The Golden Age of Cocktails

The 1920’s are widely considered to be The Golden Age of Cocktails. Due to Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933 and made the sale of alcoholic beverages illegal, most available spirits were manufactured illicitly and amateurishly, and as a result were of questionable quality. Thus, many bartenders came up with the idea of mixing these fluids with more palatable liquids in an attempt to create a drink that is both potent and potable. These beverages were served at establishments called speakeasies, and were often given original and whimsical names like The Hanky Panky, Satan’s Whiskers, and The Monkey Gland.

One particularly fashionable speakeasy in Chicago’s woodworking district, The Workbench, was noted for inventing cocktails named for woodworking tools such as the still popular Screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) and Gimlet (vodka or gin with lime juice), and the somewhat less popular C Clamp (whiskey and clam juice), Fretsaw (gin and chicken stock), Spokeshave (rum and varnish), Bark Spud (turpentine and vodka, garnished with a potato peel), and Chisel (vodka and shellac).

This establishment is also the first place known to use a jigger – a now common bartending tool used to measure liquor which is equal to 1.5 fluid ounces (about 44 ml) – whose name came from the Sharpening Jig, or "jigger," since it was said to be roughly equivalent to the amount of blood lost by someone who gets his finger caught in a such a device.

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