Shaking Things Up: The Influence of Women on the American co*cktail (2024)

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At the beginning of the 20th century, much was changing for American women. Working toward the right to vote and the passage of Prohibition gave women a route into the public sphere and allowed them to contribute to political and social discourse. One such way women did this was by beginning to drink alcohol publicly. While drinking had always been seen as a male only activity, many women began drinking publicly during prohibition. This essay explores the way that a culture of commercialization and political and social liberation for women allows them to enter barrooms and fundamentally change drinking culture. This, in turn, affects the type of alcohol being served in bars of the time and The essay aims to explore how women’s response to prohibition shaped American drinking practice by examining three questions. First, how and why did where women were drinking change? Second, how and why did what women were drinking change? Third, what impact did the “where” and “what” of women’s drinking habits have on the evolution of the co*cktail and American drinking culture overall? These questions are analyzed through newspaper articles and co*cktail recipes from co*cktails created and popularized in the period from 1920-1933 as well as by research on women’s history during the period.

  • Published on 23 Jul 2020
  • Peer Reviewed
Shaking Things Up: The Influence of Women on the American co*cktail (2024)


What is the purpose of shaking a co*cktail? ›

Shaking creates this effect by breaking up the ice and chilling the co*cktail, while also sloshing all of that delicious boozy mixture around. It makes for a frothy sipper rather than a velvety one. Importantly, shaking mixes certain ingredients together that, if stirred, would separate by the time you drink them.

What co*cktail was invented by a woman? ›

Ada Coleman

She created the Hanky Panky inspired by the actor Sir Charles Hawtrey who frequented the Savoy's bar and is one of the first examples of Fernet Branca being used in a co*cktail.

What did women do during the Prohibition era? ›

In the 1920s, women held every sort of illegal job pertaining to booze, from running kitchen stills to peddling booze, tallying sales records, and smuggling alcohol within and across borders. Some women got so deep into bootleg crime rings that they committed murder.

What was the attitude of the early twentieth century women's movement towards the prohibition of alcohol? ›

Furthermore, alcohol was seen as a barrier to women's independence and progress, making women who were under the influence more vulnerable to abuse and unable to make clear-headed choices. Therefore, the early-twentieth-century women's movement had a favorable view of prohibition.

Why do bartenders shake up high? ›

Showmanship aside, bartenders shake co*cktails for a number of reasons — to chill, dilute, or blend ingredients. Shaking even changes the texture of the co*cktail by incorporating the air that gives the beverage a frothy finish.

What is the history of shaking co*cktails? ›

History. The co*cktail shaker can be traced to 7000 BCE in prehispanic Mexico and South America, where the jar gourd was used as a closed container. In 1520, Hernán Cortés wrote to King Charles V of Spain of a drink made from cacao, served to Montezuma with much reverence, frothy and foaming from a golden cylinder.

What is America's oldest co*cktail? ›

The famed Sazerac Coffee House was founded in New Orleans in 1850 and soon became known as the home of “America's First co*cktail,” the Sazerac. Using rye whiskey (in place of French brandy), a dash of Peychaud's Bitters, and Herbsaint, what eventually became the official co*cktail of New Orleans was created.

Why did the liquor industry oppose women's suffrage? ›

With the vote, the thinking went, women could prohibit alcohol and protect the (implicitly white) family. In many states, the women's temperance movement became almost synonymous with women's suffrage. For that reason, liquor industry leaders lobbied mightily against suffrage.

Which movement led by women was against the drinking of alcohol? ›

The NATIONAL WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1874. The initial purpose of the WCTU was to promote abstinence from alcohol, which they protested with pray-ins at local taverns.

What changes did the 1920s bring about for women? ›

In the 1920s, women's roles significantly expanded as they gained more independence and freedom. They began entering the workforce in larger numbers, pursued higher education, and participated more in politics after gaining suffrage in 1918.

How did Prohibition affect women's fashion? ›

No more restrictive dresses, corsets or floor-length gowns — fashionable women of the Prohibition era craved freedom of movement in their clothing. Flapper fashion did not emerge suddenly. It developed as a result of gradual social and cultural changes. During this period, youth and beauty became a valued commodity.

How did Prohibition influence American culture and society? ›

Prohibition was enacted to protect individuals and families from the “scourge of drunkenness.” However, it had unintended consequences including: a rise in organized crime associated with the illegal production and sale of alcohol, an increase in smuggling, and a decline in tax revenue.

Which woman led the movement to ban alcohol by smashing alcohol in saloons? ›

Carrie (or Carry) Nation, a radical temperance advocate, gained both support and notoriety through raiding saloons and using a hatchet to smash their liquor bottles.

What happens if you don't shake a co*cktail? ›

Finally, while stirring a co*cktail thoroughly mixes the ingredients, they still retain some of their distinctiveness, as opposed to shaking, which repurposes the ingredients into a new singular flavor.

Why does James Bond drink shaken not stirred? ›

With its clear colour and lack of a strong odor, the vodka martini allows Bond to keep a low profile while still enjoying a stiff drink. Q: Why does Bond prefer his martinis "shaken, not stirred"? A: Shaking aerates the drink, making it colder and slightly more dilute than stirring achieves.

Why do drinks need to be shaken? ›

Shaking combines the different flavors of these ingredients efficiently, dilutes the alcohol, balances the flavors, and quickly chills the drink. Though different drinks sometimes require different lengths of time, a good rule of thumb is to shake your drink for around 10 seconds.

What is the benefit of co*cktail shaker? ›

It acts as a closed vessel that allows you to quickly and thoroughly mix ingredients together while chilling the drink at the same time. Shaking your co*cktail lowers the temperature of your drink faster than stirring would because your ingredients are repeatedly exposed to the surface area of the ice at a rapid rate.

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