How to Drink Like a Mobster: Prohibition-Style Cocktails

How to Drink Like a Mobster: Prohibition-Style Cocktails

by Albert W. A. Schmid


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From John Dillinger's Gin Fizz to Al Capone's Templeton Rye, mobsters loved their liquor—as well as the millions that bootlegging and speakeasies made them during the Prohibition. In a time when any giggle juice could land you in the hoosegow, mobsters had their own ways of making sure the gin mill never ran dry and the drinks kept flowing. And big screen blockbusters like The Godfather, GoodFellas, and Scarface and small screen hits like The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire ensure that our obsession with mobsters won't run dry, either.

Mixology expert Albert W. A. Schmid shows how you can recreate the allure of the gangster bar life with step-by-step instructions on how to set up the best Prohibition-style bar and pour the drinks to match. Recipes include mob favorites like the Machete, the Paralyzer, Greyhound (Salty Dog), Say Hello to My Little Friend, and Angel Face, as well as classics like the Gimlet, Kamikaze, and Bee's Knees. How to Drink Like a Mobster also includes profiles of the most notorious mobsters' connections to the booze business, along with tips to stay under the radar in any speakeasy: always have at least one or more aliases ready, pay with cash, don't draw attention to yourself, and in the case of a raid, drink the evidence as fast as you can!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781684350490
Publisher: Red Lightning Books
Publication date: 09/01/2018
Pages: 120
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Noah Rothbaum is Drink and Food Senior Editor at The Daily Beast and the author of The Art of American Whiskey and The Business of Spirits.

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Drink Like a Mobster!

There is a little gangster in all of us. And why not! Movies and television programs are filled with stories about the mafia or mobsters. These same shows have made the careers of actors such as Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, and Edie Falco, to name a few, while glorifying the mobster lifestyle. The stories that these actors played out on screen tended to always include some of the same elements: the sale of something illegal, the betrayal of someone close, the realization of personal ambitions, and/ or violence either to protect the sale or to avenge a betrayal or as a revenge for a lost family member. When it comes to Mafia movies, art imitates life, because much of what is portrayed on the screen is based on real-life events. Perhaps the allure is that mobsters live on the edge breaking national, state, county, and local laws while at the same time living by an extremely strict code of conduct that includes keeping your mouth shut.

Big-screen blockbusters such as The Godfather (1972), Goodfellas (1990), and Scarface (1983), as well as small-screen hits such as The Sopranos (1999–2007), Boardwalk Empire (2010–2014), and The Untouchables (1959–1963) prove that the American public has long enjoyed watching Mafia stories. Who can forget the great lines these shows have added to American popular culture?

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." — Henry Hill, Goodfellas

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." — Don Vito Corleone, The Godfather

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." — Clemenze, The Godfather

"Somebody messes with me, I'm gonna mess with him." — Al Capone, The Untouchables

"Made it, Ma! Top of the World!" — Cody Jarrett, White Heat

"You want to play rough? OK! Say hello to my little friend!" — Tony Montana, Scarface

This tough talk followed by action makes life in the Mafia even more appealing. Just think about being able to back up your words with action. The real-life unspeakable violence surrounding illegal liquor and cocktails is firmly rooted in a counterculture reacting to what was seen as intrusive government policy and religious fervor, namely, (1) taxing the production and sale of alcohol — the first tax on the American people by the US Congress — which really amounted to an income tax for the people producing alcohol, including many farmers, but not a tax on all people, and (2) the eventual banning of the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol, which resulted in the period in US history known as Prohibition (1920–1933). Both actions allowed organized crime to move in and fill the void — creating massive unaccountable economic activity based on the sale of illegal unregulated alcoholic beverages. Many of the mobsters ended up spending time in prison after being convicted of evading taxes on their ill-gotten gain. From the perspective of the mob, they were businessmen answering the demand of customers for a scarce product, one that could not be taxed because of alcohol's illicit nature at the time. To use a line from The Godfather, "It's not personal; it's strictly business." Of course we learn later, "All business is personal." That is why a mobster had to act to protect his turf or the reason that when mobsters opened speakeasies they were careful to post a set of rules that patrons should follow to remain in the speakeasy.


No credit; pay in advance Cash is always king, but in this case, cash is essential to make sure that the situation does not get messy as a result of trying to collect debts from deadbeats.

Mind the barkeep; his word is law Designating someone to be in charge is always a good business principle.

No sleeping at the tables and no talking politics or religion This rule is just good manners, but not everyone was brought up the same way; sometimes you need to spell it out for people. This rule also prevents a lot of fights and helps to keep order.

In case of raids, down your drink post haste Just get rid of the evidence!

Do not talk in a loud tone; speak easy Enjoy your drink and enjoy your company, but don't draw attention to yourself or the establishment by being too loud.

Secret knocks and passwords will be changed frequently This is a good customer loyalty program. The more frequently you visit, the more assured you are to have the knock and password changes.

Check all weapons with the doorman This is the best way to make sure that an unpleasant situation does not escalate into a stabbing or a shooting.

No limit on drinks if you can hold your liquor Drink what you want, but don't get crazy!

Any fighting will result in being permanently barred This is a good action/reaction result that is easy to understand.

All drunkards will be harshly dealt with by management If you get crazy, we will beat you down. Again, don't get crazy!

Do not leave the establishment with liquor; remember, this is a dry country The rule speaks for itself ... and allows everyone to have a little laugh regarding the ironic situation.

The rules were signed at the bottom of the document by the proprietor, who in many cases was a famous mobster — for example, Alphonse (or sometimes "Al") Capone, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson, or simply "Management."


Have at least one or more aliases The best way to avoid having someone pin something on you is to use an alias or two ... or three. If people must guess who you are, they are less likely to make anything stick.

Have a nickname Adding a nickname adds to your mystique. Thanks to movies and books, almost any nickname will add to your street cred. You might be a CPA (which is a good nickname); you can be "The Accountant" or "The Bookkeeper." If you teach, "The Teacher" or "The Professor." You can use your job, or you can use something about your features. Don't rule anything out.

Know your brands Mobsters know their brands. They know where they come from, and they know what is in the bottles. If you are trying to fence alcohol, you need to know it to sell it. You should also know it when ordering a drink.

Know your drinks You can start off small on this one and learn new ones all the time. An old-fashioned, a Manhattan, a martini, or a gin and tonic will get you started. Learn as many drinks as you can, and be prepared to match a drink to a situation.

Dress for success A real mobster should look good. Men should have a good suit that fits well. Ladies should have a nice dress that fits well. And you need a hat. Hats are a must! What better way to hide your face from the nosy press or the feds?

Call your drinks A real mobster calls the brand that he enjoys. Know what kind of whiskey you want in your Manhattan or what kind of vodka or gin you want in your martini. Mobsters are not afraid to make choices. They are not afraid to ask for what they enjoy drinking.

Pay with cash The easiest way to get in and out of a B & A racket (beer and alcohol racket) is with cash. In addition, bartenders and servers prefer cash, so you can keep them happy, too.

Don't draw attention to yourself Don't lie down if someone challenges you, but try to avoid unneeded attention at all costs. Best to slip in and out of a B & A with little fuss.

Never let a friend drive intoxicated Stand up for your goombata. Never let them drive intoxicated. Best to go to the mattresses and lie low for the evening versus getting pinched by the feds. No one really wants to spend time in the joint.

Don't drive intoxicated Don't get broken.

For those who plan to create their own bar at home or for those who already have a bar, you might consider checking or double-checking to make sure that you have the following items to maximize your and your guests' experience.


Write a menu of the drinks that you feel confident you can make when your friends visit. Make sure these are drinks that you can produce quickly, with little effort, so that you don't spend time flipping through books. For example, David A. Embury, the author of The Fine Art of Mixing Cocktails, which was published in the 1950s, writes that the average host "can get along very nicely" knowing how to make six good cocktails. He suggests the gin martini, the Manhattan, the old-fashioned, the daiquiri, the sidecar, and the Jack Rose, all of which still work almost fourscore years later. Start small and simple with one drink. Once you have perfected the one, set a goal for five drinks, then expand to ten drinks as you learn them, and set the goal of twenty drinks later. Spend time studying drinks away from the bar so that you can expand your menu. A menu will keep you focused and will keep your inventory small and focused, too. The more drinks you add to your menu, the more inventory you will need on hand so that you can produce the drinks on the menu.


Make sure you have the correct equipment for your bar. You might include one or more of each of the following pieces of equipment. Mobsters are confident and always have the correct tools for the job. They come to the job prepared.

Bar mat Bar mats come in assorted sizes and in assorted colors, which means you can look for the perfect mat to match your bar or the decor of your home. Bar mats provide a stable, slip-free place to mix drinks. Also, bar mats will contain spills and will protect the surface below the mat.

Barspoon The barspoon is one of the most important tools of a bartender. Generally, the barspoon is a very long spoon, about 11 inches, with a twisted handle with a spoon at one end and a disk at the other. The twisted handle aids the bartender in stirring a drink in a mixing glass. The disk can be used to muddle soft items in the bottom of the glass and can be used to layer different alcohols in a glass for a classic layered drink.

Blender Every house and bar should have a blender, no matter what you think of blended drinks. There are some drinks that really should be blended. If you are going to use a blender, make sure to use ice that is already crushed to make sure that you add years to the blades and the overall life of the blender. Examples of blended drinks include the margarita, the pina colada, and daiquiris.

Channel knife A channel knife is a small tool that helps the bartender create citrus twists. The blade of the tool cuts perfect twists both short and long to garnish drinks.

Citrus squeezer Fresh fruit juice makes a cocktail. The citrus squeezer is a tool that comes in numerous sizes specifically for limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit. The tool acts as a lever that closes around the fruit, squeezing the juice out of the fruit.

Corkscrew A good corkscrew is important to have on hand to remove corks from bottles and bottle caps. The twisted "worm" is inserted into the cork to grab the cork for removal.

Ice Ice is a tool as well as part of the drink. Ice helps to cool the drink quickly as well as chill the glasses. Ice comes in diverse sizes and shapes. Bartenders should choose the ice size and shape based on the drink being created. Generally, ice comes in three shapes: cubed, crushed, and shaved.

Today, there are many choices for molds and cut ice.

Ice scoop Ice should always be scooped into a glass. An ice scoop is a handled scoop that allows the bartender to effortlessly move ice from the ice bin to the mixing glass or to the drinking glass.

Jigger A jigger is a small two-sided hourglass-shaped measuring cup that is used to quickly and accurately measure out various portions of liquor, liqueur, juice, and other liquids to make cocktails. Most common jiggers are 1 1/2 ounce on the large side and 1 ounce or less on the small side.

Julep strainer The julep strainer is a curved plate strainer made from stainless steel that is used to strain drinks from the mixing glass when there is no need for a fine strain.

Knife and cutting board A sharp paring knife should always be part of a properly equipped bar. Knifes are used to cut fruit and make garnishes. The cutting board should be small just large enough to hold a piece of fruit.

Muddler A muddler is a small bat-shaped stick of wood or rod of metal. The muddler is used to crush sugar cubes and citrus fruits so they can be incorporated into the drink.

Napkins Napkins add a little class to the drink and will collect any condensation on the outside of the glass so that it does not damage the surface on which the glass is sitting. The color and design of the napkin can coordinate or contrast with the bar.

Pour spout For a professional-looking bar, each bottle should be outfitted with a pour spout. This tool allows the bartender to create a consistent flow of liquid from any bottle. This reliable flow allows the bartender to reduce waste when pouring drinks.

Shaker There are two distinct types of shakers that are used by bartenders: the Boston shaker and the cobbler shaker. The Boston shaker comes in two parts: the tin and the mixing glass. If you use a Boston shaker, you will also need to purchase a strainer to hold the ice in the glass when straining the drink into the glass. The cobbler shaker is a self-contained shaker, tin, and strainer all in one.

Small mesh strainer A small mesh strainer is used to strain out small chips of ice from a drink that is already being strained from a mixing glass or shaker. Sometimes this is referred to as the double strain.

Strainer A drink should always be served over fresh ice, which means a drink that is mixed or shaken should be strained from the mixing glass or the shaker into a glass that contains fresh ice. For a drink that is served straight up, the drink should be strained into a glass that has been chilled with a mixture of ice cubes and water.

Straws Straws are used several ways as tools for bartenders. The straw can be a usable garnish for a drink. The straw gives the drink a finished look and provides guests with a way to sip the drink without touching their lips to the side of the glass. The other use for a straw is for sampling the drink. The bartender can dip the straw into the drink and then put a finger over the top of the straw to create a vacuum that will hold the liquid in the straw. The drink can then be tasted through the open end of the straw. Many bartenders use this technique to make sure that the balance of the drink is correct and to make sure that the drink tastes the way it should taste.

Swizzle sticks Swizzle sticks are used for built drinks, especially drinks from the Caribbean. The swizzle stick is used to mix the drink.


Vodka Vodka is non-aged, clear, distilled spirit with no aroma and no flavor. Vodka can be made from almost anything with sugar. Bartenders like vodka because this neutral spirit sells well and mixes into drinks like a dream.

Gin Gin is a non-aged, clear, distilled spirit with a very distinct flavor and aroma. Gin starts off as a neutral spirit. Each gin is different but most will have juniper berry in the flavor and aroma. Many mixed drinks are made with gin.

Rum Rum is a distilled spirit that can be non-aged or aged. Made from sugarcane, rum is an excellent mixer.

Tequila Tequila is a distilled spirit that can be non-aged or aged. This spirit is made from the agave plant. Unlike all the other spirits that are made from an annual crop, like corn or wheat, tequila's agave takes almost a decade to grow. So great planning goes into tequila's production.

Brandy Brandy is a distilled spirit that can be non-aged or aged. Brandy is made from fruit wine, in most cases grape wine. Many popular brandies are aged in casks that give a golden color to the brandy.

Whiskey Whiskey is a distilled spirit that can be non-aged or aged. Whiskey is made from grain beer. All types of grains are used to make whiskey, although certain whiskeys require specific grains.

Liqueurs A liqueur is a sweetened, flavored spirit that is often used as a mixer, although liqueurs can be consumed by themselves before or after a meal. Flavors vary. Fruits, nuts, and herbs make up most of the liqueurs on the market.

Fortified wine Fortified wine is wine with brandy added to raise the alcohol content. Originally for storage and shipping, the increased alcohol also makes a terrific addition to a cocktail.


Excerpted from "How to Drink Like a Mobster"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Albert W. A. Schmid.
Excerpted by permission of Red Lightning Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Noah Rothbaum


Mobster Lexicon

1. Drink Like a Mobster!

2. People, Places and Things

3. Cocktail Recipes

What People are Saying About This

Noah Rothbaum

Fix yourself a drink and enjoy.

Susan Reigler

Albert W. A. Schmid's collection of classic cocktail recipes are not only easy to replicate, but happily, legal. (As long as you are over 21, of course.)

Customer Reviews