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The Old Fashioned: A Jazz Age Cocktail

Jazz Guy

At the stroke of midnight, on January 16th, 1920, America went dry. The 18th Amendment, known as the Volstead Act, prohibited the manufacture, sale and possession of alcohol in America. Ironically, prohibition – which lasted from 1920 to 1933 – followed by the rise of speakeasies, gave jazz a big boost in its infancy.

From the end of the First World War until the start of the Depression in 1929, the "Jazz Age" was happening. This was a time when great musicians were making spectacular music. According to novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, during Prohibition, "The parties were bigger…the pace was faster…and the morals were looser." Prohibition, like jazz, broke down a lot of the old social barriers. In speakeasies, the wealthy, the poor, the men, the women and people of all colors rubbed shoulders. Their aim was simple: enjoy some illegal booze and good music.

So what’s a Prohibition cocktail I love? The Old Fashioned. It’s actually my favorite cocktail – first introduced to me by my sister who was appalled when I ordered a simple vodka/tonic. I asked my favorite, award-winning mixologist, Stefan Huebner, for his recipe. Stefan says, “The jazz guys were big Chartreuse and brandy drinkers. New Orleans led the cocktail scene as far as the jazz goes. Cocktails like French 75, Vieux Carre, Sazerac.”

As for my Old Fashioned, he suggests:

2 ounces rye whiskey
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angustoro bitters
1/4  of an orange peel
3 branded cherries

Add cherries orange peel, sugar and bitters muddle all ingredients add whiskey shake over ice and serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with cherries and orange.

The stock market crash of 1929 signaled the end of the party and, sadly, speakeasies can be hard to come by. But jazz and the Old Fashioned live on. Cheers!

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