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This Saturday, December 5, marks the 82nd anniversary of Repeal Day, which brought an end to the 18th Amendment and 13 years of Prohibition in the United States. At Total Wine & More, we believe there’s no better way to celebrate such a momentous occasion than with cocktails that defined the era.

Like most drinks, the true origins of the French 75 are murky. Named after the French 75mm field gun of World War I, the cocktail first appeared in U.S. print in 1927 in “Here’s How,” one of the few mixology books to be published during Prohibition. While debate continues over when the cocktail first emerged, historians and mixologists largely agree that its modern form was first shaken up at the famed Harry’s New York Bar, which despite its name is actually in the Second Arrondissement of Paris. It achieved notoriety in the states after appearing at the Stork Club, one of New York’s legendary speakeasies.

Harry’s New York Bar opened in 1911 and has been attracting famous clientele ever since. Past patrons include Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Photo Credit: Time Out

A gin and champagne cocktail, the French 75 may have earned its name because its “kick” was akin to the recoil of an artillery gun. However, the recipe has been refined over time, so you don’t have to be a battle-hardened soldier to appreciate it.

Photo Credit: Liquor.com

French 75

Pour the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well, strain into a chilled flute glass and top with Champagne.

Like the French 75, the Bloody Mary was born and bred within the mahogany walls of Harry’s New York Bar, which remains one of the world’s most revered drinking establishments.  By 1920, Russians fleeing the Russian Revolution had started to settle in Paris and began sharing their love for vodka. Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, the bartender at Harry’s, began looking for ways to bring a little flavor to this flavorless spirit. He decided to experiment with canned tomato juice, which had recently made its way over from America. The resulting drink was first christened “Bucket of Blood” by American singer Roy Barton, in honor of an infamous gambling den and speakeasy in Chicago.

The evolution of “Bucket of Blood” into the mildly more appetizing “Bloody Mary” remains unclear, but Bloody Mary recipes began appearing in print by 1946. While the Bloody Mary may be one of the world’s most complex cocktails, it’s a drink that’s well worth the time and effort.

Photo Credit: Liquor.com

Bloody Mary

  • 2 oz. tomato juice
  • 1½ oz. vodka
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ tsp. freshly grated horseradish
  • 3 dashes hot sauce
  • Pinch salt
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. lemon juice
  • Celery stalk, for garnish

Combine tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, hot sauce, salt and pepper over ice in a highball glass. Then pour the drink into a second highball glass. Pour the drink back and forth between glasses several times to ensure the ingredients are properly mixed, and then lightly spray lemon juice over glass. Garnish with celery stick.

Get into the spirit of Repeal Day and stop by Total Wine & More or shop online to get everything you need to mix up some Prohibition-era favorites.