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Liquor-based remedies may have been casualties of the rise of modern medicine, but cocktails found new life as something admired for their flavor, that could make its drinkers feel good without a health-related endgame in sight.

Countryman Press | Lost Recipes of Prohibition

Cinnamon, peppermint, cinnamon, and anise cordial recipes from Lyon's notebook. We can still see some evidence of medicinal booze, but only when we know where to look. Will be used in accordance with our user agreement and privacy policy.

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When Good Recipes Go Bad – The Old Fashioned Cocktail

Sign Up. Privacy and user agreement. Ad Choices. Wine was permitted for religious purposes, making hard cider for personal consumption was allowed, and it was perfectly legal to drink liquor that you owned before Prohibition took effect. Unsurprisingly, those that could hoarded liquor before the Volstead Act became law in and religious fervor swept the nation.

How Would-Be Alchemists Made Booze During Prohibition

But a great deal of booze was cooked up, concocted and doctored by people who saw an opportunity to make a buck. Rowley dives into the underground world of compounders who crafted diverse liquors from pure alcohol, essential oils, spices, tinctures, syrups, and other adulterants. From a motley list of ingredients that were more or less available, during prohibition compounders were able to make everything from rum to port to genever.


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Maybe they're going to save up for something. They knew what they were doing was illegal, but they didn't regard it as a good law. The Candle and the Flame. Rowley's journey began with a curious little book given to him by a friend, a collection of poetry titled by the German-American George Sylvester Viereck, who would later fall into disrepute due to his outspoken support for the German Kaiser.

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Inside the faded cover, however, there was no poetry—it was a bootlegger's manual, a secret collection of recipes and notes describing how to make liquors. Inquiring minds presumably wouldn't suspect something illicit in the book of poetry by a disgraced writer. And if you go too far down this path, what you're going to end up with is sour mix. But Rowley thinks that dismissing compounding out of hand is to overlook some real gems and forgotten techniques that are only beginning to be revived. As he experimented with the recipes within, adjusting and readjusting, he came across an excellent ginger brandy and a beautiful ice kummel, a German caraway liqueur filled with small crystals that gives a bottle a frosted look.

Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger's Manual

Getting the recipes right required some adjustments. After all, things just don't taste like they used to. For a cocktail that uses an egg white, a large grade A egg in might be the equivalent of two eggs from the early s. Recipes for imitation rye and absinthe, among others. My god, these people used to have just a voracious appetite for nutmeg. Sometimes you think,.


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  • Lost Recipes of Prohibition?

Well, not necessarily," Rowley said. So instead of using a few scrapings like we might, the recipes say, 'Put in two nutmegs.

Rock & Rye

And if nutmeg was unavailable, a compounder might just say, "Screw it. If importer one cut his rum with water to increase his profit, so did buyer number two, and so on down the line, with each purchaser touching up the spirit with essential oils—flavor bombs, more or less—to create something that would meet consumer tastes. Rarely, a bad batch could be fatal, or lead to permanent disability such as blindness.