Summer 2012 Host's Guide: Spirits of the Roaring Twenties

Never have Americans been more glamorous than during the years between 1919 and 1933, when their sobriety was ordered by the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Edwardian proprieties and regard for the law of the land were cast off by people from every walk of life; and, fueled by hooch in all its glorious forms—be it white lightning (bootleg liquor), brown plaid (Scotch whisky), bathtub gin, or Cuban rum—the 1920s roared behind the high walls of private estates from the Hamptons to the Hollywood Hills, and behind the discreetly nondescript doors of speakeasies. The cocktail culture that blossomed during that period changed the way Americans not only viewed the world, but also talked about it, as flappers, debs, and gangsters alike coined a litany of slang words and phrases (big cheese, crasher, crush, and gold-digger) still in use today. Happily, many of the drinks this carefree generation imbibed are enjoying a revival, thanks to the talents of modern mixologists and the efforts of distillers, many of whom have begun to produce spirits in styles popular during the speakeasy era. Following is our selection of spirits and cocktails of the Jazz Age, guaranteed to make your summer parties swing—and get your guests zozzled.

Ron Bacardí de Maestros de Ron Vintage MMXII Eight former Bacardí master blenders—all of them descendants of Bacardí founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó—contributed to this special-edition rum, which...
High West Silver Whiskey, Western Oat Though this clear spirit may look like moonshine, it is actually 80-proof unaged whiskey made from a mash of 85 percent oats and 15 percent malted barley...
Black Bull 40 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky This Highland whisky has been around since 1864, but it enjoyed renewed prominence following the repeal of Prohibition. The 40 Year Old, a less potent...
High West Son of Bourye In the 1932 Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers , a speakeasy employee named Baravelli (played by Chico Marx) receives a phone call from a patron ordering a quart of Scotch and...
The King’s Ginger Liqueur Berry Bros. & Rudd first formulated this bright, sweet, and naturally spicy liqueur in 1903 as a pick-me-up for King Edward VII. It must have worked, because that same...
It seems ridiculous to call them speakeasies or hidden bars when they are some of the most celebrated craft cocktail establishments in the United States. But 12 years after Sasha Petraske opened Milk...