In the world of cocktails the term vintage is closely related to the prohibition days. The story of the prohibition starts in late 1910’s when the economy in the USA was not doing well. As a result of this a large part of society resorted to drinking, so much so that in 1922 president Warren G. Harding introduced the prohibition law. This made all consumption of spirits and other booze illegal.
Where the intentions of the prohibition were noble there were also some unintended side effects. In particular the drinking and distilling went underground. This meant the alcohol related problems in society were not resolved, organized crime got involved in distilling and the economy was harmed further as the new brews were not taxed.
For the cocktail industry however the prohibition sparked a golden era. People started their own bars in backrooms, cellars and behind regular main street businesses. These bars were referred to as Speakeasy’s, because people were to speak easy about them to keep them under law enforcement’s radar.
The spirits which were distilled for these Speakeasy’s were generally off poor quality with a high alcohol percentage. Therefore people started to mix the spirits with soda’s, juices and fresh ingredients to compensate the poor quality of the spirit. These years led out to be a golden age of cocktails and many classic cocktails can be traced to the prohibition era.
Today we are in another golden age of cocktails, cocktails have not been this blooming since after the second world war. The current golden age has a big central trend: the mimicking of the Roaring 20’s and speakeasy’s. We can see this in the demand for old fashioned cocktails and Speakeasy bars popping up in all the big cities. To help strengthen the trend Libbey has reintroduced some of the iconic glassware from the prohibition days, adjusted designs to today’s demands and developed new glassware in the roaring 20’s style.
Until the 19th century bitters were mainly used as a medical cure-all, but have developed to being a luxury drink in the western culture. As a result, bitters became an essential part of cocktail making, but then were forgotten about or banned. Until the Pure Food and Drug Act from 1906 and at the time of prohibition from 1919 until1933, aromatic bitters used to be on the usual inventory list of every bar and restaurant in the US. But this political engagement destroyed the country’s bar andrestaurant culture and it wasn’t until recently that bitters started making their way back into barsand restaurants all over the world. Source: bitters.com
By the late 1800’s, the bartender’s shaker as we know it today had become a standard tool of the trade. In the 1920’s martinis were served from sterling silver shakers by high society while the less affluent made do with glass or nickel-plated drinking vessels. The mixed drink and cocktail shaker
were powered by the Prohibition, but the real increase in popularity of cocktail shakers occurred after the repeal of the Prohibition in 1933. From then on they were featured frequently on the silver screen, shakers were part of every movie set. Source: webtender.com.
William Wright invented the now-familiar Strainer adorned by the spring around the edge in 1892. The holes in Mr Wright’s strainer form a star in the middle with a double row of holes around the edge. Interestingly, in the patent application the strainer is depicted with the coil facing up, the opposite of how it’s generally used today. Wright’s 1892 patent, however, was assigned to Dennis P. “Denny” Sullivan of Boston. He ran a popular establishment called the Hawthorne Café, at 24 Avery St. in Boston US. Source: The LA Cocktail Community.