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RECIPES: 1920s Cocktails, Part 1

The Gin Rickey. Photo courtesy Tanqueray


The latest version of “The Great Gatsby” opens in cinemas today, begging the question, what did Gatsby serve at those wild parties?

We know from the novel that Gatsby was a bootlegger. In the summer of 1922, when novel is set, Prohibition was two and a half years old. (Read this delightful article on Jay Gatsby by Kevin Roose, who explores how Gatsby made his money and whether author F. Scott Fitzgerald may have attributed more wealth to him than he could actually have had.)

Aside from the Gin Rickey, the novel doesn’t mention what else people were drinking at those weekend-long extravaganzas. But given the popular cocktails of the Prohibition Era, Tthe Martini and the French 75 most certainly would have been on the menu.

So get your cocktail shaker ready and mix up your own Jazz Age cocktail menu for Mother’s Day. This is Part 1; Part 2 presents two more 1920s cocktails, the South Side and the White Lady.

These recipes are courtesy of Tanqueray Gin. Despite an abundance of bootleg liquor and “bathtub gin,” it’s rumored that the social set continued to enjoy top shelf imported gins like Tanqueray, delivered via cases that were unloaded offshore and floated to islands just off the U.S. coastline.


Why did the Gin Rickey alone get mentioned in “The Great Gatsby?” It is said to have been the preferred pour of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s a wonderful warm weather drink.

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.25 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 5 ounces soda water
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedge

    1. Build in a highball glass with ice. Stir and top with soda water.

    2. Garnish with a lime wedge.



    Made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar, the French 75 was created in 1915 by Harry MacElhone at the New York Bar in Paris (later called Harry’s New York Bar). It was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun, also called a 75 Cocktail or a Soixante Quinze. The French 75 was popularized in America at New York City‘s famed Stork Club.

  • 1.25 ounces gin
  • .5 ounce simple
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Garnish: lemon peel

    1. Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.

    2. Strain into a rocks glass and top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel curl.


    The French 75, a sparkler. Photo courtesy Tanqueray Gin.




    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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