Recipe: Pre-Prohibition Martini


Return of a Classic Cocktail

The venerable martini has been through so many permutations since its birth in the late 19th century. Indignities, too (dozens of candy-assed, vodka-based apple-choco-lemon-girly-tinis).

Before I became a Pretend Bartender, I liked vodka martinis, dirty, shaken, extra olives. Now, I prefer gin martinis, stirred, with a twist of lemon. My current favorite variation pre-dates prohibition, and includes a few dashes of orange bitters (because that’s the way they rolled pre-Capone).

Orange bitters used to be hard to come by (which probably contributed to why the pre-prohibition version fell out of favor). But now, thanks to heroes/cocktail enthusiasts like Gary “Gaz” Regan and Angostura, a couple of great alternatives can be found in your neighborhood liquor store and online.


1 1/2 oz. gin

1 1/2 oz. dry vermouth

2-3 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters

1 lemon peel


Fill a mixing glass and a coupe glass with ice. Cut a lemon peel*. Pour the gin and vermouth over the ice in the mixing glass. Add the bitters. Stir. Rub the lemon peel around the lip of the coupe glass then strain the drink mixture into it. Squeeze the lemon peel over the cocktail, and drop it into the glass.

*I suck at lemon peels. In the photos, you’ll notice that mine is unnaturally large. Hopefully, yours won’t be. Using a vegetable peeler helps, but I still need lots of practice, practice, practice. The most important thing is to minimize the pith. Otherwise, you’ll have a unpleasantly bitter, facial contortion-inducing cocktail.






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