3 Twists on Prohibition-Era Drinks to Keep You Warm All Winter

Three cocktails from Lost Recipes of Prohibition by Matthew Rowley.

Kara Rota
3-minute read

The Apple Nap

The Sam Ward is similar to a drink from William Schmidt 1891 manual The Flowing Bowl. “The Only” William’s recipes are a mixed bag; some work and some don’t. With Cognac, his Nap cocktail is nothing special. But it got me to thinking of an old dish: apples baked with caraway and sugar. Swapping out the generic brandy with Laird’s 100-proof apple brandy makes all the difference. A strong, spicy drink the color of camomile tea — and heads and shoulders above your dance club appletinis. Do give it a try.

.5 oz kümmel  

.5 oz green green Chartreuse 

.5 oz Laird’s 100-proof apple brandy 

Stir with ice until well chilled. Strain onto fresh ice and serve. A dash of rosewater or rose liqueur (such as Crispin’s Rose Liqueur from California distiller Cripin Caine) is an optional, but nice, touch.

The Collins 

The Collins — Tom, John, or even Juan Collins, depending on who’s doing the mixing — is an early 19th century precursor to the French 75 using soda water rather than Champagne. Perfectly traditional with London dry or the lightly sweetened Old Tom gins, it shines with genever.

2 oz genever

1 oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

soda water, q.s.

Shake the ingredients (except the soda water) with ice, strain into an ice-filled Collins glass, and top with soda water. Give it a brief stir, take a sip, and smile. 

Rock & Rye

Admittedly, winter sniffles and sneezes aren’t the pressing concern here in San Diego that they can be in other places. Still, we like our remedies against chilly nights and this is a good one. 

Before, during, and after Prohibition, enough temperance advocates made allowances for booze-heavy tonics and bitters that their prevalence in ostensibly dry houses became a running joke. While a slug of plain whiskey would almost surely have been met with tightly pursed lips, who could argue that rock candy sugar and fruit wouldn’t be wholesome additions? A touch of horehound — an herb that, as everyone knows, is such balm to a sore throat — was exactly what the doctor might’ve ordered to keep winter’s bane in check. 

A few years back, we planted blood orange and lemon trees in the garden. When I — cough, cough — feel a cold coming on, I’ll raid the trees for a few fruits to soak in rye whiskey with hard horehound candy for the perfect remedy.  

750 ml rye whiskey 

6-8 oz horehound candy (see note)

3 oz dried sour cherries

2 4” sticks of cinnamon

Zest of one orange (blood orange if you’ve got it)

Zest of one lemon

3 cloves

Mix ingredients in a 1-2 liter lidded glass jar. Macerate at room temperature, giving the jar a swirl now and then, for two to five days until the candy is fully dissolved and the cordial is fragrant with citrus and spice. Strain into clean 1-liter bottle. 

Note: A few confectioners, such as Hammond’s in Colorado, still make horehound candy. If you can’t find any, swap regular or yellow rock candy and add one teaspoon of dried horehound. If you can’t find horehound, you could add a star anise fruit or two, but don’t sweat it. 

Recipes reprinted from Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger's Manual. Copyright ©2015 by Matthew Rowley. Published by Countryman Press.


About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.