s prohibition.


1920s – Gin Rickey

gin rickey

Gin was the predominant drink in the 1920s prohibition, as it was the easiest to brew in vast volumes. ‘bathtub’ gin was made in secret, often fermented and in a bathtub.

It appears in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as a favourite tipple on a hot summers day, served up as a Gin Rickey, a gently fizzing, summery concoction of gin, lime and soda. Daisy Fay orders her husband Tom to “make us a cold drink”, he returns with “four gin rickeys that clicked full of ice. Gatsby took up his drink. ‘They certainly look cool,’ he said with visible tension. We drank in long, greedy swallows”.


1930s – Pink Lady

pink lady didrick

Another gin-based cocktail that became popular towards the end of the prohibition was a Pink Lady, mixed with grenadine for its signature colour. The popular bathtub gin was often poor quality, but when mixed with extra flavours and a boost of colour, even the ladies would happily sip on these.


1940s – Irish Coffee

irish coffee

One winter evening in the 1940s, a Pan Am flight attendant served coffee with added whiskey to warm miserable passengers. They asked if the exotic creation was Brazilian, but were told that it was ‘Irish Coffee’.


1950s – the Grasshopper


The Grasshopper is a classic cocktail, best known for its refreshing minty flavour and green hue. Originating in New Orleans in the 1950s, the Grasshopper has stood the test of time to become part of the pantheon of iconic cocktails, and was often served frozen as an after dinner drink.


1960s – Gin and tonic


Production of London dry-style Gin began in the 1930s, but did not surge in popularity as a drink in its own right until the sixties. Gin developed into its most popular style in England, but its most enthusiastic consumers are the Spanish, who enjoy a cold gin and tonic with lime and have earned themselves the highest per capita consumption in the world.



Image credits: creative commons